Chase Rice was shot out of a cannon with his success as a songwriter on Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” in 2012, but admits it set him on a course of chasing that success instead of finding his own sound. Now, Rice has returned to his authentic self and has created an album that he hopes would make his late father proud.

Released on February 10, I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell is the followup to Rice’s three-part project, The Album, featuring his latest Platinum-certified No. 1 hit, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen. (feat. Florida Georgia Line)” and his Platinum-certified Top 10 hit “Lonely If You Are.” 

Chase Rice; Photo Courtesy of Kaiser Cunningham
Chase Rice; Photo Courtesy of Kaiser Cunningham

The “Eyes on You” singer opened up to Music Mayhem about the pivotal moment that changed how he writes songs, the makeshift home studio he used to record his new album, how he’s finally dealing with the loss of his father through this music, and more.

Rice says that when “Cruise” skyrocketed to the top of the charts, he didn’t know what he was doing. “I was just kind of thrown in the fire. I didn’t even really know how to write songs that well,” admits Rice. “Being a songwriter on that [Cruise], I was like, oh God, I guess this is what I’m good at, so I started chasing that.” He also says you can hear that influence in his Platinum-certified hit “Ready Set Roll.” The guys of Florida Georgia Line were his roommates at the time and Rice says he “was in their shadow” while their career was exploding.

The country hitmaker didn’t know what he wanted to do with his own music, saying “I just knew what I was a fan of at the time.” In addition to FGL, Rice was also influenced by Sam Hunt, whom he loves and respects. “I loved what he was doing, but that’s not me. I still couldn’t figure out what I was great at. But you can kind of hear some of that stuff and, and even songs like ‘Eyes On You’ and stuff, it’s more pop influenced.”

Chase Rice; Photo Courtesy of Kaiser Cunningham
Chase Rice; Photo Courtesy of Kaiser Cunningham

The singer-songwriter has some regrets about how his decisions were influenced by his peers during the early years of his career. “I was following them more than I should have, when I should have been trying to find what I was great at and what I could do myself.”

Rice says that his approach to songwriting before 2020 was wanting to entertain people to keep the energy going during his live shows. “But that got in the way of me writing real songs,” admits Rice. “I didn’t realize deep down, what entertains people is you being yourself, the best songs that you can do that you can write that are you. So I think that handicapped my success for some of those years to be honest.”

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and Rice wasn’t touring, he got back to being himself again. “Hanging out with friends, sitting around a fire, just doing normal life stuff that you don’t get to do when you’re on the road,” Rice reminisces. He admits that he was worried. “I was like, man, am I even gonna write songs anymore? Like, do I wanna do this anymore?“ That all changed one night when he sat on his couch and pulled out his guitar to write. 

“I hadn’t written a song, just me and a guitar, in years cause it was all track-based and I was just writing the tracks. And then that night I wrote “If I Were Rock & Roll,’ which is the first song that I wrote off this record,” says Rice.

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In November 2022, on what would’ve been his parents’ 43rd wedding anniversary, Rice took to Instagram to announce his album I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell.

“For 10 years I’ve put out glimpses of who I truly am in my music, but I’ve never been able to piece it all together. I was chasin’ whatever bullshit thing I thought I was supposed to be doing at the time. I’m done with that. February I’m putting out my first full album since 2017, and this one wrecked me. I finally deal with the loss of my dad in this music, and this is an album I know he would be proud of. I wouldn’t use his picture for the cover if I didn’t fully believe in these songs. Today would have been my parents 43rd wedding anniversary, so mom I love you, and dad, this one’s for you. Chase”

Writing “If I Were Rock & Roll” was a pivotal moment for Rice. “Not only did I just write a song, I wrote a song that I really genuinely care about. And that shifted to me writing the entire record, which is me and a guitar. And I wrote it right there in my living room and I ended up recording the entire album right there in my living room. We turned my house into a studio.”

