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Florida Georgia Line ‘Cruise’ Into the Spotlight With Release of New EP

Florida Georgia Line
Courtesy of Sweet Talk Publicity

On Tuesday (May 15), up-and-coming country duo Florida Georgia Line released their brand new five-song EP titled ‘It’z Just What We Do.’ Their debut single ‘Cruise’ has already become a fan favorite live, as it sets the bar for a fun, summertime anthem for years to come.

Their good looks aside, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard are making quite an impression in country music with their tight musicianship and exceptional talent for writing catchy songs. The two not only co-wrote all of the tracks on ‘It’z Just What We Do,’ but they also have a song on the forthcoming Jason Aldean album, due out this fall.

But the new music is just the start of the exciting things in store for Florida Georgia Line this year. Just three days after the album’s release, the pair will pack their bags for the summer as they head out on the 2012 Country Throwdown Tour, also featuring headliner Gary Allan, as well as Josh Thompson, Sunny Sweeney, Justin Moore, Rodney Atkins, Eric Paslay and more.

Taste of Country snagged a few minutes with the hot (and we mean hot!) duo to talk about the formation of their effort, their new tunes and what we can expect in the coming months from these two talented guys.

Tell us about the formation of Florida Georgia Line and how the two of you first met.
Brian Kelley: Tyler and I met through a mutual friend at Belmont [University in Nashville]. I transferred in, and he’d been there all four years. I think our senior year we started hanging out and sung a little bit. Once we both graduated it freed up a lot of time to focus on music. We started doing a couple of writers rounds, and just playing out songs that we’d written. We had a couple of friends encourage us. More people started showing up, and it was just one of those things that happened organically. We weren’t really sure what to do or where to go with it. We were like, “Let’s just do it!” We were in a McDonalds parking lot, and we were like, “Do you just want to try music and travel around and do it together?” We just put our heads down and worked hard … worked any kind of job we could to free up time to write and travel a little bit to do some shows.
Tyler Hubbard: We didn’t know how the industry worked at that point at all! We were just going to get our guitars and get in our cars and travel around and whenever anybody would listen to us, we would play our songs.
Kelley: It’s still like that. We’ll go play anywhere for free [laughs]!

You’ll get plenty of time to play live this summer when you head out on the Country Throwdown Tour. How does that make you feel to be included on such a high-profile tour right off the bat?
Hubbard: It’s funny because last year we heard about this Throwdown Tour. We were like oh that would be so awesome to get on there. It’s pretty wild that a year later we are getting the opportunity to do that. We’re super excited about this whole summer and developing relationships with other artists … developing our show and just meeting a lot of fans. It’s going to be a pretty epic summer, I believe. We’re just stoked about it. It’s going to be cool because we’re used to being on the road Thursday, Friday, Saturday, coming home Sunday, and writing throughout the week. There are a couple of weeks throughout the summer that are going to be challenging, but it will be really cool, because we’ll be out for almost a full month without coming home. Another time it will be two weeks. We might end up killing each other, but it’s going to be fun.
Kelley: We’re in a van, and we have a great group of guys. We know each other really well from being on the road so much. We joke that we’re going to know everything we could possibly want to know about each other by the end of the summer.

Fans are just now getting their hands on the new EP, ‘It’z Just What We Do.’ Take us inside the studio with you guys … was it a pretty comfortable environment?
Hubbard: It was comfortable, but it was very long. When we were in town, we were literally at the studio. We weren’t at home sleeping. It was cool to be part of every step of the process and working with [producer] Joey Moi (Jake Owen, Nickelback) and just being in the studio the whole time. It was good, but it was exhausting. Some nights we would go home and it felt like we had been pouring concrete all day. A lot of sitting will really wear you out. We’re just not used to sitting that long. It was a great experience. It was like having a dream come true.
Kelley: Joey is just so talented. We’d learn something ever day, whether it was about songwriting or singing or how to sing a certain way or about the business. I don’t think he even realizes it, but he was just throwing out advice constantly and we were soaking it all up. We just wanted to listen to him talk. We’d take a break from a song and he would turn around and talk about a documentary he was watching. It’s like, “I didn’t know that!” [laughs] You can learn so much from him. It was an amazing experience.

Talk about the current single, ‘Cruise,’ and how that came about.
Kelley: That song came out of another writing session in the middle of another song. I think we kind of have to thank the Songwriting Gods for that one. We knew there was something cool about it. I remember we just kind of tweaked it a little bit. Joey did an awesome job on the track, and it sounds huge. It’s just a fun, summer song. We love back-roading and rolling down our windows and listening to music. I don’t think there’s anything better than that. We’re just really proud of the song.

What strengths do the two of you bring to the table to complete Florida Georgia Line so perfectly?
Kelley: I don’t think I could do it by myself. I wouldn’t want to just be a solo artist. I have my best friend on stage with me, and there are certain things that I don’t want to do that he doesn’t mind doing.
Hubbard: My weaknesses are his strengths and vice versa. It’s pretty cool. It definitely completes the puzzle if you will, because I’m the same way. I don’t know if I could physically pull off a solo thing. It would be so exhausting. It’s cool to have both of us working toward the same goal.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Hubbard: I would say for me, and probably for Brian, too, is when we graduated college and decided that we wanted to pursue music as a career. The two and a half years that we searched for a publishing company or searched for what direction to go in or what to do, we were having to figure out how to pay the bills on top of that. Obviously music wasn’t doing that at the time, so we were building bathroom stalls and building golf carts and cutting grass and washing cars – whatever we could do to still have time to have a couple of days to write. Managing that and staying true to what we believed in and what we wanted to do, instead of just going and getting a “real job” that would take up all our time, that was really challenging for us at the start of our career. Finally the doors opened.
Kelley: You really have to love what you do when you’re doing something you don’t want to do. When you’re putting up bathroom stalls and you don’t feel like writing after work or whatever. I feel like we are both so driven and know what we want to do, and there is nothing else that we would possibly do. There was no Plan B. We knew we were going to find a way to do music. There were some days where it’s like, “Man, I’ve got $50 left in my bank account,” but you keep pushing.
Hubbard: I remember right out of college, mom asked me, “What are you going to do? What’s your plan?” I told her my plan, and she goes, “Well, what is Plan B?” I said, “Well there is no Plan B. That’s the plan.”

When will that moment be that you will feel like you’ve “made it” in country music?
Hubbard: I love that question. It depends on what your definition of “made it” is. At this point, if you had asked me a year ago, I would have said I had made it right now at this point, because we’ve had a dream come true – a publishing deal with a dream company with a great team behind us and our music is paying our bills. Some people will say that we’ve made it, but in our opinions, I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to say that we’ve made it because we have pretty big dreams and goals. We want to be a legend eventually [laughs]! So I don’t know if there will be a “made it” for us.

What are some of those immediate goals?
Kelley: As an artist or songwriter, you want to hear your song on the radio. That’s just awesome. It’s a huge payoff. I think success on country radio would just be huge. And continue to build a strong, loyal fan base. Country music has the best fans. It’s something that is so amazing. You see other artists talk about it, and now we’re finding out every weekend and every day we’re finding that out. We have amazing fans. Awards are great, but we don’t do music for awards. If we get awards, that’s great. It will be awesome because that would mean people are really liking what we are doing. I think a life full of music on any level is probably the best life. If you get to make music for a living, sign me up.

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