The Untold Truth Of Florida Georgia Line

The country duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley from Nashville, Tenn. make up the band Florida Georgia Line. After the two guys cruised into the music scene with their smash hit, "Cruise," in 2012, you could not escape their crossover single with Bebe Rexha, "Meant to Be," from 2017 to 2018. According to the band's website, the eight-times-platinum song spent an amazing 50 straight weeks on top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, which, as of this writing, is still by far the longest streak. "Meant to Be" earned the duo their first Grammy nomination, and Florida Georgia line became the "first Country act to achieve RIAA's DIAMOND certification (10 million copies sold)."

Apart from writing mega hits, Hubbard and Kelley keep busy outside of music, too. The duo continues to grow their empire including a publishing company and record label. "We're just getting started," Kelley told Esquire. From running other companies to spending time with family, it seems that downtime is a luxury for these two. The guys even plan to join Kenny Chesney and Old Dominion on the U.S. leg of the Chillaxification Tour in 2021 after the original 2020 dates were canceled (via Billboard). Simply put, Florida Georgia Line started from the bottom and worked its way to the top.

Are you team T-Hubb or BK? Head 'em up, move 'em out — 'cause it's time for the untold truth of Florida Georgia Line.

How Florida Georgia Line first met

While Brian Kelley grew up in Ormond Beach, Fla., and Tyler Hubbard in Monroe, Ga., the two came from similar backgrounds. Both Baptists, the guys enjoyed typical southern hobbies like fishing and listening to Garth Brooks — as well as some atypical southern hobbies, like listening to rappers like Eminem. By 2008, they finally met at Belmont University in Nashville. Recalling his first memory of Hubbard, Kelley told Billboard, "[He was driving his pickup truck] windows down, blowing diesel smoke, listening to Lil Wayne. And I was like, man, that's how I grew up."

At school, Hubbard and Kelley knew each other from campus worship. Kelley, who was a star high school athlete, said he skipped baseball practice one day to go watch Hubbard play a musical showcase. From there, the classmates started to make music. "The first time we ever wrote together, we were finishing each other's sentences," Kelley said. "No record label, no one other than the man upstairs, can put something like that together."

So the story goes, Hubbard and Kelley met up at McDonald's toward the end of their studies to hatch a plan for the future, and "decided to give themselves two years to make it as a duo," while making money any way possible. "We knew when it was time for a record deal, they would come running to us," Hubbard said. Boy, was he right.

Just two normal guys

Back in the aughts, two "average Joes" named Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley had big dreams of making it in the music industry. Well, them and just about every other aspiring musician in Nashville. While things thankfully worked out for the best, they didn't necessarily have it easy before reveling in the bright city lights and fame. 

In an interview for Taste of Country, the boys from Florida Georgia Line reflected on the difficult times early on, including days when Hubbard and Kelley had almost no money in their wallets. But sometimes all it takes is a twinkle in the eye to pursue an almost impossible dream. Sure, the pair enjoyed writing and performing music, but Hubbard admitted, "We were having to figure out how to pay the bills on top of that." He elaborated that to make ends meet, "We were building bathroom stalls and building golf carts and cutting grass and washing cars — whatever we could do to still have time to have a couple of days to write." 

As tough as it must have been, Hubbard and Kelley kept on pushing toward their goals. As Hubbard perfectly summarized, he and his music partner in crime "[stayed] true to what we believed in and what we wanted to do, instead of just going and getting a 'real job' that would take up all our time."

Florida Georgia Line needed a fresh start

In 2011, Big Loud Management signed a pair of up-and-comers in the country music scene, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley. As Florida Georgia Line, the pair went on to produce numerous hits for the remainder of the decade. However, it seemed like Hubbard and Kelley needed a change when the duo decided to leave Big Loud in early 2020. In their words, "As we continue to evolve, so do our needs and our team" (via Billboard). The next destination? Full Stop Management. Florida Georgia Line actually joined as the first country music act in the group's portfolio. Hubbard and Kelley stated that they were excited to "enter the next chapter of our careers, and welcome a new family into our world with open arms." 

