Gravelly-voiced singer/songwriter Chase Rice has taken the country music world by storm with nearly 2.4 million albums sold and billions of streams. Impressively, his three-part project, The Album, features his latest platinum #1 hit, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen. (feat. Florida Georgia Line)” and platinum Top 10 hit, “Lonely If You Are.”
Chase has had steady chart success since he released his first major label album, Ignite the Night, was released in 2014 and contained thie Top 5 hits “Gonna Wanna Tonight” and “Ready Set Roll. Then his next album, Lambs & Lions (released in 2017), included the chart-topper, “Eyes On You.” In addition, he has guested on sold-out arena tours with Jason Aldean and Kane Brown, and stadium shows with Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney.
While Rice was proud of the hits that brought him the acclaim over the last decade, he knew there was something missing. With the downtime of the pandemic, Rice discovered what that was with the help of a new producer and a big change-up in the way he recorded. For his latest album, the cleverly-titled I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell, the Florida-born/Asheville NC-raised entertainer stripped down musically with no click track, no pre-programmed music beds, and one-take vocals for the most part. The result is a 13-track evolution and passion for music in Chase Rice. He had a hand in writing all the music including the songs “Way Down Yonder,” “I Hate Cowboys,” and “Key West & Colorado.” And three of the tunes—“Bench Seat,” “If I Were Rock and Roll,” and “Life Part of Livin’”—were written exclusively by him.
Notably, Rice is also known for co-writing one of Florida Georgia Line’s big early hits, “Cruise.”
Chase Rice Interview
We are pleased to present this new Q&A interview with Chase Rice. He talks about his new approach to recording, and how his controversial Twitter comments and actions during Covid helped him recreate his identity. He also discusses his new material, changing his tour show, and the stories behind “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen” and “Lonely If You Are.”
Here’s the video of Chase Rice’s hit, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God.
Amen.” (feat. Florida Georgia Line).
BC: I love your new album, especially the title. Why did you decide to take a different approach recording this new album?
Chase Rice: A lot of it was Covid, to be honest…having that much time off and just boredom. But I think I’ve done so many years now trying to entertain live and trying to put together the best show possible. The songs weren’t necessarily great songs, but they were cool live songs, but that makes for average music and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing with a few hits here. I think there were hints of the ability to do great stuff in there. But this time was very different. It went from “If I Were Rock & Roll,” the first song I wrote by myself, to “Life Part of Livin’,” “Bench Seat” that I also wrote by myself. I was like, ‘Oh, those are cool songs for down the road in my career,’ to within a month of hearing these songs and really starting to love these songs—just me and a guitar, no tracks, no nothing—of being like, man!
Now, there’s this line in the sand too, for Covid where I got in trouble for doing live shows. I was just disagreeing with a lot of what was going on in the world, so I was like…Alright, why don’t I just put my flag in the sand right here. And this is gonna be who I am hell or high water. I’m gonna finally be myself for the first time in my career. It took those negative things to happen to really make this positive thing happen, which is this album. And that’s really how it happened. I was just fed up with how the world was going. I was fed up with how my career was going. Like…Alright, I’m gonna start doing it this way. Then you add in Oscar Charles, who’s an amazing producer, the way he makes music come to life. We did the recording in my house, and he didn’t want to hear tracks. He wanted to hear me and a guitar, and we started almost each song with me and a guitar.
BC: Are you pleased with how the album turned out?
Rice: I couldn’t be happier. It’s like 10 years of “How do I do this?” finally turned into “Damn, we did it!” And that’s okay. I mean I don’t know if I was in a place the last eight years or so, where I would even have had the balls to do this because I was having success. I keep telling everybody like I didn’t know what I wanted to do my whole life, my whole career, as a musician, and then you get thrown into being a writer on [Florida Georgia Line’s hit] “Cruise.” in 2012. Okay, I guess I’ll just do that and I look back on that stuff, and I’m not ashamed of it at all. I’m like, man, I was loving life when that was happening. I was loving the success. I was loving “Ready Set Roll.” When I wrote “Eyes on You,” I was fired up about it. They were hits, and I think they were hits because I was so fired up about them. I don’t know if they were longevity moves, but that’s not where I was.
Here’s the video of Chase Rice’s single, “Way Down Yonder.”
