Lee Brice: ‘If You Want to Know Who I Am, Go Listen to the Record’
Lee Brice is a busy man. He’s a father of two, including a new baby boy, he’s touring, he’s prepping for the release of his upcoming album and he’s busy writing songs — he does it all, and he seems to do it all extremely well.
Still, Brice took a few minutes out of his schedule to talk to Taste of Country about everything from his new music to being on the road and everything his life entails. The singer came to us casual in denim on denim, with a backwards red ball cap on, and his excitement for new music was all over him.
“This album is everything inside of me I needed to get out and I think I got it done. It’s a lot of me on the record. I played a lot of the instruments. I played most of the guitar and just did a lot of live stuff. It’s as me as I can possibly be at this moment in my life. So if you want to know who I am, go listen to this record,” Brice tells Taste of Country with a laugh.
‘I Don’t Dance’ is an eclectic mix of all of Brice’s favorite influences — both new and old. Some might even surprise you. “All of the influences I’ve ever had they all came out which is everything from Aerosmith to the Black Crowes to Garth Brooks to Hank Jr.,” the singer says of the album.
“A big thing on this record was I really fell in love with the Bruno Mars record that came out,” Brice admits. “I loved his throwback to classic sounds and classic genres and then also his marriage of those sounds with new, hip sounds … and so taking that kind of philosophy out, I wanted to keep the stuff that I love from steel guitar to all the country elements of what I grew up with and combine them with some stuff that I was hearing that might be a little out there.”
Although he’s proud of every song on the album, Brice says his favorite at the time of our chat (it changes daily) is one called ‘Always the Only One’ a special woman in his life — his wife, Sara.
“It’s a letter to my wife, and then I really got out there and did what I wanted to do musically on the production on it. It does all this cool stuff that I wanted songs to do. I played the guitar,” he shares with sheer excitement. “I did a solo on it. It was like all my dreams come true in a song and it was personal which is like the perfect storm to me.”
Even though that song may be his favorite as of now, he’s still really proud of the album’s first single. In fact, he says ‘I Don’t Dance’ is “one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”
“The intentions were to write a song for my wife … for our first dance,” Brice explains of the title track. “You never know what the song’s going to turn out to be and then when we got done with it I kind of felt like, ‘Ok, this is special.’ I could just tell. I told my co-writers I was like ‘Boys, this is the one. This is the one that’s going to show people who we really are and step out to the next level, hopefully.’”
He was right — the song debuted at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot Country chart.
Brice chose to let fans in on something very special for the music video he paired with the song, including pieces of his wedding footage in the clip. “I thought ‘You know, it’d be so cool to have a video and have it of your actual wedding footage,’” the singer says. “Before I’d ever done it I saw me spinning Sara around for our first dance and I saw that footage on the video.”
“So I just made sure that we had an old camera there — an old 8 mm camera,” Brice continues, mouthing the camera clicks. “We didn’t want the whole world to see all of our wedding, you know, but I wanted to show the gist and I wanted people to maybe feel like they were a part of it.”
When Brice and his team were creating the ‘I Don’t Dance’ album cover, they were inspired by none other than Tim McGraw. Brice thought about an old McGraw cover where the singer looked striking in front of a white background, and he thought he would try his hand at it. Ultimately, he changed the background to black, but it’s just as stunning. He’s seen posing along with a guitar — a pretty special guitar at that.
“I love the guitar. It’s my wedding present from my wife, that she gave me so it’s my ‘I Don’t Dance’ guitar,” he spills.
It’s obvious Brice is a bit of a softy, which may come as a surprise considering his stature and the fact that he used to play college football. He says that his fluffy interior came from music influences he had at an early age.
“That was my favorite stuff growing up. I listened to the love songs of Alabama and Vince Gill and even some of the rockers like Hank Jr. and Garth Brooks,” he starts. “Man, my favorite songs were their stuff that was ballads and stuff that had a little emotion to it. So I’m a sucker for that — I was used to it my whole life.”
Naturally, such emotion has carried over into Brice’s songwriting. These days, he’s so busy that he has to be picky with which songs he decides to devote the time to writing. Every once in a while, a big artist calls and wants that one particular song he’s been hard at work on.
“When I first was starting out, it was like, I would love to keep ‘More Than a Memory’ for myself, but then Garth Brooks calls and it’s like ‘Uh, duh,’” he says, smiling. “You know, if Garth calls, and I think he’s still looking for songs, I’ve still got plenty of songs I would love for him to record. There may be a couple of songs that I would hold for me no matter what but it’s such an honor for an other artist to want to record a song you wrote.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Brice. When he first moved to Nashville, he had nothing to go on and quickly realized what he’d have to do if he wanted to succeed in Music City. “It’s not about visiting Nashville for a short period of time and handing out your CD and if it doesn’t work, going home,” Brice says. “I learned that this is about meeting people and getting here and throwing your life into this and letting this be your life, because it’s a decision of a life. It’s not even really a decision of a career, ‘cause for a long time you might not have a career. I didn’t and a lot of people didn’t.”
Concludes the hitmaker, “You find out quick when you get here it’s really about being here, meeting people, making relationships, playing your songs over and over and over again and just staying at it.”
Lee Brice’s ‘I Don’t Dance’ album will hit shelves on Sept. 9.
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