Originally published in the October 29, 2012 issue of Country Weekly magazine.
Members: Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley
Hometown: Tyler: Monroe, Ga.; Brian: Ormond Beach, Fla.
Influences: Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Corey Smith, Casting Crowns, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa
Label: Republic Nashville
Crossing State Lines
Georgia and Florida are neighboring states, but it took Tyler and Brian both moving to Tennessee to attend Nashville’s Belmont University before the musical pair crossed paths. The guys met through mutual friends, bonded over their love of great music and by their senior year were writing songs together. There was never a plan to be artists—it just evolved into that—but they smartly tapped into their Southeastern Conference roots to build a fan-following when they started touring, landing opening slots early on for artists such as Florida-native Jake Owen, and Georgia boys Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford.
Who You Know
Being savvy, young artists, the pair took the “biz” into their own hands at the beginning. Through social networking on Twitter and Facebook, and posting show and behind-the-scenes footage on their YouTube “Inside the Line” videos, their reach began to expand. Of course, it helped that Jake, also a social-media junkie, had established himself as a fan early on. Tyler says, “That was a pretty big deal for us just to have the support of somebody like Jake, and it’s crazy with social media what the support of somebody with Jake’s status can do.”
Tyler and Brian’s debut single, “Cruise,” is more an anthem to their laid-back lifestyle than a story. Even though life has been a whirlwind since they signed their record deal, the pair makes an effort to maintain some normalcy. “You do have to find time for yourself to stay mentally healthy and sane,” Tyler says with a laugh. “Every couple of weeks we get a day off and we sit around and eat pizza and watch a movie and get back to ourselves for a minute.” It also helps that the fellas are truly friends. “I don’t think we’ve ever really had a huge argument, even with our team,” Brian says. “It’s like one big family. We’re all pretty much in agreement, and if there is something that’s a little off, we’ll figure out a way to make it better and at the end of the day agree on it, so everybody’s happy and it feels like the right decision.”
photo by Adam Taylor/Republic Nashville