Chase Rice enjoyed his “Cruise” in co-writing a country music seismic shifter, then going “Ready Set Roll” to break through on his own first hit recording, followed by “Gonna Wanna Tonight.”
He’ll play House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach at 8:30 p.m. May 25. On a phone interview last week, a few hours before his concert in Birmingham, Ala., Rice spoke about the chapters in his career, and the next one he’s writing.
Among the five men who composed Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” – with Conway native Jesse Rice, but of no relation – Chase Rice said the Sunshine State half of the duo, Brian Kelley, “thought it could be a big song for them,” but Rice had not foreseen such a “life-changing deal” earlier this decade.
Seeing such teamwork bowl over into such unprecedented popularity with “Cruise,” Rice said “Ready Set Roll,” from his “Ignite the Night” CD in 2014, became its “its own thing, in its own time.” The workload on his next album stays heavy, with hopes for release in September, he said. It will include “Everybody We Know Does,” a single from last summer.
Fresh on a day after “eight hours doing vocals” in the studio last week, Rice said the number of songs and the album name are forthcoming, but most of all, its theme reflects “much more of me,” with “the roots of who I am.”
Rice has enjoyed opening on tours with Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, and Savannah, Ga.-area native Billy Currington – the latter two who will entertain during the third annual Carolina Country Music Fest, June 8-11 in downtown Myrtle Beach. Through such access and exposure, Rice said he finds other ways to craft his own identity as an artist.
“They’ve been inspiration before I was even into music,” Rice said, “and they’re as professional as it gets.”
Performing for U.S. troops in Japan, and in Australia, Rice said the familiarity with country music abroad remains “an unbelievable thing to me.”
Seeing “these young kids” deployed with the Navy in Japan, and singing along and tailgating to his music, Rice talked of the honor in sharing “all the way over there, a little piece of America.”
Rice also expressed his excitement for three concerts in England, and one each in Ireland and Scotland, later this year, all part of what he sees as a steady climb for which to aim in his growth and breadth as an artist.
With a varied background that includes playing linebacker for the University of North Carolina and working on a NASCAR pit crew, Rice agrees that songwriting and performing each occupy an art, like other steps he’s taken in life.
“The biggest thing I took lessons from is football,” he said, “especially because it molded me into the man I am today.”
Rice brought up the “head down, eyes up, keep going” principle he learned, long before an injury removed the NFL draft from his horizon. He said tuning out anything negative, and putting blinders on, “you focus,” on whatever task’s at hand: on the field, writing, recording, and singing on stage.
“You get that mentality from football, “ said Rice, a college fan of the sport with the Florida Gators from his birth state, and his Tar Heels alma mater, after growing up near Asheville.