Florida Georgia Line Interview: Tyler Hubbard Discusses ‘Surreal’ Success, What’s Coming Next
Florida Georgia Line, the duo made up of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, are quite possibly one of the busiest acts in country music nowadays, and that's how they've stayed since their debut album, Here's to the Good Times, was released in 2012.
The first single from that record, "Cruise" -- FGL's debut single -- sped to the top of the charts and has been certified a remarkable nine times platinum, sealing Hubbard and Kelley's country superstar status. Their career highlights include winning more than a dozen major awards and having all eight of their previous singles landing at the top of the charts, but the guys remain humble about their accomplishments, focusing on their gratitude for what they describe as "surreal" success.
"We really try to just focus on what’s next and what we want to do," Hubbard tells The Boot. ""Cruise" kind of put us on the map, and we really wanted to figure out how we were going to sail from that. It took a lot of strategy. We used that momentum to continue to push the next few singles and help 'keep the iron hot,' if you will.
""Cruise" definitely was a song that we will never take for granted," Hubbard adds. "It was the start of our career and just a special song. It doesn’t come around but once or twice in a lifetime, so we’re really blessed."
Although Hubbard and Kelley both showed a natural affinity for performing, they got their start not by playing in bars or clubs but as joint worship leaders while attending college.
"That’s basically how we learned how to play guitar and connect with a crowd, at church," Hubbard explains. "We used to lead worship for a little youth group outside of Nashville. It was great. It was a little side money at the time, which we really needed, but it was also time for us to get away from the house for a little bit and lead worship. It was something for us that was very rewarding on a lot of different levels."
They're now performing in front of crowds of thousands at a time -- and singing lines like, "And all I wanna do is lace my Js and lay some Jack in my Coke," and, "Girl, you melt me like ice and whiskey" — but the FGL boys are surprisingly not far, spiritually and personally speaking, from their days as worship leaders.
"I think our faith comes through in a lot of different ways, if not directly in our music," Hubbard says, adding that their crew says a group prayer before each performance. "But it’s really starting to, as well, come out in our writing and our music. The biggest thing for BK and myself [is], we’ve always taken pride in being transparent and being who we are, and letting our fans in on our lives. I think that’s one reason they connect so well to our music and who we are ...
"We like to have a good time. We like to throw a party. We like to, on Friday and Saturday nights, see how many people we can get together and see how many people can forget their worries and just have a great time. We get a lot of joy out of that," he continues. "But also, putting the Man first and making sure our priorities are straight, making sure our fans know where our hearts are at and where our blessings do come from."
At the end of the day, we’ve got a huge team around us that’s helping us out, and we pretty much know where it comes from. This is really something that’s really beyond our wildest imagination and beyond our capability of creating on our own. It’s a beautiful thing
Florida Georgia Line spent the summer headlining their own 2015 Anything Goes Tour, which will be wrapping up in mid-October, but they also joined Luke Bryan's 2015 Kick the Dust Up Tour for some stadium dates and played a few festivals, all of which has kept them on the road almost constantly.
"I think that’s a really cool thing, to be on a headlining tour, to be an opener and to be able to be playing festivals," Hubbard says. "Having done one thing for a couple days, we’re ready to switch it up and do something else, whether it be going in the studio, or go to the Treehouse and write, or get back on the road.
"It’s been really cool for us, and a really cool experience, and an overwhelming amount of people. It’s cool to be up there," he continues. "Luke’s a good friend of ours. He’s taught us a lot over the years. It’s still a great opportunity for us.
"It’s a good year of us. It’s a good year for us," Hubbard adds. "It’s a good position to be in. It’s a cool spot."
In between concert dates, Hubbard and Kelley are also working on a brand-new album, which will be the follow-up project to their No. 1 sophomore album, 2014's Anything Goes.
"We’ve been writing quite a bit," Hubbard reveals. "We’ve got a ton of songs we can’t wait for people to hear. [We] just got back into the studio with Joey Moi, our producer, and are starting to bring those songs to life. It’s a fun process for us."
Although both Hubbard and Kelly are prolific songwriters, they won't insist on writing their entire album.
"We’ve written most of them. [But] we’re never opposed to outside songs," Hubbard says. "We’re always listening to songs. We always say, 'Better is better.' If a song comes in that we didn’t write, but we feel like we would have wrote it, we’ll cut it. We’ve fallen in love and singled songs that we haven’t written several times. We try not to put ourselves in any kind of box and say, 'We have to write the whole album,' but we definitely write the majority of it."
With three years of success behind them, and a limitless future in front of them, Florida Georgia Line remain humble about their unprecedented journey.
"A lot of people can look around and tell everybody they built something or did something," Hubbard acknowledges. "At the end of the day, we’ve got a huge team around us that’s helping us out, and we pretty much know where it comes from. This is really something that’s really beyond our wildest imagination and beyond our capability of creating on our own. It’s a beautiful thing."
See a list of all of Florida Georgia Line's upcoming concerts on their website.
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