CMC Rocks’ Chase Rice On Country’s Boom: ‘Artists Are Getting The Power’

“The artists are getting the power, and the labels are losing the power… There’s ways for artists to get out so much music without the need for a major label. That, to me, is the coolest thing.”

Chase Rice

Chase Rice (Credit: Kaiser Cunningham)

Riding the wave of his sixth studio album, released in 2023, Chase Rice is still soaking in the good vibes and feeling pretty damn stoked about it. He’s in a great place, career-wise and within himself, and this radiates through his latest record, I Hate Cowboys And All Dogs Go To Hell.

With CMC Rocks merely days away, marking Chase’s third visit to Australia, he is overjoyed at the idea of getting to play his newer tracks for his fans down under. It’s clear that he’s found his sweet spot, and he’s relishing it- rightfully so.

Far more stripped back than his previous albums, I Hate Cowboys And All Dogs Go To Hell is nothing but good, honest country music.

When asked how he’s feeling about the album now that it’s been out in the world for nearly a year, Rice says, “It’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in my career; I don’t know how to feel about it. It’s the least mainstream album I’ve ever put out, it’s the least mainstream success that I’ve had… but ticket sales are the best they’ve ever been!”

Previously, Rice’s records were much more in tune with the ‘bro-country’ era, as he himself refers to it.

A mixture of pop and country with a sprinkle of autotune thrown in, there is definitely nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of bro-country, but die-hard country fans will certainly tell you otherwise.

“I was in that debate a bunch when the bro-country movement was happening. It’s a wild experience because there’s so much hate for a group called Florida Georgia Line, who are selling out stadiums. [Country music] is at a completely different place to where it was at ten years ago… music will always evolve.”

“I love the diversity of country music; I love that it’s become such a massive genre. I mean, hell! Look at Beyoncé jumping on it. The thing that I love most about the state of country music, though, is that the artists are starting to get the power.

“Through TikTok, socials, YouTube. The artists are getting the power, and the labels are losing the power… There’s ways for artists to get out so much music without the need for a major label. That, to me, is the coolest thing.”

The cover of Rice’s latest record features an image of his late father, with a killer moustache, cowboy hat, and two cold ones—it’s a candid image that seems as though it was destined to be an album cover.

“He’d be proud of this music, I know that,” Rice says of his father. “He’s up in heaven, so he don’t have a say… I don’t know what he would think about being on the album cover, but I always loved that picture of him… To me, this is the best album I could ever possibly put his picture on.”

Before I even get a chance to ask, Rice drops a hint at his next record, saying, “We’re actually going to do a similar photo with me for this next album. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but it’s kind of going to be an extension of the I Hate Cowboys record, but it’ll be its own record, a full new album.”

It’s evident that Rice stepped far out of his comfort zone recording his latest album, with a massive change in production and sound.

Adding to this, a film crew was present to document the entire process. Rice admits, “I have never let people video stuff before, I’m probably just insecure, and I don’t want people to see me suck… But, this one was easy for me… It was in my house so I just felt like I could be myself. We drank a decent amount making this record, we smoked a good bit making this record and I just had a blast.

“I’ve gotten to a point in my life where it’s like – I am a screwed-up person in so many ways, but it’s okay to show. As long as I always strive to be better on the music and show people who I am. We had fun with it.”

It’s no secret that country music is predominantly American. However, recently, it’s been creeping its way into the Aussie mainstream, with five country tracks on this week’s ARIA Top 50.

“With Australia, it was more pop-leaning all those years ago when I was last down there. I’ve been down there twice now, and we had a great reception; it was huge. I’m glad we’re finally coming back… I have no idea how it’s going to go with this one because my last record is just so different than the last time I was there, but hopefully, it’s a similar reception to what we’ve had in the United States and Canada.”

And we have no doubt that the reception will be a positive one, especially given how much more attention the country genre has been getting in Australia over the last few years.

Recently, Rice has released the video for his latest single, Oklahoma, posting it on Instagram with the caption, “My favourite song off the I Hate Cowboys record”. Featuring Southall, this track is mesmerisingly beautiful and has one of my favourite moments on the entire record – a four-and-a-half-minute instrumental that will leave you with goosebumps.

As genius as the track feels, it seems that it was a natural occurrence, with Rice explaining, “Oklahoma just feels good. It was the only night session we did on the record… we smoked when we did that one, so you’re feeling a whole different thing going on… it was just one of those songs that wasn’t an effort; we figured it out pretty quick, and we nailed it.

“And then you get to the end, the bass player accidentally keeps playing so we all jump back in with him and just jam for five minutes. That was an accident, but it was a fun accident.”

Kicking off on Friday, 15 March, Chase Rice will be playing the legendary CMC Rocks festival in sunny Queensland. Spanning across three days, the lineup also features Chris Young, Lainey Wilson, Tyler Hubbard, Oliver Anthony and dozens more of your favourites.

Only days away, Rice gives us a taste of what we’re in for only days away, saying, “I wanna add in Fireside, a song off of the next record. I don’t know how we’re going to do that because we haven’t rehearsed it yet, but I wanna add it in if we can. We’ll have to take a few out [of their usual setlist] because we’re only playing sixty-five minutes, but I want to be able to cover a lot of the new record because it’s my favourite stuff, it’s the most believable thing I’ve ever done.

“We’ll still throw in a few like Eyes On YouDrinkin’ Beer. Talking God. Amen, but we do play them very differently to how they’re recorded. It’s the old version of me, heard the new way.”