Chase Rice, who will play the Round Up in Davie on Thursday, is a country singer of many hats. He co-wrote Florida Georgia Line’s multiplatinum hit “Cruise.” He was a linebacker on the University of North Carolina team that crushed the Miami Hurricanes’ 2004 title hopes. He worked on the pit crews of NASCAR stars Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman. And he was a TV star, appearing with former Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson on “Survivor: Nicaragua.”
No surprise, his try-anything attitude also extends to his new EP, “Ready, Set, Roll” (due out Oct. 15), which tests the boundaries of country music with a title track that includes a dalliance with hip-hop and electronica.
“And a robot. There’s a robot in there, too,” Rice says. “I love doing stuff that people don’t expect. I’m pretty sure a robot is not something being done a lot in country music.”
Nor are there many country songwriters who would think to rhyme “Chevrolet” and “Shades of Grey,” as Rice does in another new song, the suggestive canoodling-in-the-woods anthem “Country in Ya.”
“Yeah, that’s one of my prouder moments,” Rice says of his songwriting career. “I like taking stuff too far and see if someone will pull me back. I’ve gone too far my whole life, and things have worked out so far.”
Make no mistake, for all the sci-fi and literary allusions, Rice is all country. The Nashville resident grew up near Daytona Beach “running dogs and hunting deer,” before he moved to Asheville. N.C., when he was about 11. He has a “jacked-up” Chevy Avalanche, but his 1985 Chevy Silverado pickup (black with a mere 3-inch lift) is his pride and joy.
“I love old trucks,” says the former NASCAR jack man and rear tire carrier who just wrote “Look at My Truck.” “I’ll have that truck till the day I die.”
He likes to fish, and one of his rare visits to South Florida was to spend time on a boat with Jimmy Johnson in Islamorada. (Rice also has been friends for years with current Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline, after he met the receiver’s sister at one of his concerts in Ohio.)
And while he’s not apologizing for his appreciation for hip-hop — “you go to a tailgate at a country show, and you’ll hear country music, but you’ll also hear hip-hop,” he says (perhaps including the Nelly cameo on "Cruise") — Rice grew up bouncing around his father’s truck to a soundtrack of Garth Brooks and Chris LeDoux. That’s where his heart is, as illustrated onstage when he weaves his song “Jack Daniel’s and Jesus” with moments from Brooks’ big hit “The Dance.”
“Garth Brooks … is the greatest entertainer country music has ever seen,” Rice says. “And ‘The Dance’ is the best country song of all time.”
IF YOU GO
Chase Rice will perform 9 p.m. Thursday at Round Up (9020 W. State Road 84, Davie). Michael Ray opens. Tickets $10. Call 877-297-2867 or go to RoundUpCountry.com. More on Chase Rice at ChaseRice.com.
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