How do the members of Florida Georgia Line roll? In a pimped-out star trailer with white shag carpeting.
That's where Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard were Thursday morning, anyway, shortly before they were due onstage at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion to rehearse for the Kids' Choice Sports Awards. The Nickelodeon special, set to air Thursday night at 8, will feature a performance by the rowdy country duo, whose brand-new single, "Dirt" – about a patch of earth so sweet it makes you want to "build a 10-percent-down, white-picket-fence house" on it -- just topped Billboard's country chart.
"How you like our camper?" Hubbard asked me when I stepped inside, to which his bandmate raised an objection. "I don't think you can call it a camper," Kelley said, "if it's got this kind of carpet."
What song are you guys playing tonight?
Kelley: We're doing a mash-up of "Cruise" and "This Is How We Roll."
I saw you do both of those a few months ago at Stagecoach, and I think it was the loudest country show I've ever heard.
Hubbard: We like to crank it up, man -- throw a little party every night.
Kelley: The louder the better.
Can you do that at a kids' show? Is it right to put that much bass in a child's face?
Hubbard: That's what we're doing!
Kelley: It's gonna be bumpin' tonight, for sure.
Speaking of bumping, "Dirt" kind of doesn't. It's more thoughtful and low-key than what you're known for.
Kelley: I actually think it's more of a return. If you listen to our early songs – the ones we started writing in 2009, when we started together -- it's more in that vein. I think "Dirt" gets back a little to our roots. The party's definitely coming after that song. But when we met with our label and our whole team, pretty much everybody said "Dirt's" gotta go first. It's such a powerful lyric. You get goosebumps from it.
Hubbard: I got a text this morning from my cousin saying she had to pull over on the side of the road because she heard it on the radio and it made her tear up and she couldn't hardly see. If it touches everybody like that, it's gonna be a good song for us.
It's definitely touching some: Last week it was at No. 40 on the country chart, and now it's at No. 1.
Kelley: We feel like it's a strong song, but you never know. But once again our fans blew it up and spread the word. On iTunes, I think we woke up at 8 or 9 in the morning and it was already towards the top in all genres.
Hubbard: That's always encouraging. Even if you have a feeling that something's gonna be big in country, it's even more gratifying when you see it in an all-genre category.
"Dirt" is the first single from your upcoming album. What shape is the record in?
Kelley: It's just about done. We'll probably be in the studio a couple more days; it's due a week or two from now. It's exciting, man. I feel like the past month or two we've really turned it on creatively. We were in there yesterday messing with things, adding a new melody here and a breakdown there. That's what this record is all about: making it better and better and better till the last minute.
What are you singing about on it?
Kelley: It's gonna be another party album, but at the same time it's got a lot of different songs on it -- some make you think, some make you feel. It's right where we're at in life.
So tunes about campers with shag carpeting.
Kelley: Good times, man.