Recording his new song “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen” with Florida Georgia Line brings the past decade full circle for Chase Rice. The last time he worked with Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, all were still early in their music careers and living together in a house in Nashville. That’s the year they wrote “Cruise,” the song that made Florida Georgia Line famous.
“I knew Brian from growing up playing little baseball and when I moved to Nashville,” Rice recalls, “I moved in with them and took me under their wing. They had just started Florida Georgia Line, it wasn’t really a thing yet, when I moved into their house. Then, they got the attention of Nashville, we co-wrote ‘Cruise,” and things took off.”
“Cruise” launched Florida Georgia Line’s career and gave Rice respect and status as a songwriter. (Other co-writers include Jesse Rice and Joey Moi). As FGL began touring and becoming one of country music’s biggest acts, Rice continued writing songs and working to become established as an artist in his own right. Now, all these years later, he was excited to collaborate with Brian and Tyler once again.
“It’s special to me and it’s special to them because it’s been 10 years in the works, 10 years since we worked together. We didn’t write this one together, but we sang it together, and it’s the first real collaboration since ‘Cruise.’”
For Rice, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talking God. Amen” is meaningful on another level, as well. Although it was written before the Coronavirus pandemic (he co-wrote it with Cale Dodds, Hunter Phelps, and Corey Crowder), it turned out to foreshadow much of what was to come in 2020.
“I love the title,” Rice explains. “Corey really wanted to write a porch song that day, that’s what he kept saying. So, I finally said okay and I looked through my phone and saw ‘Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.’ And I said, how about that, it looks like a porch song to me. Little did I know it was going to be a 2020 anthem for what’s gone on in my year and what’s probably gone on in a lot of other people’s year.”
Rice says while this year has posed many challenges, it’s also brought him closer to the things and people that matter most.
“I’ve met new friends and gotten much deeper with old friends. And whether it’s the dinner table, the fireplace, the living room, the fire pit, I think there’s been time for a lot of us to reflect and get with people, whether we’re forced to or not, and dive a little deeper. And that’s been a blessing in itself.”
Still, 2020 has prompted the need for many to think in new and different directions. Once the live touring stopped, Rice began looking for ways to generate additional income, and his Tennessee farm offered the perfect opportunity.
“I’ve had my farm for years, but never really lived on it because I’ve been making a living on a tour bus. So, I started thinking I need to do something with this land. And I love bison. They’re native to our land and as American as it gets. I thought, I haven’t been able to work this year, I had to figure out a different way to make money, so why not become a bison farmer.”
He’s put up a big American flag as sort of a backdrop and says there’s nothing better than looking out and seeing bison roam behind it.
“I love looking out in the mornings and when the sun sets. It’s made my farm a special place.”
It’s not surprising that Rice – when he decided to take on farming – would choose something a little out of the ordinary. He has a track record of taking the road less traveled. In college, he was a rising football star with dreams of the NFL until an ankle injury forced him to change course. So, he went on to work on a NASCAR pit crew for a couple of years before moving to Nashville, unsure of what to do next. He appeared on TV’s Survivor: Nicaragua and won second place before settling in Nashville and deciding to pursue music.
After finding success as a songwriter with “Cruise,” Rice broke into country music as an artist in 2014 with a couple of Top 5 hits, then last year had his first No. 1 with “Eyes On You.” This year, he launched “The Album – Part I” followed by “The Album – Part II.” At the time he wasn’t sure how many ‘parts’ the album would have, but he now says he’ll wrap it up with three.
“Early next year, I’ll put out “Part III” which will include ‘Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen’ and that will conclude the album. It’ll be one of the most interesting albums I’ve ever written because it started in such a promising year and it made it all the way through 2020 and will finally be completed in 2021.”
As he wraps up this year and looks to the next, there’s no better way to do it than with a song that brings him back together with two his two old friends, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard.
“They’re extremely talented and extremely good at what they do,” Rice says. “And for us to team back together, with me knowing more about what I want to do and having my own sound now, and mixing it with theirs, it’s pretty cool.”