Before they were Florida Georgia Line, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard were just high school kids helping out at church. And that, they told me, is one of the reasons their live show is what it is today.
"Our backgrounds in Christian music may not be a huge influence in our music right now, but I'll tell you what," Kelley said Thursday night (Oct. 31) when we caught up before their sold-out show in Chicago. "There's a huge correlation in leading worship and leading 10,000 people in an arena. I would say that's exactly where we got our feet wet in how to lead people, how to interact with people and how to get them connecting with us.
"Leading worship is how that happened. It might not be the same music, but if you can get people engaged in what you're doing in church, you can easily do that at a bar or an arena or anywhere else."
Hubbard added that they both love doing worship music and were involved in it throughout high school and in their college years at Belmont University in Nashville."
"We both dabbled in writing Christian music," Kelley explained. "I mean, we're songwriters at heart, so we just take it day by day, and obviously country's at the core. We've written any kind of song you can think of -- some stuff that doesn't even have its own genre. It just depends on the day. We like to have fun and keep things fresh and really challenge ourselves and find a way to say something that no one else has said."
Since the duo's first three singles headed straight to the No. 1 spot on the charts, I doubt they'll trade in their party themes for straight-up Christian music any time soon. Songs about moonshine, Southern Comfort, lift kits, bikinis and wild cherry lip gloss seem to be working out just fine for Florida Georgia Line. But knowing that their background in worship is how they honed their live shows makes every concert seem a little bit like a religious experience. If they put some candles on a toolbox, it might seem downright holy.