- Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are the rising country duo Florida Georgia Line
- Veteran country songwriter Rodney Clawson co-wrote many of their songs
- But the pair say they dream of collaborating with rappers Lil Wayne or Wiz Khalifa
- "Music evolves, and we like to be on the cutting edge," says Hubbard
The rising country duo Florida Georgia Line -- Tyler Hubbard, 25, of Monroe, Georgia, and Brian Kelley, 27, of Ormond Beach, Florida -- are already topping the country charts, and they haven't even released their debut album yet. "Here's To The Good Times," which includes the hit tune, "Cruise," will hit stores December 4.
Not only do they have the support of fans, they've been generating Twitter buzz from big time country acts:
"Can't stop playing cruise by @FLAGALine! Crazy cool toon!!!!!" Keith Urban tweeted in September.
Meanwhile, Taylor Swift posted, "Doing interviews w/ a song stuck in my head="Focus. Answer the question. BABY YOU A SONG, YOU MAKE ME WANNA ROLL MY WINDOWS DOWN AND CRUISE."
Around the same time, Jennifer Nettles wrote, "Confession: Fave new guilty pleasure on country radio: @FLAGALine "Cruise". I dance. Big, ole belly and all. If u like country, check it out."
The attention from country music's heavy hitters has been quite the shout-out for Kelley.
"I think that's probably the biggest compliment, when you look up and you see your peers you look to, love and respect ... Keith Urban, Jennifer Nettles, Taylor Swift. That's one of those moments where you hit yourself and say -- are we dreaming?" said Kelley.
Despite making their name in country music, the duo cite hip-hop and rap as their biggest influences. "Everybody in the high school parking lot was either blaring some country music or blaring rap -- and I guess over the years it just kind of comes together somewhere in the middle," Hubbard said. "There's not really a genre for what we do," he continued. "We're believers that music evolves, and we like to be on the cutting edge of music."
Hubbard and Kelley admit they dream of collaborating with Lil Wayne or Wiz Khalifa -- but they also have strong roots in country songwriting, having co-written many tracks from their debut album with veteran country songwriter Rodney Clawson.
Clawson has written hit songs for George Strait, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and more. The duo weren't intimidated.
"We just walked in ... get to know each other and sip on some coffee, start trying to write a song -- you know, see what happens. It was really smooth and quick. Everything just kind of came out," Hubbard said.
"The hardest part is getting Rodney off the lake to write a song," joked Kelley. "He loves some fishing."
The success of Florida Georgia Line's debut single "Cruise" landed them on tour with headliners Jake Owen and Love and Theft.
"So far, it's probably been the best tour we've been on. It's been just great. We're great friends with Eric, Steve in Love and Theft, and Jake. ... Memories are being made," Kelley said.
The duo are wrapping up their current tour in December, but will be joining fellow country artist Luke Bryan on tour in 2013.
Hubbard and Kelley started their current tour in a Chevy Tahoe. One of the things they're looking forward to is upgrading vehicles.
"I'm most excited about getting out there and experiencing a long tour in a tour bus and getting to hang out with Luke," Kelley said. "Every tour we go on, you always make really good friends with everybody out there. And by the end of the tour you feel like a family."