This is a group hug we would like to see, considering Full Stop Management counts the likes of Lizzo, Harry Styles, and Nicki Minaj as some of its most famous clients — no big deal. Luckily, the Big Loud departure created no hard feelings, as several members from the Big Loud Management team told Billboard, "We're really proud of almost a decade full of record-breaking success with the two young kids we met in 2011." Time will tell if the move pays off.

Florida Georgia Line's expanding creative empire

Despite Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard working their tails off to make it in the music scene, the guys didn't stop working once the hits started climbing up the charts. As described on the Florida Georgia Line website, the duo have since expanded their empire and run the following business projects: FGL HOUSE, meet + greet, Tribe Kelley, Tree Vibez Music," as well as their own label, Round Here Records. 

The Nashville Meet + Greet compound is "a combination of retail, creative and business space," including the Tribe Kelley fashion line, headquarters of Tree Vibez Music, and an "inspired new private meeting/event space concept called Meet + Greet." Meanwhile, FGL House is a combination bar, restaurant, and live music venue where you can bet Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey is served. Yup, Kelley and Hubbard worked with a third-party consulting firm to develop their own special liquor in 2018. "We wanted to create something different and fresh and, at the end of the day, something we could be proud of that our friends would like, that would translate well at the bar," Kelley told Thrillist. After experimenting and tasting many flavors, the two stayed true to their heritage by adding "a little bit of Florida and Georgia with the peach and the pecan."

Sticking with the booze theme, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line announced a joint collaboration in Wolf Moon Bourbon two years later. These guys may just stock your entire local bar soon.

Hotter than hot live shows

What, did you expect these two country party boys to only play acoustic sets? Florida Georgia Line is known for its high energy shows — part of the reason for the continued success of the band. "That's in our DNA — we want to play big venues," Brian Kelley told Esquire. He and Tyler Hubbard certainly built a reputation for wild live shows. In a 2019 interview with CBS DFW, the guys talked about touring with fellow country superstar Jason Aldean.

"Is there gonna be flames and fire?" the interviewer asked, and without skipping a beat, Kelley replied, "Oh yeah." Hubbard added, "Have you ever seen a Florida Georgia Line show or an Aldean show?" Proclaiming the trio as "Pyro Kings," Hubbard finished with the promise, "We're bringing all the flames and all the fire." Anything else? "And all the sparklers." Well, okay then — color us convinced!

At the time of the collaborative release of Kelley, Hubbard, and Aldean's Wolf Moon Bourbon, the latter talked about his time spent on the road with Florida Georgia Line. In a press release, Aldean said, "There's nothing like sharing a glass of whiskey with my crew after a show — you could say it's been part of our ritual for years. Tyler and Brian have been a part of that ritual and we wanted to create something to remind us of our favorite memories." Maybe he forgot to mention all the pyrotechnics throughout the years, but we like to think it's implied.

How to make a smash hit ... twice

The first big song to put Florida Georgia Line in the country music big leagues was 2012's "Cruise." Speaking with Taste of Country, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard talked a bit about their creative process in making the song. Kelley admitted, "That song came out of another writing session in the middle of another song." Claiming a bit of good luck on "Cruise," he said, "I think we kind of have to thank the Songwriting Gods for that one." According to Billboard, "[The song] topped the Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for twenty-four weeks in 2012, breaking a record that had stood for close to sixty years."

Not to be outdone, Florida Georgia Line teamed up with music artist Bebe Rexha to create one of the most memorable songs of the decade with 2017's "Meant to Be." But before making the song, neither party really knew about the other. While speaking with Billboard, Hubbard said he and Kelley had never met Rexha before. "Apparently she didn't even know we were writing," he noted, saying, "She just thought we were hanging out." 

It turns a conversation between Hubbard and his wife, Haley, inspired the unbelievably catchy hook from the song. Apparently, as Hubbard worried over the writing session with Rexha, his wife told him, "Don't stress about it. If it's meant to be, it'll be." Several hours in the studio later, the trio finished the popular song and eventually broke their previous Billboard record.

Florida Georgia Line's collaborative spirit

Florida Georgia Line's famous "Meant to Be" collaboration with Bebe Rexha wasn't the band's only collab. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard actually got an assist from rapper Nelly to help shift their song "Cruise" into the pop arena with a remix, which became one of the best songs of the decade according to Rolling Stone. Kelley told Vice the remix really helped Florida Georgia Line's popularity grow, saying that fans would tell them, "I didn't like country music until you guys." 

