FRI • JUNE 14, 2019 • 7:30PM
350 S 1st St
Jacksonville OR 97530
The only formula is putting out good music,” says Chase Rice. “It’s as simple as that. I’m not letting anyone or anything get in the way of that anymore.”
Rice released his ten-song album Lambs & Lions late last year with new label partner BBR Music Group / BMG—the follow-up to 2014’s Ignite the Night, which hit No. 1 on the country charts and reached the top five of the all-genre Billboard 200—but with Lambs & Lions, he is making a fresh start. With a new label and a renewed sense of creative purpose, he is making music that draws from multiple sources and influences, but is unified by his vision, integrity, and honesty.
“This is an album that stands for what I stand for,” says Rice. “I don’t think of myself as a country artist specifically—I’m here to be an artist, period. I’m very proud of the country genre, and I think we have some big country radio songs on here, but outside of that, there’s a story I wanted to tell, regardless of genre. I had to completely put out of my mind what anyone else would think. I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I took it as far as I possibly could.
Born in Florida and raised on a farm in Asheville, North Carolina, Rice was a promising linebacker at the University of North Carolina. “Football wired me for the rest of my life,” he says, “including in some wrong ways. So, I’ve had to learn to be more sensitive and when to be more aggressive. It’s a focus you carry on to everything you do in life.”
Encouraged by his father, he began playing guitar and writing songs in college. After his father died and an injury ended his football career, music became his solace during a period of depression. (The slogan he took to writing inside the brim of his baseball caps, "HDEU," served as a reminder to keep his head down, working, but his eyes up, looking forward to the future—and now inspires his clothing company, Head Down Eyes Up.)
After college, Rice was selected as a NASCAR pit crew member, winning two championships with Hendrick Motorsports, and then took time away to escape and became a contestant on Survivor: Nicaragua. But his heart never left music, and he knew he had to take his shot at Nashville. Soon after arriving, he was part of the team that wrote Florida Georgia Line’s Diamond-certified smash “Cruise.” After a couple independent album releases of his own, Rice signed a major label deal.
It was the peak moment for country songs about girls, trucks, and parties, and the Ignite the Night album spun off several hit singles, including the Platinum-certified “Ready Set Roll” and Gold “Gonna Wanna Tonight.” Rice still feels connected to this earlier work. “I can still completely relate to those songs,” he says. “I’m still proud of that record. It got people to come to the shows, put me on a farm I otherwise would never have, and made me into the artist I am today.”
Chase Rice points to a number of other artists as inspirations—Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Bruce Springsteen, Darius Rucker (“My God, he changed completely!”). But he says that he holds no single musician as a role model. “Every artist needs to figure out their own way,” he says. “There are so many right ways to do it. The best way is just to be yourself and be good to people. I think you do that and you’ll be alright.”