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On the Verge with country duo Florida Georgia Line

9:43 AM, Oct 14, 2012   |    comments
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by Korina Lopez, USA TODAY
Not just a location: In the last three years, the state line between Florida and Georgia has taken on another meaning. It's also the name of up-and-coming country duo Florida Georgia Line. "I'm from Monroe, Ga., and B.K. (Brian Kelley) is from Ormond Beach, Fla.," says Tyler Hubbard. "But our band name isn't so much a place on the map, but where we come together musically."

Cruising high altitudes: Single Cruise, off upcoming debut album Here's to the Good Times (out Dec. 4), has broken out on USA TODAY's country airplay chart at No. 20 and sold more than 500,000 copies. "The title of the album pretty much sums up the record for us," says Hubbard, 25. "It's about feeling good and having fun." Cruise has become a crowd favorite, reflecting the duo's penchant for melding hip-hop and country. "Our influences are from different genres and from that we make our own sound," says Hubbard. "It's a little pop, a little hip-hop."

"For me, listening to rap opens my mind to a different kind of creation," says Kelley, 27. "I try to write in a new way. So our music is country with rap lyrics."

Eclectic influences: Between the two, Hubbard's and Kelley's tastes hit all over the musical spectrum. "My favorite artist of all time is Garth Brooks," says Kelley. "I also like Jason Aldean and love Wiz Khalifa." The guys dream of a collaboration with Wiz or Lil Wayne. "I'm a big fan of Tim McGraw and Luke Bryan," says Hubbard. "But I also like Lil Wayne and Lynyrd Skynyrd."

Kudos for 'Cruise': Their style has found fans in several high-profile artists, including Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles; all of them tweeted about Cruise. They've also on cable channel CMT's annual fall tour, an indication that they might be heading toward stardom. The tour has seen the beginnings of successful artists like Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley and Urban. "We're opening up for Jake Owen," says Kelley. "He's a great buddy of ours."

Close quarters breeds creativity: The pair met while studying at Nashville's Belmont University and officially became Florida Georgia Line in 2009. "I had a class with Tyler's good buddy, who introduced us. We hit it off musically," says Kelley. "We moved in together so we could write music and played anywhere in Nashville that would have us."

Working here and there: To make ends meet, the pair worked various odd jobs. "We painted houses, washed cars. B.K. put up bathroom stalls for awhile," says Hubbard. "I owned an auto detailing business on the side, too. We cut grass, we did everything."

Good times for them: The duo has been so busy performing lately, they've been finding fun where they can at the venues, but they're outdoorsmen at heart. "We have fun playing music, but we like to go hunting and fishing together," says Hubbard.

Joining the greats: They also just made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry. "That's something we can just check off the bucket list. So many legends have played there," says Kelley. "Our set was over so quick, in the blink of an eye, but we'll remember it for the rest of our lives."

USA TODAY

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