Chase Rice Peels Back the Layers on New Album: 'It Took Me 10 Years to Figure Out What I Really Want to Do'

"I'm not a fan of the 'no regrets' thing. I just don't think that's possible," the country star says. "I'm a huge fan of redemption and changing your life because of those regrets"

Chase Rice
Chase Rice. Photo: Kaiser Cunningham

It was February of 2022 when Chase Rice sat down at a single microphone to record the final song for a new album that would, in part, pay tribute to his late father.

"We had already gone through so many different emotions," reflects Rice, 37, about "For a Day," which now serves as a hidden track on the physical CD/vinyl versions of his new album I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go to Hell. "It was the final night of recording. The record was done. And in a way, that song was the exclamation point in the softest, most vulnerable way."

And in that room and in that moment, Rice says he felt his dad's presence.

"I felt him on the whole record," Rice says of his late father Daniel Rice, who died of a massive heart attack when Rice was just 22 years old. "I think he'd look at my career and he wouldn't be disappointed in me." He pauses. "My dad would know that there was a time when I was finding myself. He would know there was a time I was a bit lost, but hell, he was a big reason why I was lost."

Chase Rice
Chase Rice. Kaiser Cunningham

Indeed, Rice would be the first to admit that there has been many a year since his father's death that he was simply not living his most authentic life.

"I got into party mode when I moved to Nashville," says Rice, who famously crashed on the couch of Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley during his early days in Music City. "It was that era of music. I just went along with it. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what not to do. I would just kind of go along with the flow."

Nevertheless, that flow led Rice on quite the country music journey. First serving as one of the co-writers on FGL's history-making song "Cruise," Rice broke out as a solo artist with earworms such as "Gonna Wanna Tonight" and the platinum-certified "Ready Set Roll." He would follow it up with an impressive string of hits such as "Eyes on You," "Lonely If You Are" and the chart-topper "Drinkin' Beer. Talkin' God. Amen" with FGL.

"It took me 10 years to figure out what I really want to do and what I want to say and how I want to say it," Rice says with a laugh. "I'm not a fan of the 'no regrets' thing. I just don't think that's possible. I'm a huge fan of redemption and changing your life because of those regrets."

And that's where Rice says he's at right now.

"I'm just trying to hammer down on who I am," Rice explains. "There's actually a lot of regrets I've had over the last 10 years. And this is my way of saying sorry."

This apology can be heard all over the song "Life Part of Livin'."

"One of my favorite lines in the song is, 'I've played my songs and played my part, played it wrong and played some hearts," says Rice of the song he solely wrote for I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go to Hell. "I feel like, in my last 10 years, I've done so many s---ty things, but I didn't mean to be that way." He pauses. "That song for me is a very emotional one."

Indeed, intermixed with the customary party songs such as "Bad Day to Be a Cold Beer" and "If I Were Rock & Roll" are several songs that contain their fair share of emotions, including a heartbreaker called "Bench Seat."

"I had the whole music video in my head the whole time, which helped me write the song," says Rice. "It started with just conversations with my best buddy from college. He was in a bad way. I'd been in that bad way before. I still go through it sometimes."

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Produced by Oscar Charles and recorded at Rice's farm outside of Nashville, I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go to Hell did go through its share of challenges. "Cold Beer" fell into a cliché that Rice wanted to avoid, so he fought against it. "Way Down Yonder" always seemed to be missing a sound Rice could never quite put his finger on.

But the country music truthteller persevered.

"The theme of this album, with the recording of it, was that I didn't want to do the same old s---," says Rice, who will head out on his Way Down Yonder Tour next month. "If it sounded like the same old s---, we're going to get away from it. I think we did that with every song."

Today, Rice finds himself in his most authentic chapter, a man who finds himself looking at his past with forgiveness and to his future with anticipation.

"I'm really enjoying this chapter of my career a lot more," he concludes. "I feel like through family and friends and taking a step away from music, that's where I found myself when I was writing this record."

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