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New Arist Spotlight: Florida-Georgia Line

By: Matt Bjorke

Last Updated: May 17, 2012 3:05 PM

There has always been a segment of country music that loved good-time, feel-good music to be the center of their life's soundtrack. Newcomers Florida-Georgia Line are a duo who met while in college and while originally wanting to not be artists, they ended up growing a successful brand of modern country music and have recently signed as the flagship artist of Grammy-winning, Platinum songwriter/publisher Craig Wiseman's Big Loud Mountain record label. We recently discussed their label debut EP project and more in this exclusive feature interview.

Below we cover those topics mentioned above and also talk about some of the stars who've helped them along their career and much much more. 

Matt Bjorke: Where in Florida and Georgia are you guys from?

Tyler Hubbard: I’m from a town called Monroe, GA, a town 20 minutes outside Athens. 

Brian Kelley: I’m From Ormond Beach, Florida, which is an hour south of Jacksonville. I grew up about 10 minutes from the beach, which was pretty awesome. 

Brian: It's funny you talk about the band name because we always like to say it's not so much a place as much as two people coming together from two different places and creating something together as friends.

Matt: How did you guys come to form the group?

Tyler: Well, we met in college over at Belmont (in Nashville, TN). It was our senior year when we met and started hanging out and writing songs together. We weren't thinking much about it but we'd go do songwriter rounds and such and developing what we do and people were starting to come watch us play.  We weren't really wanting to be artists, we were wanting to be writers…

Matt: Pretty normal story there…

Tyler: Yeah, it kinda started going from there and we thought, 'well, lets see where this thing goes and give it a couple of years.' Se what happens. Here we are.

Matt: Who were some of the writers you worked with for your EP?

Brian: We've gotten an awesome group of writers since we've signed with Big Loud Shirt (publishing company), we've gotten to write with many incredible writers. Rodney Clawson who writes here, Chris Thompkins who writes here. Our manager/publisher Seth (England) set us up well. Our buddies Chase Rice and Jesse Rice are also on a song [the single Cruise. - ED]. I think that's just about it…

Tyler: Joey Moi is on one song too…

Brian: Yep, that's right, he produced the EP and has a credit on one of the songs…

Matt: How did you come to work with Joey?

Brian: Seth set that up. They have a great relationship through some stuff in the rock world. And he produced half of Jake Owen's new album…

Matt: Yeah…

Tyler: Here's a writer here too so he's naturally part of the family.

Matt: Well, that makes sense, some would say it doesn't but it makes sense.

Tyler: Yeah…

Matt: What was it like working with Joey in the studio?

Brian: It was one of the most enjoyable experiences - speaking for myself -  in the studio. Not only that, I feel like we learned something every time, musically or business. Literally I learned something every time. Whether it was musically or business, I looked forward to listening to him and soak up and learn everything from him. He's just an all-around great guy to talk to.

Tyler: Yeah, he's definitely made us step up our game.

Matt: So he hears stuff that maybe you don't hear…

Tyler: he's very talented, not just producing but also as a singing coach, as a manager, and more. He really can do it all. It was a good learning experience for sure. Joey's a good guy.

Matt: You have recently gotten a cut on the new Jason Aldean record that's coming out this year. What does it mean to you to have other artists decide to record your songs?

Tyler: I think for us, it's a pretty big deal and opens up more doors for FGL and it's an honor to have an idol of ours sing one of our songs. It hasn't really set in yet. It's sort of surreal.

Brian: Very Surreal.

Matt: And one thing he's always done is to cut songs from writers who may not be that well known yet. He's not a guy who just needs 'a Craig Wiseman song' or anything like that.  

Tyler: what's funny about the story of him hearing it is that Michael Knox told us that Jason actually found the song online himself. and that he called Michael one night wanting to cut the song…

Matt: Yeah, and I've heard he prefers to cut songs and work with people from Georgia so he probably heard about you guys and then checked it out…

Brian. It's pretty crazy, you never know how stuff can happen…

Matt: What have you learned from sharing the stage with artists like Jake Owen, Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert that you can take to your own show?

Brian: I think that Jake Owen and Colt Ford are two of the most open and honest and real people with us. They're two of the nicest guys We've met. And here's something that's a musical thing but also a life thing. We were down at the Crawfish Festival in Vero Beach with Jake and he's out running on the beach and a guy came up to him and asked him what's going on across the street? And Jake not only invited the guy, who is a truck driver who had the night off, to the show but also hung out with him at the show side stage all day. That's what he's all about and it was inspiring to our whole crew. 

Matt: I saw Jake tweeting about you guys, and you kinda said it a little bit but how cool is it for you guys to have someone like him tweeting about you to his fans?

Tyler: That means the world to us man, because at our level to have someone like him say "Hey, I believe in you guys" and take us under his wing and all of that because a lot of times, naturally, a lot of artists want to be competitive and they'll say "I'm not gonna go out of my way to help you out". So Jake's the opposite man. When he believes in something, he'll do whatever it takes to help you out. It's been a blessing and we hope to be able to do the same thing for new artists coming up down the road.

Matt: Your new single "Cruise" was released to iTunes and ended up hitting Billboard's Top 50 at country radio. What is it like to see your band's name on a list like that?

Brian: It's always nice to be in that company and I remember we were doing screen shots and posting them (to Facebook) and every time we did that we'd see a little bump. It's surreal feeling and we've been working so hard to get the music out there.

Matt: When you found out the single sold so well, outside of iTunes, it had to be a great feeling to have it do well, particularly since you're such a new artist and the single hasn't really hit radio yet…

Tyler: We knew it was going to do fairly well because our fan base was ready for new music. It's been a while since we released our last project so we knew it would go fairly well but nearly as well as it did. I think it was all about word of mouth…

Brian: Yeah, Our fans man, they're troopers. We're getting tweets everyday saying "Hey, we turned our friend onto 'Cruise'." It's pretty unreal how they're able to make that happen...

Matt: I think that's the power of the internet now, it's brought the power of word-of-mouth back to the music business and can really help independent and new artists…

Tyler: Yeah…

Matt: How did you come to start working with Big Loud Shirt/Big Loud Mountain?

Brian: I actually knew Seth's roommate, we had met years ago through Belmont friends and we'd see each other out every or every other weekend and later I was visiting my then-girlfriend at her home in Georgia one time and he texted me and he said "Hey man, my buddy Seth from Big Loud Shirt would like to meet with ya," and it just grew from there. 

Tyler: Yeah, we got our foot in the door and kept it open from there.

Matt: What one word best describes country music to you?

Tyler: I would just explain it as real life. Life turned into a song. At least my life, things I did, turned into music.

Brian: I'd think one word would be lifestyle. Some people think it's not country if sounds like there's a little bit of 'rock' or 'rap' or whatever, it's not country. But I don't think the music should define everything if you're singing from your heart, talking about real life things. Music is always going to change. I mean you look at Alabama. Their music is still relevant and awesome but it's totally different than the music now.

Matt: Yeah, now if you play in Texas, you don't have to have a fiddle in the band… (all laugh).

Read Our Review of "It'z Just What We Do", the debut EP from Florida-Georgia Line

 

 

 

 

 

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