I have that same passion about this music and even more so than I did about “Eyes on You” and “Ready Set Roll” and “Cruise.” But now it’s better quality, in my opinion. I could be happier. It’s like 10 years of weight lifted off my shoulders.
BC: With that break from the road due to the pandemic, you talked about getting to actually experience life differently for a while. How did that effect the songs you wrote and chose to record?
Rice: It was a complete difference. I remember the first time I wrote during Covid, it was like normal. It was weird because Music Row was empty. But I went down and wrote with a couple track guys. We wrote a decent song. I don’t even remember what it was called. I was like, alright, here we are writing songs again. It just felt boring. And then when all the shit hit the fan with the show and then I tweeted something. That tweet was one thing that I look at. That was on me; that was stupid, but I got in trouble for that.
That night I got home and kind of just hit a wall, and that’s when I wrote “If I Were Rock and Roll.” That’s when everything changed. That was six months into Covid. I wasn’t even sure if I was gonna keep writing songs. I just didn’t know if it was gonna come, and then finally, that night it came, and it came in the form of “If I Were Rock and Roll.” A few weeks later “Bench Seat.” And it was like, Oh shit. I’m back to doing it, and I’m loving it. I worked with (producer) Jay Joyce, and then I shifted over to (producer) Oscar Charles, and those guys really helped me.
BC: I’m sure you’ll be performing some of those songs on your next tour. What can fans expect on your Way Down Yonder tour?
Rice: I’m not even positive yet because we haven’t gone into rehearse yet. I don’t know how I’m gonna bring these songs to life, but they’re gonna hear a lot of the I Hate Cowboys record. If you’ve seen the show before and you want to hear all these old songs, this is not the tour for you. You’re gonna hear our “Drinking Beer,” you’re gonna hear “Eyes on You,” “Ride” and some of the other hits, but I’m gonna take a lot of the songs off this I Hate Cowboys record and play those. I love the quality of the music, I love the way it’s produced, and it’s built to be played live.
Here’s the video of Chase Rice’s new song, “Bench Seat.”
BC: Let’s talk about some of the songs on the album. How did “Way Down Yonder” (written with Hunter Phelps, John Byron, Blake Pendergrass & Corey Crowder) develop for you?
Rice: That was a song we wrote down in Florida on a fishing trip. We based it off of some moonshine stuff and the history of moonshine, which I love because I’m from the mountains and North Carolina, and there’s a lot of history with moonshine and NASCAR that got started around there. It sounded cool, and Rob McNelley got on the acoustic guitar. He started playing that guitar riff. That’s when it came to life, and now it’s the single.
BC: How did the song “I Hate Cowboys” (written with Michael Hardy, Ross Copperman & Brad Tursi) come about?
Rice: “I Hate Cowboys”, to me, could be another single. I don’t even know what the singles are going to be, to be honest. That’s the cool part about this record—radio take whatever you want. I’m not gonna focus on that right now. I’m gonna focus on making sure people know this whole album because singles only get you so far. And “Cowboys” is awesome. That was one that we changed the chords on. That was Oscar’s idea to put it on the nylon, that made it sound more Western. So that’s stuff that came to life and sounds like it does, because Oscar is on this record and produced it.
BC: I’d like to ask you about a couple of your past hits. Tell us about writing “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen” (co-written with Cale Dodds, Corey Crowder & Hunter Phelps)
Chase: We were in Lawrence, Kansas, and I didn’t want to write that day. We were an hour into the write and we couldn’t figure out anything. But Crowder really wanted to write a porch song. I want something you can listen to on a front porch, and that’s how “Drink Beer” came to life. I looked at my phone and came across that title and thought…Alright, this is the most front porch title you ever heard. Once we figured that out, we finished the song in about an hour, and, it became my second number one. So, I’m proud of that one. That’s what we finish our set with right now. It’s this really fun song.
BC: “Lonely If You Are” (co-written with Lindsay Rimes and Hunter Phelps) was another big hit for you.
Chase: That was Lindsay Rimes on the acoustic part, and that was a cool different way instead of just regular strumming chords, but that was all when we were writing tracks. Both those songs were written with tracks. It’s fun to play live, and it’s gonna be cool to implement those songs into the new ones live.
Bill Conger is a freelance writer for various publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, ParentLife, Homecoming, and Singing News and is currently writing a biography on The Osborne Brothers with Bobby Osborne. He can be reached at [email protected].
Here’s the link to Chase Rice’s site: https://www.chaserice.com/