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Florida Georgia Line: Brian Kelley on the Band's First Headlining Tour

Florida Georgia Line is just here to party.
Florida Georgia Line is just here to party.
Kristin Barlow

Here's to the Good Times, country duo Florida Georgia Line's platinum debut record, is more than just an album title; it's a promise to fans for a tightly woven, danceable, and good-time rocking theme of country music and party anthems. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, from Ormond Beach, Florida, and Monroe, Georgia, respectively, have achieved international success by staying true to that promise since their first single, "Cruise", shot to number one.

"That Fireball whiskey whispers / temptation in my ear" -- so it says in the chorus for the second song, "Round Here", on FGL's record. That festive cinnamon Fireball whiskey will taste even sweeter this Thursday night when FGL takes the stage at Comerica Theatre to headline the annual Almost Acoustic Christmas concert.

Now, one year removed from the groundbreaking success of Here's to the Good Times, Up on the Sun spoke with FGL member Brian Kelley about achieving his wildest dreams, crossing genres to work with Nelly, and the band's first headlining tour.

I've heard your debut album referred to as the party album of the summer. I'd have to agree with that. We wanted to make an album that represents Tyler and me, where we come from and where we're at in life. We just put songs on it that we fell in love with that we wrote and a couple that we didn't. It's a feel-good album.

There are a couple darker songs, and a couple songs that make you think and reminisce. We just wanted to create an album that people can enjoy and know when they come to a show that they're going to party. We're very blessed that we have the most amazing fans in the world.

What does country music mean to you? Country music is amazing. We love all sorts of music, but country music is real and it comes from the heart. People are just connecting with it. The songs and the lyrics are honest and the stories are awesome. Country music has a great vibe and a great family atmosphere. On this side, it's great to be part of that family and that tradition. We love country music.

What other music do you listen to? We love rock, hip-hop, rap. If you listen to the album we have influences all over the map.

Would you ever record music in a different genre? Yeah. We actually did a remix with Nelly on our first single, "Cruise", and we did a song on his album called "Walk Away." We're big fans of crossing genres and doing things with different artists, but only if it feels right. We're not just going to do anything that comes around, but if it feels like Florida Georgia Line then we'll do it.

What was it like working with Nelly? It was incredible. He's a genius, man. He's such a hard worker and he's incredibly talented and creative. The success of him has been incredible, but even more than that, the relationship we have built with him and his crew is great. He's become a mentor to us and a big brother. We're just very blessed to be a part of that and it's a dream come true to work with him. I've been a fan of his music since I was in school.

Describe the songwriting process for Florida Georgia Line? You never know where songs are going to come from or how they're going to start. A lot of times we just have an idea, or a hook, or a melody or a title. You just never know, but when it does come together you just gotta be ready to write it down.

 

It seems like you two work really well together. We do. That's why we decided to do this together a long time ago. We figured we were better off together than separate. We're like brothers, man. A record label didn't put us together or anything like that. We chose to be together because we love each other like brothers, and we have a good connection with music.

You have been both nominated and won at nearly every major award show in the last year. Can you describe what that has been like? It's crazy. It's all been very, very humbling and very, very fast. It goes into having an amazing team, and amazing fans and country radio backing us up. It all feels good, and it all feels like a dream.

I think if anything, if success has changed us, it has just made us want to work harder. We want to continue this, and continue rocking and put out the best songs that we can. We're the same Brian and Tyler that started writing songs on his tailgate; success isn't going to change us.

Here's to the Good Times has now gone platinum. Did you ever think that would happen? We knew we had a special album, to be honest with you, we did. We never put a number on it and said, "It's going to do this or do that." We just knew people would love it, because we did and we knew our fans are a lot like us. To go platinum blew us away; that's definitely something that doesn't happen very often anymore.

Are you working on your next album? We have a re-package that came out on November 25 with five brand new songs and videos and behind the scenes content. For our second record, we've been working on that and writing on that and it'll be out sometime next year. We're not thinking about that right now, just about writing it and getting it ready.

What can all of the FGL fans in Phoenix expect at the Almost Acoustic Christmas show? We had a good time last time we were there. It's going to be the biggest party of the [season]. I can't wait for everybody to see the production, we've put a lot of time into it. We have lighting rigs that nobody else has, and video screens and some other tricks up our sleeve. More than anything, just focus on the music.

The song "I'm in a Hurry" by Alabama will be in the set. Anything kind of goes, we play as long and as loud as we want. Any Florida Georgia Line fan knows what to expect if they come to our show.

You'll be playing with Colt Ford and Cole Swindell who are also from Georgia. We're good buddies with both of them, man. We got our start with Colt years ago touring around in my car. We had this opportunity to come up and we said, "We have to have Colt come back out with us." And Cole Swindell is a great up and coming artist. We're a big fan of his song "Chillin' It". He's got huge things ahead of him.

Tell me about the sponsorship by Grainger on this tour. We're big believers in opportunities and giving people opportunities. We've been working with Grainger in a program called Tools for Tomorrow. It's a scholarship program for trade jobs. We're huge believers in that. We love any opportunity to give back, and we're all about hard work. It's what we know, and where we come from.

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