MC: Coming up in Nashville, did you make the rounds of the songwriter nights and open mics?
Hubbard: That’s how we both got our start, playing songwriter nights at Club Indigo in Nashville. We developed a little fan base. Playing clubs like 12th & Porter, The Rutledge and all over Nashville. Those years are very instrumental in where we our now, cutting our teeth, working with a band, learning what songs not to play.
MC: What not to play?
Kelley: Believe it or not, we haven’t always been hit songwriters. We used to write bad songs.
MC: Did the live audience indicate to you which of your songs were working best?
Kelley: Pretty much, man. We used to write about five songs a week, and we’d play ‘em, and you could pretty much tell from the crowd response which song was working and which one wasn’t.
MC: We know that you both attended Belmont University, known for its strong music business curriculum. What were your majors?
Hubbard: My major was music business and BK’s was entertainment industry studies, pretty much the same thing.
MC: How effective was your education in preparing you for your careers?
Kelley: Belmont was a great experience for both of us. I think we learned the most in songwriting classes that we had, and a little bit of publishing. I think we both wish we would have paid attention a little more. And there is something to be said for going out and doing something. You learn the most when that happens. Belmont helped us get our feet wet, and in the relationships and with the contacts that we made. But getting out on the road, learning the hard way, and learning on our own has been the best way. We said, “Let’s go play for anyone who will have us,” and work out butts off and try to surround ourselves with great people and a great team. God’s been really good to us.
MC: Genre wise, Florida Georgia Line crosses boundaries: bringing hip-hop and rock elements into country.
Kelley: Yeah man, our influences are all over the map––we grew up listening to hip-hop, rock, Christian––country obviously––so all of the influences are meshed together into whatever you want to call it. When we’ve worked with Nelly and Jason Derulo it has been a great opportunity to bring those worlds together.
MC: The country listening demographic has become much younger these days. To what would you attribute this change?
Kelley: I think the sound of country is changing––there is new music out there and it’s different. We’re a little younger than some of the artists––it doesn’t make it better or worse; the music’s different, younger kids are going to listen to what they relate to. And I guess for some reason that’s us. Ever since day one Tyler and I said, “Let’s write real music that’s us.” We like to have a good time, drink some Jack Daniel’s, play real music, hang with our friends, and that’s the kind of music we want to make. We want to be good people. Our parents raised us really well; faith is important to us, and that’s how we want it to come out in our music.
MC: Speaking of younger audiences, what part does social media play in your relationships with your fans?
Hubbard: It’s a cool way for us to connect with the fans. They’re pretty open. They spill their hearts out. So social media is a good way for us to connect, communicate and for them to understand what we’re doing. People just want to feel connected and to feel like they know what’s going on in our lives. It’s also a really excellent way to grow the FGL fan base.
MC: Country artists have traditionally been very fan-centric with artists meeting fans after shows, and overall, being very accessible.
Hubbard: Absolutely. There is something different about the way it is. When we think about country music fans they’re passionate, loyal, love to party and crazy as hell. We have people waiting outside the buses. That’s the coolest thing; that people are into what we’re doing. It’s a fun time in the music business. Country is hot as hell, and we want to keep pushing ourselves. We have a lot of confidence and it’s helped us make a lot of music.
MC: In the next month, we will be hearing more about your new full-length album. What can fans expect?
Kelley: The way we look at recording an album is to record as many songs as we can. We like big sounding commercial country money-making songs to be singles. They feel good. We try to pack as many of those as we can on an album. We’re doing a few things out of the box. It’s a difficult task to pick singles.
MC: Going back to your newest single “Dirt.” It’s written by Rodney Clawson and Chris Tompkins, as opposed to being a song that the two of you collaborated on. Are you motivated to include songs that fit the FGL definition no matter where they come from?
Hubbard: Our fans deserve the best songs, regardless of whether we write them or other writers do. Look at Garth Brooks: he’s the ultimate entertainer. He can write songs and he can pick them and sing and entertain like a madman. That’s how we want to mold this. Our fans deserve the best, and that’s the end goal.