Chase Rice

Regardless of what happens next in his career, Chase Rice knows that he will be attached to one of the biggest country chart singles in Billboard history: Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise." Rice, one of the co-writers of the song, says that making his initial impact on the business as a tunesmith was very special.

"When I first moved here three years ago, that’s where my focus was -- on writing songs," he told Billboard. "I wanted to be the best songwriter I could be, and ended up co-writing one of the biggest songs in country music history. In my opinion, it's not the biggest or the best, but according to Billboard, it is. That's an honor I will probably never top as a songwriter."

Now, with the release of his new single and EP, "Ready Set Roll," Rice is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle once more – this time as a recording artist. He says he had some all-star help working magic behind the glass.

"We had Chris DeStefano and Scott Cooke co-produce it," he says – along with Rhett Akins and Chad Carlson. "It sounds bigger and better than anything I have ever put out, and the songs are better. For me, it’s a huge step. We’ve got a lot of momentum coming off of 'Cruise’ right now as a songwriter. But, even before that I was touring, and I have stayed touring. It’s been a huge year for that, and now we're putting out real good music on top of that."

If you are expecting Rice's music to be a carbon copy of "Cruise," Rice hopes you will be surprised. "The goal was not to sound like Florida Georgia Line – as similar as we are, and probably always will be – though we go in our different directions. I also didn’t want to sound like Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, or whoever. The most important thing was to create our own sound. We just wanted to make good music. You can call it country, pop, or hip hop. Who really cares?"

The singer admits that he knows people are going to be quick to compare, which he actually doesn't mind, but at the same time, he wants to set himself apart as an artist. Still, being a part of history isn’t a bad thing, he reasons. "People will automatically associate me with FGL because of 'Cruise,’ which is an honor. They are two of my best friends, and they are killing it."

Rice is also spending his share of time racking up the road miles. He admits that over the past year, it’s been hard to keep up with himself from city to city. "You hear a lot of people talk about going so much it becomes a blur, but it’s the truth. We tour so much all the time that every hotel looks the same. My mom asks me 'Where were you this week," and I sometimes have to say 'Mom, I don’t know where I went last week or going next week. I just know I’m in Nashville tonight.’ It is a blur. I try to take pictures and post them."

The crowd reaction has been very strong to his new single, Rice says. "We were in Tampa, and the guitar started playing on 'Ready Set Roll,’ and it was early in the set, and I said 'We're going to try a new one for you tonight,' and as soon as I said the title, they went nuts. It was because of YouTube, and also Sirius / XM. The Highway has been playing it a lot, as well. It’s amazing looking out and seeing people sing a song to me that’s not available. That’s a good early indication that people are liking it."

What does Rice hope fans will think of his music? He hopes they find it exciting and refreshing. That’s what he tries to bring to the table. "I’m just trying to find something new. There’s a song called 'Party Up’ on the new EP. We were going through the chorus, and trying to find something that hadn’t been said before. I just threw out the line 'Kill Another Six Pack Just To Watch It Die." I had never heard that before. I just threw it out there, but it winds up being one of my favorite lines on the album. Finding lines like that is the first step in taking to the next level. Actually, the song has a line in it that says 'When you hit ten, bump it to eleven.’ That’s always been a mindset of mine.’ When you think you’ve done it the best, go to the next level!"

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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