Q and A with concert artist Chase Rice

Q and A with concert artist Chase Rice

Country star Chase Rice visited the Erie Insurance Arena Tuesday evening to perform for hundreds of Gannon and Edinboro University students and fans. Prior to the performance, Rice answered questions provided and compiled by Gannon University’s Activities Programming Board (APB).

You chose to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where you were the linebacker on the football team. Were you recruited by the university?
I was recruited to UNC on a full scholarship.
Were you involved in any other organizations at your school?
Football and AIA (Athletes in Action)
Post-graduation you were selected to join the Hendrick Motorsports pit crew. What did you major in at college?
I double-majored in Management & Society and Communications at UNC. The job at Hendrick actually came when a buddy of mine from UNC, Chris Burkey, joined their pit crew development program.
At the time, they were trying to recruit more athletes to work on their pit crews, because it’s such a physically demanding job and they wanted people who had proven to have that kind of stamina and adaptability.
I’ve always been a fan of NASCAR – my dad was actually a racer and we grew up watching Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jr., Tony Stewart, all those guys. But my heart was in music, so eventually I knew I had to move to Nashville and chase that dream.
What got you into singing?
I’ve always loved music – my dad was a big country music fan, so we grew up listening to a lot of Garth Brooks, Chris LeDoux, a lot of those guys, but I also grew up listening to bands like the Foo Fighters, Blink 182 – everything. When I was in college, I started playing guitar just for fun, really. I played for my friends and my family, but eventually my dad told me that if I wanted to get the girls, I had to go out and sing – so I did!
And then after he passed away, during my senior year of college, music became an outlet for me to deal with that loss and I found my voice and discovered it was something I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Did you ever think you would make a career out of it?
When I was in college, I had my sights on the NFL. Football was my life and I worked really hard at it. I think if I had kept going, I probably could have made it, but then I got injured and had to start thinking about something else. Music was there for me.
When I first moved to Nashville, I started out writing songs and just trying to make as many connections in town as I could to learn the business side of it. You can dream about making a career in music, or anything you really love, but I knew that if I had even a prayer of making it happen I’d have to put in the work and try to build it one step and one fan at a time.

Who are your music inspirations and why?
I’ve always loved country music, so guys like Garth Brooks, Chris LeDoux, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church – not only do I love their music, but I really respect how they’ve built their careers and are always at the top of their game. But I also listen to the Foo Fighters, Eminem, so it’s a really eclectic
mix and I think that comes through in my music, too.
These days, people are able to access music in so many different ways that I think we’re all influenced by a lot of different styles and genres of music.
Tell me about the process of co-writing Florida Georgia’s hit single “Cruise.” Were you all just in the studio one day or was there a story behind it?
Brian Kelley and I actually grew up together in Florida, before I moved to North Carolina, so we go way back. When I first came to Nashville, I ended up moving in with them and so we wrote together a lot back then.
The day we wrote “Cruise,” we were actually working on a slow song and Brian started playing this riff — we all looked around at each other and said, “Let’s write that.” I think it took us about 45 minutes and we had “Cruise.”
So your cover of “Ride” began as a joke — tell me a little about that, and your process of recording the song with a country twist on it.
Well, anyone who knows me knows that I like to push the boundaries a little bit. I’m a fan of SoMo, so I thought it would be funny one day to tweet at him saying we were going to make a country song – and he was all about it! So we ended up cutting the song, and then he actually came to Nashville to shoot the music video we did for it, and now it’s become one of the highlights of our live show. We like to have a little fun with that one.
Is this your first headliner tour and do you have one memory or funny story that you will always remember?
This is actually our fourth headlining tour – our first one was around the time the “Ready Set Roll” EP came out, in 2013, and Live Nation asked us to headline their Ones To Watch tour.
Then we did the Ignite The Night Tour in 2014-2015, and our biggest one yet was the JD and Jesus Tour last fall, after we wrapped on The Big Revival Tour with Kenny Chesney.
How has it been touring with Jon Langston and Lacey?
Jon and Lacey are both great. We always try to find artists that are unique, whether it’s their style or their sound – as a songwriter, I really gravitate toward those kinds of artists and we try to mix it up on every tour and give people a variety of music when they come to one of our shows.
What was your inspiration for “Ready Set Roll,” and did you expect it to blow up as it did?
“Ready Set Roll” has been huge for us, because it was our first song on country radio and will always be special because it was our first hit. I wrote it with Rhett Akins and Chris DeStefano, who also produced my last album, “Ignite The Night.” I don’t know if you can ever expect a song to blow up the way that it has, but it definitely changed my life and I have my fans and listeners to thank for that. And it was pretty cool to get my first platinum plaque as a solo artist for that song.
Who do you want your music to reach? What’s you’re desired audience?
I think as both a songwriter and artist, you just hope your music and your art connect with people – that’s the great thing about music. Everybody hears it and interprets it in their own way, but it brings people together in a way that nothing else really can.
At our live shows, I see people from all walks and stages of life – some people are just there to party and have a good time and forget about their worries for an hour and a half. So songs like “Ready Set Roll,” “Do It Like This,” “Ride” – those are for the good times.
And then there are people who show up and maybe they’re going through a rough time in their lives. Maybe they lost someone or they’re just feeling a little lost themselves – I’ve been there too, and songs like “Jack Daniels & Jesus” or “Carolina Can,” those are the songs that go a little bit deeper and acknowledge some of those harder, darker moments in our lives.
Not everyone is going to love my music, and that’s OK – but it’s who I am, and I just hope that whatever it is, it makes them feel something.