Rice jokingly called his makeshift home studio a “shit show,” with cables running everywhere. The drums, guitars, and piano were set up in the living room while producer Oscar Charles and engineer Jordan Rigby were in Rice’s “bar room” around the wall from the instruments, and Rice was in his “gun room.” The silver lining to the chaos was that they were able to record throughout the night. “It allowed us to work till three, four in the morning and then we’d go pass out in our beds, which were right there.” Rice revealed that they also filmed footage of the recording process. “We’re gonna come out with a little documentary that shows about the scenes of how this record, this album was recorded in sequence of the songs that it was recorded in.”

Chase Rice; Photo Courtesy of Kaiser Cunningham
Chase Rice; Photo Courtesy of Kaiser Cunningham

The lead single from I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell is “Way Down Yonder,” which Rice says he struggled with the way it sounded when he first recorded it. Originally, it was Rice strumming on the guitar, which he says sounded too much like other songs with the way he would strum. His producer was open to change, so they brought in a different guitar player, who delivered a unique sound. “That’s where you get that carnival sounding acoustic pick and guitar in the beginning of the song and throughout the song,” says Rice. “I didn’t want anything on this album to sound like the same old thing. And it did. And then when he did that part, it really brought the song to life.”

For the music video, Rice stepped into the world of vintage Western movies with a one-take performance. “I’ve loved the west, I loved the cowboy way of life my entire life,” says Rice, who grew up watching John Wayne movies. “To get to dress up that way, it was fun to be honest. It was just, you got to let loose, you got to play a different character in your own mind.” He says they did it 13 to 14 times before finally nailing it on the last one, resulting in the one-take video.

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Half of the album’s title came from the track “I Hate Cowboys,” which Rice originally heard while in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with Jake Owen.

“We were on a fishing trip and he played a bunch of stuff on the boat that day and he played ‘I Hate Cowboys’ and it was the Hardy demo.” Owen told Rice that Dierks Bentley had already cut it but didn’t put it on, and that Owen wasn’t going to cut it either. Rice jumped on the chance to record it. Once everything was cleared and he got the song, he talked to Hardy about making some changes. “I said, hey man, I just don’t feel like the song’s done yet. I feel like we need, there’s something in the outro that’s missing, especially for the track that we’re considering doing, which sounds completely different than his demo. His demo sounds like a Nashville demo, just standard. And then Oscar wanted to put the nylon and make it sound a little more old and western.”

Rice is grateful that they added him to the song, admitting “they did the heavy work on that one.” It was the only song on the entire album that Rice didn’t start, but says “it’s one of the coolest songs on the whole record.”

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Rice’s late father Daniel appears on the album’s cover art, in a photograph wearing a cowboy hat and long-sleeved plaid shirt with a vest, holding two Coors beers.

After years of avoiding the grieving process, Rice says he “couldn’t run from it anymore.” Once he changed his approach to writing with just him and his guitar, the emotions started pouring out. “You’re not just trying to write a bunch of songs to play on radio or just anything that you think might be popular. You’re actually writing songs from the heart.”

Although there are not a lot of songs specifically about his dad on the album, Rice says it’s a tribute to him. “There was just something about the way that I put this album together and wrote it that just felt like it honored him somehow.” The physical version of the album concludes with a hidden track, “For a Day,” which was recorded in one take with just Rice and his guitar in his living room. “It was the cherry on top to make an album that my dad would be proud of.”

“It couldn’t be more perfect,” says Rice of the album artwork. “‘I Hate Cowboys’ on the front, which my dad was one of the best cowboys I’ve ever known. And then on the back is my dog Jack and that represents ‘All Dogs Go To Hell,’ which is clearly just a web of lies.” When coming up with the album’s title, it started as a joke. “Nobody names a record that,” he laughed. But once he saw it written out, he thought it was perfect. “It just was the almost the mantra of the entire album and it just fit perfectly, not only with the music, but with the visuals of my dad and Jack.”

