Love them or hate them (and most country purists fall firmly in the “hate them” camp), Florida Georgia Line aren’t going away. The duo of Brian Kelley (the Florida) and Tyler Hubbard (the Georgia) has become one of the mainstays of “bro country,” an entire genre dedicated to partying, drinking Fireball Whiskey, and ogling women in short shorts. Florida Georgia Line are joining fellow bro-country star Luke Bryan at TCF Bank Stadium on June 20, and this country purist got a chance to speak briefly with Kelley by phone ahead of the show.
Everyone wants to know – how much Fireball do you actually drink during a tour? Is it really as much as the radio would have me believe?
Brian Kelley: That’s a good question. We like our Fireball. It just keeps showing up in the buses! We keep it pretty tame [on tour]. We’re smart about it. We party professionally.
Have you been to Minnesota before?
We’ve been to Minnesota, good times. One of my favorite memories in Minnesota was summer 2012 – we were in the middle of the country on tour and we stopped and played WEFest.
Oh, that’s right, you played at WEFest! Isn’t it fun? I go every year.
We got to see Alabama play that night, and our fans showed up earlier that day. It was amazing. The fans were crazy and the whole vibe of WEFest in general was amazing.
What do you think about the Minnesota girls?
Well, I’m married, so I got me a great girl, but I bet there will be a lot of Minnesota country girls sitting on dudes’ shoulders having a good time. That’s my favorite thing to see.Florida Georgia Line has a very recognizable sound. When it comes on the radio, you know instantly who it is. What is that sound, exactly, and where did it come from?
It’s a combination of Tyler’s and my influences, our producer’s [Joey Moi, of Nickelback fame] influences. Joey’s helped us take our sound to the next level. He’s able to create these sounds that are huge, sounds we’ve heard in our heads – he’s brought it to life. So it’s a crazy mashup in the studio. It’s a pot of stew, we throw everything in there.
So who are your main influences?
We love it all. We grew up on Alan Jackson. Garth Brooks is my most influential artist for sure – he’s amazing. Lynyrd Skynard, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Juvenile. [Tyler and I] love everything. It’s more fun that way.
Florida Georgia Line's sound is kind of controversial because it’s such a blend. There’s a lot of change going on in country music right now – where do you think it’s going?
I don’t know why everyone decided to be a critic all of a sudden. It’s an exciting time; it doesn’t have to be controversial. Let good songs motivate people to write other good songs. The effect will be better-crafted songs, better country music. [Country music] goes through phases. And if you’re truly a lover of music, why would you complain about the evolution of [it]? We’re not going to sound like Johnny Cash. There’s only one Johnny Cash.