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Florida Georgia Line finds life beyond ‘Cruise’

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Jason Aldean

With Florida Georgia Line and Tyler Farr

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland, Tinley Park

Tickets: $38.75-$74.50


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Updated: September 8, 2014 7:05AM

It’s highly unlikely Florida Georgia Line will attempt to reinvent the good ol’ wheel that got them this far on their new album, set for release this fall.

For the moment, the country duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley remain two talented singer-songwriters dripping with confidence. So confident that they say they weren’t the least bit hesitant to change up their Bro-Country status a bit with the release of a new song that has the duo’s longtime fan base reminded of what life was like before their 2010 multi-platinum hit “Cruise.”

“I think a ‘Cruise’-type song would have been accepted, but just when you think you have FGL figured out, we wanted to go against the grain and change it up with a song like ‘Dirt,’ ” says Kelley during a recent interview, regarding the first new single off their forthcoming album. “Career-wise, the smartest thing we could have done was having ‘Cruise’ in our repertoire. But then we started thinking ‘What’s going to top that for album two?’ Well, you can’t top that, but what you can do is come out with a song like ‘Dirt’ that is completely different and that can also show how open country music is right now.”

“Cruise” broke the record for longest No. 1 on Billboard’s hot country songs chart, and is the best-selling digital country single of all time according to SoundScan. FGL followed it up with the No. 1 hits “Stay,” “Get Your Shine On” and “Round Here” from 2012’s “Here’s to the Good Times.”

And while “Dirt” sways heavily away from the party anthems that the duo are known for, the song skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot on both the iTunes all-genre and country charts in the U.S. and Canada a few short weeks ago. “Getting that sort of response from the fans makes you want to get back into the studio and work as hard as we can to finish up the new album,” explains Kelley, who will join Hubbard in Chicago on Saturday as part of Jason Aldean’s “Burn It Down Tour.”

“It was like the fans were telling us ‘We got your back.’”

That kind of support has been welcomed by the duo, whose recent collaborations with artists such as Nelly and Jason Derulo have many a country traditionalist wagging their disapproving finger at the ACM’s Vocal Duo of the Year. Nevertheless, they say they’ll continue going with the music that “just feels right.”

“The new album is a continuation of what we did on ‘Here’s to the Good Times,’ but yeah, we have progressed as songwriters,” remarks Kelley while driving across the Tennessee countryside with his dog by his side. “We are just wired with a FGL sound that we have created with [producer] Joey Moi that we think is pretty special.”

For Kelley, the most special part of what he calls “a blur of two years in time” is having the time now to appreciate all that this “crazy ride” has given him alongside his new wife in their two-bedroom Tennessee tree house.

“I think me getting married and Tyler having a serious girlfriend didn’t change the direction of the new album, but it does change how you feel about certain songs,” Kelley says. “Of course we have matured. Our lives are better than ever.”

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