While the 28-year-old rising country star may have made the biggest catch of his life when he reeled in a successful career in the music industry, Combs took a necessary break from the stage to jet off to Los Barriles, Mexico for a fishing trip with some of his boys to kick off his new partnership with Columbia Sportswear.
“It’s hard to find somewhere like the Baja. There’s no commercialization there, which is not really something you can find almost anywhere in the world,” he tells PEOPLE about the trip captured in a video titled “This One’s For My Crew.”
“I just got done traveling through Europe, Australia, Singapore and everywhere. It’s just flush with advertising and constant visual stimuli, and I think it was really cool to go somewhere that’s just like very quaint,” he continues. “There weren’t a lot of distractions from reflecting on everything that I’ve been able to do in the last two years. It was really my first chance to do that.”
Though the collaboration may be new, it couldn’t have been more organic. He’s been sporting the brand since high school and has incorporated some of the signature pieces into his everyday look, both on and off stage.
“I was talking to one of the research guys today and he’s like, ‘Why do you still wear the Bahama II? That’s, like, the dinosaur.’ But, for me, it was my version of the classic muscle cars,” says Combs. “I wear one every night on stage, and I think anyone in the show can tell you that.”
- Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
“There’s also one hanging in the Country Music Hall of Fame right now, which is really awesome,” he continues. “They have an exhibit right now called ‘American Currents: The Music of 2017,’ where they pair new artists of today with artists who have paved the way for them to be where they’re at. So I have the Columbia PFG that I wore in the ‘Hurricane’ music video paired up with the outfit that Eric Church wore in the ‘Springsteen’ music video.”
But clothing choices aren’t the only memories Combs holds near and dear from his high school years. The “When it Rains It Pours” singer also attended school with country star Chase Rice, who happened to give him some of the best advice that he’s held close to his heart.
“I thought it was really cool that a guy from my high school found success in the music business,” he says. “Before I started even playing guitar, I was meddling around with the thought of maybe giving it a shot, [so] I reached out to him and said, ‘Hey man, I’m a big fan…what do you write about? How do you write songs? What do you do?'”
While his answer wasn’t quite the guidance Combs was hoping for at the time, Rice’s words of wisdom ended up helping Combs grow into the strong songwriter he is today.
“At the time, I was pretty upset with his answer because I felt like he was brushing me off, but since then I’ve realized [the message],” says Combs. “He said, ‘Just write about what you know about.’ I thought it was a really short answer, but as I’ve gotten into this job, and knowing how busy it is, I’ve appreciated his answer more and more over time because that really is the best advice you could give someone.”
RELATED: Chase Rice Performs His Debut Single, “Ready Set Roll”
“Write what you want to write, write what people want to hear, and write about what they’re going through, because if you could connect with the people who are listening to your music and coming to your concerts and coming to your meet and greets, then you’re doing your job well,” he adds.
Drawing inspiration from “anything and everything,” Combs has been sitting on heaps of new music, which will be released on June 1 via a deluxe edition of his gold-certified debut album This One’s for You to celebrate its one-year anniversary.
The album will feature 17 songs, including the 12 originals from his debut album and five new tracks: “Houston, We Got a Problem,” “A Long Way,” “Must’ve Never Met You,” “Beautiful Crazy,” and “She Got the Best of Me.”
Hot off his iHeartRadio Music Awards win for new country artist of the year and nominated for two Billboard Music Awards for top country artist and top album, 2018 has been a “whirlwind” for the singer.
“We’re going on tour with Jason [Aldean], this deluxe record is coming out, I got a gold record, two platinum singles, an iHeartRadio Music Award, two Billboard Award nominations, ACM nominations, CMA nominations,” says Combs.
“It’s just been hard to believe that it’s only been 12 months since my first award show, which was this week last year, so all of those things have happened in a matter of 12 months and there’s a hundred more things that I’m forgetting,” he continues. “I’m thankful for all of that stuff, but I’m just a regular dude who happens to have a really cool job.”