Just days before speaking to Chase Rice he was announced to perform at the 2019 Country to Country Music Festival.

I chat with him at The Ruby Lounge, where he is headlining on his return to Manchester.  It’s a city where he has enjoyed success on previous tours.  He’s laid back and casual in the dressing room, strumming away on his guitar, practising a piece he had a hiccup with the night before.  And the Q&A follows a late night for the North Carolina born singer songwriter who stayed up in the early hours to catch his beloved Red Sox playing.

“Bring the guys and let’s have some fun”

You’ve just been announced to perform at Country to Country.  How did that come about?

“I don’t know!  I just know we’re coming! All I really care about is like we’re bringing. Acoustics gigs are great, but we’ve done it twice now, fuck that. Bring the guys and let’s have some fun.”

Have you been bursting to tell people that you’ll be performing at C2C?

“We’ve been so busy. Not really, I just kind of take it in, plus it’s in March so it’s a ways off. For us, I still have an entire tour to do with the band so it’s a ways off, but I’m excited. This, being back here is getting me excited to come and do the UK thing. You’re so focused on what you’re doing at the time and now seeing these people and how passionate they are about music again, close up it’s like, “Oh fuck. It’s going to be even better when we come through in March”.”

You spend a lot of time on the road, how do you keep going?

“I just to try to stay healthy when I can, I work out everyday if I can, I try to eat healthy. Then you try to be home as much as possible. If you have two days stress, go home. Get your time home, because if you stay out too long, you start feeling it pretty quick.”

“What the hell was that? I expected a country show and I come and I see that?”

How do you prepare for live performances?

“Acoustic, I don’t really do anything. I don’t plan anything. That’s cool because I just wing it. With the band it’s different. We have it planned out for the most part, we do some stuff. I’ll change it up here and there just for fun, but it’s a rock show. I want people leaving the show knowing that they have to come back and see it again or even wondering, “What the hell was that? I expected a country show and I come and I see that? That was one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen.” That’s what I want coming out of their mouth. You got to come see it to really see what it’s all about.”

What’s going through your mind whilst you’re on stage?

“I don’t know. Have fun!  That’s about it. I just like to go out there and have a good time because if I’m having fun you will too. I’ve never been asked that question. It’s a good question though.  I’ve never thought about that before!”

How do you decide on your set list?

“A lot of the same songs obviously. I just play a lot of favorite songs the we know people want to hear, then I’ll try to throw in a few songs here and there that they weren’t expecting to hear like Carolina Can which is on the last record which is about North Carolina. It’s like, why would people care about North Carolina over in Manchester,  but they do and that’s why it’s cool for me to be able to play something like that.”

“If I’m trying too much and doing too much I get burned out”

Do you get much of a chance to write whilst you’re on the road?

“I have the time to, I just don’t do it. It’s like when I’m on the road I like to relax during the day, go see stuff I’ve never seen before. I don’t write on the road, it’s not my thing. I keep that at home and I keep that for certain times of the year. If I’m trying too much and doing too much I get burned out, so I do that when I’m off.”

What’s your approach to writing?

“It’s different every time. Sometimes you got a melody, sometimes you just got lyrics, so you try to find the right melody with those lyrics, depending on the day. It’s totally different every single time for me.”

Will you be putting any more dates around C2C as well? Are you planning to do any more UK shows?

“I hope so. I know we’re doing the three. We may do a few more. I’m sure we will. We’re already up here, why not do a few more.”