One of the most powerful songs on the album is “Bench Seat,” which Rice says is a true story about a friend who almost attempted suicide. “He didn’t, because his dog put his head on his leg” right before he almost made that fatal decision. “Thank God he didn’t do that,” says Rice of his friend, who inspired “Bench Seat.”

About a year and a half ago, that friend came to visit him and suggested writing a song about driving around in his truck with his dog. “I think he was serious, but in my mind I took it as a joke, just cause that’s the most cliché country song ever. And then three days later I ended up writing it and it’s a song about a dog basically that saves a guy’s life, but also the guy saved the dog’s life.” Rice wrote the track by himself in about seven to eight hours and even wrote it with the music video in mind. “I never write music videos, period, much less while I’m writing the song. But this one I did.”  

Rice also scored a new best friend as a result of the song – his dog, Jack. “I decided, all right, well if I’m gonna have a dog, which I’m gonna need three for this video cause of the timeline, length of this person’s life in it, then the puppy’s gonna be mine.” He’d never had a dog before, but decided it was the perfect time to get one. “So I went and got Jack and that’s how he came to my life. And he was gonna be the puppy originally in the video.” A year and a half passed before he shot the music video, so Jack ended up being the main dog.

The “Bench Seat” music video brings the powerful story to life in the most gut-wrenching way, but Rice hopes that it gives people hope. “I’m really just trying to bring a lot of awareness to mental health, depression, suicide, self-harm. These people just need to know that’s not the only option.” He added, “It tells a story that I think is gonna be incredibly powerful for a lot of people.”

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Rice is hitting the road this spring with the Way Down Yonder Tour, which kicks off on March 3 in Laughlin, Nev. and wraps up on July 1 in Webster, Mass. Rice will be bringing along several acts who will open for him on different dates, including Conner Smith, Tyler Braden, Ashland Craft, Dalton Dover, Avery Anna, Kameron Marlowe, and Read Southall Band. For complete dates and ticket info, visit www.chaserice.com 

“This is a different time in my life, a different time in my career where I’m obviously certainly gonna play the hits,” says Rice, who plans to play “Ready Set Roll,” “Eyes On You” and “probably an acoustic version of Cruise.” Outside of the hits, Rice is going to perform all of I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell on this tour. “I’m excited to finally play a whole record right when it comes out, promote the hell out of that through singing these songs that I love.”

Chase Rice I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell Album Art
Chase Rice I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell Album Art

I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell Track List

1. Walk That Easy (Chase Rice, William Reames, Barton Davies, Jonathan Sherwood, Oscar Charles)

2.  All Dogs Go To Hell (Chase Rice, Joshua Miller, John Byron)

3. Way Down Yonder (Chase Rice, Hunter Phelps, John Byron, Blake Pendergrass, Corey Crowder)

4. Key West & Colorado (Chase Rice, Brian Kelley, Corey Crowder, Blake Pendergrass, John Byron, Hunter Phelps)

5. Bench Seat (Chase Rice)

6. Life Part Of Livin’ (Chase Rice)

7. Bad Day To Be A Cold Beer (Chase Rice, Blake Pendergrass, John Byron, Justin Thomas)

8. Oklahoma feat. Read Southall Band (Chase Rice, William Reames, Barton Davies, Jonathan Sherwood, Oscar Charles, Read Southall)

9. I Walk Alone (Chase Rice, Jaxson Free, Josh Hoge)

10. Sorry Momma (Chase Rice, Hunter Phelps, Ben Johnson)

11. If I Were Rock & Roll (Album Version) (Chase Rice)

12. Goodnight Nancy feat. Boy Named Banjo (Chase Rice, Oscar Charles, Barton Davies, William Reames, Jonathan Sherwood)

13. I Hate Cowboys (Chase Rice, Michael Hardy, Ross Copperman, Brad Tursi)

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Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Nicole has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.

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