It's been more than two decades since a new country act has captured the public's imagination the way Florida Georgia Line has.
The duo's multi-week #1 single, "Cruise," hit the Top 10 just 14 weeks after its release, faster than any debut since Brooks & Dunn’s “Brand New Man.” It's the kind of affirmation few young artists ever experience, and yet was just the cap on a year that saw Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard thrill audiences on tour dates with Alabama, Brantley Gilbert and Jake Owen; cut an EP and their first album HERE’S TO THE GOOD TIMES with producer Joey Moi (Nickelback, Jake Owen) and sign a label deal with Republic Nashville -- after selling nearly 200,000 digital downloads independently. To date, “Cruise,” alone has sold well over two million, garnering DOUBLE PLATINUM certification; reached #1 on the iTunes Country Singles Chart and helped secure them a spot on Luke Bryan’s “DIRT ROAD DIARIES TOUR” in 2013.
"It's a dream come true," adds Brian, "although it still kind of feels like just yesterday that we were writing the first couple of songs on the back of Tyler's tailgate."
Those tailgate writing sessions, not long after the two met as students at Nashville's Belmont University, kicked off a partnership that has made them one of country's hottest young acts. The fact that their own hard work and game plan fueled so much of the journey makes it doubly sweet.
"Cruise," which Country Weekly called “a hip hop hybrid of crunchy electric guitar riffs, rap lyrics and backwood boondock roots that would make Kid Rock proud and Jason Aldean envious," is the platinum-plated introduction to their debut album. Working with Moi, Florida Georgia Line has captured within its 11 songs all the excitement and energy of the live show that launched their reputation.
Their first, independently produced EP, 2010's Anything Like Me, included the Tyler-penned song "Black Tears," which was covered by Jason Aldean on his chart-topping 2012 gold album Night Train. They picked up a booking agent, Buddy Lee Attractions, and then Seth England from platinum songwriter/publisher Craig Wiseman's Big Loud Shirt publishing company met with them, setting in motion a process that led to their second EP, this one produced by Moi. One of its songs was "Cruise," and its success helped them turn the corner.
The work, the life lessons, and the youth and energy they bring to the table are all part of what they pour out each night on stage and what they've brought to the table with their first album.
"Our friends are really excited," adds Brian, "but to them I think we're still just two guys who started out doing music on the back of a tailgate and have been working hard at it and trying to get better. And with the way my parents and Tyler's family have also been so supportive along the way, it's like everybody's success, not just ours."
And judging from their reaction, fans consider it theirs too.