Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard has become adept at changing gears.
For example, last week he tweeted: “#FarmerHubbard wakes up at 6am. #RockStarHubbard wakes up at 6pm.”
This week, Florida Georgia Line, country music’s hottest duo, headlined Moondance Jammin Country Fest on Friday in Walker, Minn., and on Saturday FGL will open for Luke Bryan on a five-act bill at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“You headline and you do a 70-, 80-, 90-minute set and then you get 60 minutes with Luke for 60,000 people. It’s cool to switch it up,” Hubbard said on a recent “Farmer Hubbard” morning without missing a beat. “We like to keep on mixing it up.”
On FGL’s second album, last fall’s “Anything Goes,” the duo switched from full-time party animals to country boys who can turn serious — if only for one song. That was on “Dirt,” the album’s first single, a ballad that climbed to No. 1 with its descriptions of all the things country folks do on, um, dirt.
“We have a lot of different sides of who we are in our music,” explained Hubbard, 28. “I think we’ll continue to do that more on album No. 3, diversitize the album and try to have a song for everybody on the album. We’ll continue to expand.”
On the rest of “Anything Goes,” FGL is pretty much in the party mode because that’s how Hubbard and his 29-year-old partner, Brian Kelley, roll. Take “Sun Daze,” their reggae-baked single that made it to No. 3 on the country chart. It name checks both Merle Haggard and Mick Jagger, an artist whom Florida Georgia Line will be following into TCF Bank Stadium.
“Oh, man. I hope the Stones left us some good vibes on that stage,” Hubbard said. “That’s amazing. That’s an honor. They sure are an act to follow. We’ll give it all we’ve got, for sure.”
Rapper Nelly gave FGL a salute last month in concert at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center (opening for New Kids on the Block) when he did his version of “Cruise.” He had performed on FGL’s remix of the song — which made it to No. 4 on the pop charts in 2013 — and it received the loudest reaction of any song in his set that night.
“That’s so funny, man,” Hubbard said. “It’s amazing to see that song get a rebirth, if you will. I got to see him play that song in Nashville and it was a special moment.”
Hubbard, from Monroe, Ga., and Kelley, from Jacksonville, Fla., met at Belmont University in Nashville, moved in together and began gigging on weekends. Nickelback producer Joey Moi discovered them at a county fair and produced their 2012 debut, “Here’s to the Good Times.” It became the sixth-best-selling album of any genre in 2013.
Florida Georgia Line mixes country, hip-hop and rock along with the energy, bravado and camaraderie of a WWE tag team.
“That’s a good analogy,” Hubbard said. “The energy of those guys is through the roof — backstage, onstage, whatever it is. We can relate to them because every night is kind of like that for us. We always give 110 percent.
“I’d say they have some influence on us. We’ve done several events with WWE. They’re amazing people. We love being part of them. It’s a good team effort with people like that.”
Like WWE upstarts, FGL knows the importance of being on a bill with superstars.
“We’ve been blessed to go out with some amazing artists, no doubt,” Hubbard acknowledged. “Luke and Jason [Aldean] and Jake Owen and Taylor Swift and the list goes on and on.”
Was Nickelback, those popular but lowest common denominator rockers out of Canada, an influence?
“A little bit,” Hubbard said. “We’ve always been a fan of Nickelback. Joey can do anything. We call him the wiz in the studio. He brings our sound to life.”
Bit of an odd couple
Hubbard, who has longish hair, describes Kelley, who has a tall crew cut, as “a great friend, a great husband, a creative person, super-talented and my best friend. I wouldn’t do this without him.” Hubbard describes himself as “just like BK except I’m a clean freak and BK’s not. We’re both hustlers. We like to work hard.”
Florida Georgia Line has been lumped into the bro-country movement along with Luke Bryan and other male stars because they sing about beer, trucks and partying.
“It doesn’t really faze me much,” Hubbard said of the oft-dissed bro-country label. “I think it’s funny that there’s a name for it with dudes dominating country. I don’t think too much about it.”
When asked to respond to unscientific research that showed many commonly used phrases in Bryan’s songs — “girl,” “shake it,” “baby,” “country,” “lips,” “beer,” “truck” — Hubbard said, “That’s why those words are on our no-no list when we’re writing songs nowadays. I don’t study Luke Bryan songs that hard. If you’re doing that that hard, you’re not enjoying the music. Enjoy it for what it is. If you don’t like it, change the station.”
Or be like Hubbard and just change gears.