After moving to Music City in late 2010, Chase recorded an album, Dirt Road Communion, on his own Dack Janiel’s label and quickly beat the odds. He landed it on the Billboard Country Album chart, and launched one of his singles, “How She Rolls,” onto Hot Country Songs. In a world dominated by corporations, that’s no small feat for an artist working on his own.
“Cruise,” meanwhile, set an all-time record by spending more weeks at No. 1 on the country singles chart than any other song. A remix featuring rapper Nelly landed in the Top 5 on the pop chart. “Cruise” sold more than 5 million copies through mid-2013, though Chase refuses to rest on that accomplishment.
“Cruise” did, though, draw more attention to Chase’s own artistic career, which is already on a fast track. In conjunction with Dirt Road Communion, he hit the road on a heavy touring schedule, playing more than 150 dates annually. He sold out a dozen venues from Florida to Illinois, even while operating without a formal record company and without radio play.
Chase’s non-traditional mix of sound and style is intentional.
“I want to do something different,” he says. “I don’t want to go out there and sing the same old thing. Whether it’s the way I sing it, what I’m singing about or the production of it, I want it to be something fresh and new. If people like it, then great. If people don’t, then great. I’m gonna do what I want to do.”
That attitude has served Chase well since the start. He grew up on a farm in Asheville, North Carolina, listening to artists including Garth Brooks and Chris LeDoux. Initially, Chase was focused on football. He was ranked among the Top 25 prospects in the state when he played linebacker at A.C. Reynolds High School for Coach Poss.
Chase won a starting job at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and had the NFL draft in his sites when an on-field injury — a torn tendon in his left ankle — changed his career path. At the same time Chase was recovering from the injury, his father Daniel was battling melanoma. Daniel died six months later, but Chase carried on his father’s same relentless attitude after graduating – in true “11” form – with a double degree in management and communication. He took jobs in the NASCAR pit crews of Ryan Newman and Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson. They were great jobs — but Chase was distracted by his guitar.
“Music was always in my mind,” he explains. “I would get off work and want to go to the hotel and write. I wanted to travel to Nashville and hang out. That should have been a sign, but I couldn’t bring myself to quit, because it was such a cool job.”
In late 2010, Chase did go to Nashville for a weekend. He stayed with a couple friends, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, who were renting a house and had a bedroom that wasn’t being used. Before the weekend was up, Chase had decided to move in with his buddies, who in short order became Florida Georgia Line.
Chase made his Grand Ole Opry debut on May 25, 2014. “This is a huge milestone for me,” he said. “I will remember this night and that first moment onstage forever.”