Florida Georgia Line: The Lean Years

Early on Friday morning (Aug. 15), Florida Georgia Line hit Central Park for a Good Morning America concert. The park was packed with fans standing elbow to elbow to hear them play. So it’s hard to believe that it’s only been two years since the band released their debut single, “Cruise.”

“It’s like half my brain feels like that’s flown by, and the other half feels like it’s been forever,” Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard admitted to me when they were playing a show in Chicago this month. And he remembers exactly what their concerts were like in the early days, when the crowds were nothing like the one at Central Park.

“Honestly, back in the day, we’d play anywhere that a few people were: hotels, restaurants, bars. I think we were just having fun with it, but we were working our butts off. And just trying to enjoy every minute of it,” he continued.

“It definitely wasn’t always comfortable or very accommodating to do what we do, but those were the times that got us here. And they taught us a lot, and they made us appreciate where we’re at now. We wouldn’t trade those days for the world. Those were some of the most fun years of our career. Definitely.”

The duo’s Brian Kelley agreed that those years were lean, and he admitted that having a fleet of tour buses is nice change from a crowded SUV.

“Before ’Cruise’ hit, we were playing clubs, and even before that we’d play little bars and little things here and there. We started in my Tahoe, then we moved up to a van, then a black Mercedes sprinter van, then a bus. And now we’ve got about five buses. Now we’re here,” Kelley said, gesturing to the luxury bus we were sitting in.

“The summer of 2012 was life-changing for us,” Kelley added. “Literally, every show we played, more and more people were coming. It was just snowball effect, I guess. It was really, really special.”

Florida Georgia Line’s upcoming album Anything Goes is due out Oct. 14.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.