Editor’s note: Check out Florida Georgia Line’s live version of “Get Your Shine On” from CMT’s Instant Jam concert special premiering Friday (Oct. 17) at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
If there are still naysayers out there who think Florida Georgia Line‘s music is just a passing fad better left ignored, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley would like to point them in the direction of Anything Goes, the duo’s second album which was released Tuesday (Oct. 14).
“I think in a way, we were out to prove something,” Kelley told CMT.com. “I don’t think we ever talked about it, but everybody’s asking us how we’re going to live up to ‘Cruise,’ and we never tried to. We have ‘Dirt.’ It’s a whole different direction, a whole different movement, a whole different beast in itself.”
True, “Dirt” is different than “Cruise,” which is now known as the best-selling country digital song in history. The new single is slower, more thoughtful and carries some real emotional weight. One of its most memorable lines is, “You know you came from it/And one day you’ll return to it,” a deep hook for even the most devoted country purists.
And then there’s “Sun Daze,” a carefree, upbeat ditty proclaiming the virtues of good weed and a hazy afternoon spent behind sunglasses.
Taken together, the songs show why the FGL boys named their second project Anything Goes and also offer a strong response for all those “How are you going to top ‘Cruise’?” questions.
“‘Cruise’ got us on the map,” Kelley declared. “‘Dirt’ is gonna keep us there, and now it’s time to party a little bit with ‘Sun Daze.'”
CMT: When you announced the album, you talked about beats and heavy bass. I even had to look up what an 808 drop was. Did those drum machine samples make it on there?
Kelley: Yeah, and we actually had that on the first record in the song “Itz Just What We Do” and maybe “Dayum Baby” once or twice. The thing is to figure out how to use them and where to use them in different songs, and I think one in particular is in “Anything Goes.” That last chorus: (sings) “I brought the song … BOOM!” That was Tyler’s idea to have that moment right there. That’s what I think takes great songs to the next level, is creating moments.
On a similar note, “Sun Daze” is all about capturing a certain contented feeling, and it’s the most different-sounding song on the record. What did you like about that one?
Hubbard: We couldn’t help it. We were dancing the whole time we were writing the song. It was just a party, and it was fun from day one, even before the song was finished. And believe it or not, we were done with the album when we wrote “Sun Daze.” We came back to Nashville, and we were like, “Dude, we need to cut ‘Sun Daze.'”
You guys and a few other artists have started singing openly about smoking weed, like in “Sun Daze.” Is that a decision that has to be made in a conference room someplace?
Hubbard: Not in our world. (laughs) We wrote it and kind of looked at each other, and BK had literally said that earlier that morning (“All I want to do today is wear my favorite shades and get stoned.”) And we laughed about it and said, “To heck with it. It’s just a fun song. Whatever. Let’s write what we want to write.” … We’re big on being transparent. We always have been. We want everybody to know who we are and where we’re at. I think it’s a pretty accepted thing, and if it’s not, it doesn’t really matter to us.
Kelley: It’s such a lighthearted song, you can’t really get mad at it.
If you go to just about any country concert nowadays, it does seem to be pretty accepted by country fans.
Kelley: At our shows, it is. Smells like it is. (laughs)
How much responsibility did you feel to keep this incredible career momentum going as you started the second record?
Kelley: We were just motivated more than anything. I guess, in a sense, there was a sense of responsibility, but me and Tyler felt like there was no pressure because we had so much confidence from country radio and our fans, and we were writing so much and playing so many shows that we felt like we were staying relevant.
The songs that we ended up cutting are the best songs that we could find, the best songs we could write, just like album one. It’s the same recording process — we’re still in the middle of touring, in the middle of all this madness and craziness — and I think all that good energy and all those good things that are happening really show on this record.
Did you have any tough musical decisions to make?
Hubbard: It’s always difficult to pick songs. We’re blessed to be around a lot of amazing songwriters, so there’s a lot of amazing songs to pick through. We had 35 songs on the board at one point and had to narrow it down to 15.
What about philosophically? When you sit down with your team, are you trying to pick out a direction to go?
Hubbard: I think for us, we’re big on our live show. We want to pick songs that we will want to sing every single night for the next five or 10 years. So that’s big. You can like a song one day and then not like it the next morning. So, for us, we try to live with these songs as long as possible before we start cutting an album.
You’ve stuck with the producer of your first album, Joey Moi. What do you think is similar about the sound of this one?
Hubbard: I think it’s still got that same feel, the FGL touch — or Joey Moi touch, if you will. But I think it’s enhanced. I think it’s matured. I think it’s gotten better.