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Q&A: Chase Rice

Separating himself from some of the Nashville flock, Chase Rice is ready to roar with a new album, Lambs & Lions, while continuing to reach higher to defy a Survivor-type music industry.

Donna Leahey
September 29, 2017

Chase Rice is a young country star rising fast. This talented singer-songwriter’s classic style is flavored with eclectic influences. His second major label album, Lambs & Lions will be released Nov. 17. You can get a taste of the album with singles “Three Chords and the Truth” and “Lions” already released.

Rice is a man with a strong faith, not just in God, but in himself. His first major album, Ignite the Night debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and spawned two top-five singles.

In his 31 years, he’s played college football (University of North Carolina), served as a NASCAR pit crew member, and came in second, by one vote, on the 21st season of CBS’s Survivor: Nicaragua. As a country star, Rice is still living life to the fullest, with a 2015 CMT nomination for Breakthrough Video of the Year and a 2016 American Country Music award nomination for ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year

Q: The first single released from your new album, Lambs & Lions, is titled "Three Chords and the Truth." What is the truth in that song?

A: That’s an old saying from Harlan Howard, a great song writer from back in the day. Someone asked him, “What is country music to you?” and he said, “Three chords and the truth.” I’d say the biggest truth about this song is the memories that are attached to the songs mentioned in the lyrics. You’ve got “Amazing Grace,” “In the Sweet By-and-By,” “Walk the Line,” “Anything but Mine,” and “Copperhead Road.” Those songs take me to a certain place and a certain memory. That’s the truth for me. Those songs are so attached to me and the truth for me, and it’s a double meaning in the song. Each of those songs is also three chords and a classic, truthful song in their own right.

Q: The second single, "Lions," off the Lambs & Lions album has an edge, angry and defiant. What was your inspiration for that one?

A: I played college football, so add that with my desires in music to take things as far as I can possibly take them, and it can get dangerous real quick. And with that one, it did. I had the title of the track and thought it sounded weird and crazy. And then I had the title Lambs & Lions and didn’t know what that meant. Then I was talking with [songwriters] Ashley Gorley and Chris DeStefano on what I thought it meant, and there’s a lot of biblical stuff about lambs and lions like rise and rise again until lambs become lions. And that’s real important to me, so that’s basically where we landed on the song. In life, there’s lambs and lions, and which one do you choose to be? I chose to be the lion. And that’s what every man and woman should do, come to a point where they have to choose. Do you want to be walked all over or stand up for yourself and be that lion?

Q: Is faith something that's important to you?

A: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s slowly gotten more important to me. And the coolest part about it is that wasn’t fully intentional. The spirituality of this album was being thrown in there without me really knowing. And then it slowly, over the last three few years, grew and became more important; that’s the way my dad raised me. He prayed with us every night, so it’s always been with me.

Q: You seem to take pride in your identity as a Southerner. How does that inform who you are?

A: That should be who everybody is, if you ask me. You go all the way back to biblical times or even like Game of Thrones. Those guys are like, “I’m Ned Stark from Winterfell.” For whatever reason that got lost. “I’m Chase from North Carolina.” I don’t know why people stopped referring to themselves like that. That just shows how important it is to define someone not just as who you are, but where you’re from.

Q: Your first major label album, Ignite the Night, was released three years ago and you've already achieved CMT and ACM acclaim with nominations. You've got top-five hits, a No. 1 album and now you're headed out on a worldwide tour. With so much success coming so fast, how do you keep it real?

A: I’m not sure I would have if this record had come out earlier. We were bouncing off “Ready Set Roll” and “Gonna Wanna Tonight.” And we were having a lot of success real fast, and then you got to figure out how to top that. The album got delayed due to some disagreements with my label. Now that I look at it, that was a blessing in disguise, because it became the album that it did over the last year and a half and got songs on there that would have never been on there. I’m learning slowly that I’m going to be me whether that helps or hurts. If you’re trying to be a better version of yourself, you can’t go wrong.

Q: What will your concerts look like?

A: We’re doing new stuff. We have a new keys player. We got a new song, “Eyes on You,” a new set, and a new intro. It’s all new. It’s definitely in your face, like our shows are known to be.

Q: Who are some of your musical influences?

A: They’re all over the map. One is Chris LeDoux. It’s a huge honor to have his son, Ned LeDoux, on my album. We’re singing one of Chris’ songs, “This Cowboy’s Hat,” which is one of my favorite songs of all time. Other influences are guys like Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney. In high school, I started listening to guys like Eminem and Blink-182 and those guys came into my life, and that’s probably why there’s so many different sounds in my music.

Q: What did you learn about yourself from your experience on Survivor?

A: I still look back on that, and it was an unbelievable experience. They’ve asked me back twice, and I’ve refused twice. There’s a lot of things in music that can relate to that. You’re around a lot of people who don’t want you around, like other record label heads, other artists because you’re taking their spot, and that’s kind of what Survivor is. So, you can take that directly into the music world, it’s Survivor-world in Nashville as well.

Q: What do you think it is that leads you to these interesting lives?

A: Like I said, I didn’t even know that this album was going to have biblical influences when I started writing it. God has my back and turned me that way. And I think he did the same thing in my life. I ain’t that good, I can promise you that. I’ve failed, but when the call comes, I’ve succeeded at it as well. Yeah, when those opportunities came my way, those weren’t from me, those were from a higher power that I don’t have any control over.

Chase Rice
Paradise Cove | River Spirit Casino Resort
8330 Riverside Pkwy. | Tulsa
Oct. 27: 8 p.m.
Must be 21 or older to attend