Sure, Chase Rice has the enviable notation on his musical resume of having co-written the most downloaded country song in history. However, the singer-songwriter admits he was as surprised as anyone that Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" turned out to be such a record-smashing success. In fact, he even admits he originally wanted a different act to cut the song!
"When we were writing 'Cruise; it was just me and two of my buddies," Rice explains. "We were just writing songs – we’ve just done it 100 times before. And then [FLAGA Line's] Brian [Kelley] was just freaking out ... they decided they wanted to cut it.
"And my first thought was, damn, I want a Luke Bryan or somebody big to cut it -- 'cause nobody knew who they were!" he admits with a laugh. "Luckily I was way off on that one!
Rice himself is now poised to "cruise" further along the path of stardom with his own major-label debut, Ignite The Night, which was released August 19 -- a special day for the singer-songwriter. "It’s my late father’s birthday," he notes. "Kind of a happy birthday thing to him, but it happened by accident. There were only four days we had to release the album! So that’s a cool part behind it, but the music is really what’s driving it ... it’s packed with a lot of variety for people to enjoy."
One thing that was important to Rice in making the album was bringing the energy of his much-lauded concerts to the recording studio and somehow capturing that exciting, urgent feeling. "Live shows have been my career, they’ve been my life," he says. "Beause I haven’t had terrestrial radio. I’ve had XM radio and that’s been huge for me, but terrestrial radio hadn’t started for me until recently ... so throughout my career, I’ve had to figure out a way to entertain people with no radio success – without them knowing my songs.
"So that made me want to put out songs that a crowd that wouldn’t know me would sing along eventually, or just they’d hear it and they’d be like, what was that? I want to go download it."
However, "Getting the energy of a live show onto my album is hard. But [my producer] jumped in and man, he got those tracks rocking. And now it’s made me step up my live shows. Instead of figuring out a way to have the album reach the live show, now I’ve got to have the live show be up here with how high the quality of the album is," he smiles.
Naturally, being a proven (and then some) hit songwriter, Rice was interested in contributing a good deal of his own material to the new set. " I love my writing my own stuff," he says, noting that he wrote all but two songs on Ignite. "But at the same time, Nashville is full of great songwriters and if I hear something that either I couldn’t have written better by myself, or that is kind of outside the box that I never would have thought of...I’ll cut it. There’s no reason to be too prideful."
This down-to-earth attitude translates throughout pretty much all of Rice's thoughts on his career to date, whether it is his new music or the song that rocketed him right up to the top with Nashville's biggest hitmakers. He's not taking any of it for granted, and he's always ready to move on to bigger and better things. (Even when he started pretty much bigger than most artists could even dream of!)
"'Cruise' is just another song for me. I mean literally, the next day I went and wrote another song and I forgot about it. I played football, and if you beat Miami one week, you got to play Virginia Tech the next. You know, you got to move onto the next one," he notes sagely.
The bottom line? "We had no idea what we had our hands on, and it’s cool to be a part of."