On the verge of releasing his 5th studio album Hey World, due out Friday (Nov. 20), Lee Brice let me know just where he stood on albums: he is and always will be an Album Guy.
When he called to talk about the making of this new batch of music, Brice said that even in an era of singles, he will always be a full album guy instead of a song-by-song guy. Because although he is only 41, he remembers the days when you had to buy the entire album even if you only knew one song. And in doing so, you went deeper and discovered more to love about that collection of music.
CMT.com: It’s been almost exactly three full years since your last album, your self-titled Lee Brice. So why make an album now?
Brice: Why not now? I hope the world doesn’t change so much that I can’t live by this: I will never not make an album. I may make an album and then also put a song out just for hell of it. But I love making music, and making an album is my favorite thing to do. And the songs that aren’t necessarily the ones country radio’s gonna play? Those songs are just as good. That matters to me. I love deep cuts, so I will always make albums.
What is it that an album can do that one or two songs on their own cannot?
How the songs flow and what they all say turned this whole album into my chance to sort of show where I’m at in my life. I have been doing that since my first album Love Like Crazy ten years ago. So this one now shares what I’ve been through. I love to reminisce in songs, but this time it’s about more than looking back. Now I’m a dad — and not just a new dad, but one dealing with stuff with his 12 year old son — but I’m also more mature now. And so an album is kind of like a snapshot of these past couple years that’ve gone by. And you can’t do that in one radio song.
And these days, radio is hardly the only way for fans to hear your songs for the first time. That has to feel kind of freeing for you.
It does. I love today’s format in other ways, because I can be like, “This song isn’t on the radio but it’s a song I want to have on a specific playlist.” I want to have more and more many outlets for every song on the record.
Does Hey World remind you at all of the country albums that you grew up with?
Well, if it was old school times, like Tim McGraw days, I would say this is my A Place in the Sun. That 1999 album with five singles, and most were No. 1s. That was the best record. And I think this is that for me. Or it would be like Garth Brooks’ debut album in 1989. When I had my first Garth cassette tape, I wore it out. Especially on songs like “Alabama Clay” and “The Dance.”
What other country albums did you really, fully listen to from beginning to end?
Here’s an example: there are so many Hank Williams Jr. songs that everyone knows, but I’m the biggest fan of Major Moves from 1984. And the title track — a ballad instead of a rowdy one — said so much to me even as a kid. In fact, a lot of the songs I loved growing up weren’t ones I found on the radio because I didn’t really listen to the radio that much.
I’m sure you’re getting tired of this question, but I have to ask: how on earth do you make a 15-track album in the middle of a pandemic?
About half of it was already done. And then for the rest of it, I had to go back to the old Lee Brice: the kid who learned how to set up his own mics and preamps and run the computer and sing. All at the same time, just sitting at my computer alone. But I loved it. That was very freeing. My demos I’d made on the tour bus had the vibe of the song. And then all the players did their parts at home, and they got the groove, and would send their stuff back to us. So it slowed the process down, but I’m telling you, it allowed me hear one instrument at a time and make sure that it was right before I moved on to the next instrument. It was so cool to hear and to know the parts were right instead of having a big band throwing everything at you at one time and hoping it would all sound good. To be able to hear one instrument at a time made the whole record better.
Brice penned the album’s first single “One of Them Girls” with Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson, and Ben Johnson. And he wrote the second single “Memory I Don’t Mess With” with Brian Davis and Billy Montana.
Full track list for Hey World:
1. “Atta Boy” (Lee Brice, Jaren Johnston, Bobby Pinson
2. “One Of Them Girls” (Brice, Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson, Ben Johnson)
3. “More Beer” (Brice, Adam Wood, Brian Davis)
4. “Memory I Don’t Mess With” (Brice, Davis, Billy Montana)
5. “Save The Roses” (Brice, Joe Leathers, Kyle Jacobs)
6. “Good Ol’ Boys” (Brice, Gorley, Davis, Johnson)
7. “Don’t Need No Reason” (Brice, Jacobs, Chris DeStefano)
8. “Do Not Disturb (Brice, Davis, Jacobs, Phillip Lammonds)
9. “Soul” (Kevin Kadish, Tony Ferrari)
10. “Sons and Daughters” (Brice, Ben Glover, Joe Leathers)
11. “Country Knows” (Lance Miller, Marv Green, Jimmy Yeary)
12. “Lies” (Tom Douglas, Scooter Caruso)
13. “If You” (Brice, Davis, Adam Wood)
14. “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Carly Pearce, Luke Combs, Randy Montana, Jonathan Singleton)
15. “Hey World” feat. Blessings Offor (Brice, Wood, Davidson)
Brice will be doing a virtual Hey World Album Release Experience — via Facebook Live and YouTube on Friday (Nov. 20) @ 7:00 p.m. CT — performing songs off his new album, plus some of his biggest older hits, and sharing the stories behind the songs.