Continuing with the pop theme, the guys later worked with Jason Derulo on the song "Women." In an interview for The Boot, Hubbard said Florida Georgia Line and Derulo enjoyed making music together: "There's a brotherhood and a bond there — a friendship that kind of breeds creativity. We're 100-percent comfortable with each other." To top that collab off, in 2020, Justin Bieber recruited the guys for a remix of the song "Yummy."

So, what's next for Hubbard and Kelley? In support of their fourth album, Can't Say I Ain't Country, the duo talked about dream collaborations in the future with Taste of Country. "We've got a lot of respect for Bruno Mars. That'd be straight fire!" Hubbard admitted, adding, "Someone like Lil Wayne would be cool too." Kelley also had his wish list for a favorite artist to work with: Justin Timberlake. Since Florida Georgia Line already teamed up with the Backstreet Boys more than once, why not work with another piece of boy band history?

Florida Georgia Line went from a couple of bros...

On the way to the top, haters often follow and it's hard to skate by with no criticism. The biggest knocks against Florida Georgia Line have been the band's image and song content. In an article for Vulture, Jody Rosen used the term "bro-country" to describe the duo. His definition? "Music by and of the tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude." Rosen even suggested the song "Cruise" was "the moment when the balance of power tipped from an older generation of male country stars to the bros."

Similarly, a Billboard cover story talked about Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley making music that certain people felt portrayed "Southern life as a series of drunk, horny Saturday nights." In a case of perhaps not-so-clever songwriting, the media outlet noted that on three consecutive albums, the guys wrote lyrics that rhyme "party" with "Bacardi." Even more, "Of the 12 songs on Anything Goes, two mention Friday, and three mention Saturday. Four mention whiskey, three include beer brands, and 10 use the word "night.'" 

Even the CEO of the band's former label Big Machine — Scott Borchetta — admitted that Florida Georgia Line ruled a unique genre: "We don't use the term 'bro country,' but they do it better than anyone."

...to family men

Though Florida Georgia Line may never lose its admiration for parties, this duo has started to settle into a more relaxed family life. In 2019, Tyler Hubbard and wife Haley welcomed their second child, which left them with the joyous but time-consuming task of caring for two kiddos under two years old. "It's definitely an adjustment, but we're rocking and rolling. Hayley's a good teammate and I do what I can," Hubbard told People, before confessing, "I'm ... not helpless, but I'm not the one making the milk, so I'll change a diaper here and there." 2020 was a bit more mellow, and the family went on a family trip to Kenya. To surprise Hubbard, Hayley used an elephant for the gender reveal of their third child, People reported.

Meanwhile, Brian Kelley talked with Big Machine Label Group about his family goals in 2019. Though he and his wife, Brittany, had five dogs at home, the singer revealed he would want kids in the future: "It's definitely in the cards at some point ... I think it just comes down to when the good Lord is gonna make it happen."

In a shout-out to the special women around them, Florida Georgia Line wrote the aptly-titled song, "Women," with the help of Jason Derulo. While speaking with Taste of Country, the country duo noted that in addition to their moms and wives, "A lot of our team is women and we really just love and respect the women in our life."

Elementary discussions with Florida Georgia Line

During a 2019 talk with CBS DFW, Brian Kelley had the unenviable task of answering this random question: "Do you pick your nose in the car or what do you do with the booger?" In a very calm and detailed response, Kelley said, "There's no reason to pick your nose unless you have to, okay? And if you have a situation that needs taken care of ... You just need to get it, take care of it, and throw it out the window." 

Kelley then summarized his expert strategy, explaining, "That's why you carry hand sanitizer in your car, and maybe a hanky, and maybe some extra napkins — so everything's taken care of. It's not gross, it's just kind of planned for." However, the singer was quick to note that this situation is not that common and he only uses his skills "if need be ... I don't go doing it just down the county road."

How did he learn all this? "I'm a professional traveler." But when the interviewer and bandmate Tyler Hubbard pressed even further about those sticky situations, Kelley said, "Worse comes to worse, pull over, snot rocket, take care of it." Who knows, maybe Florida Georgia Line can teach a masterclass on this subject in the future.

Who is Florida Georgia Line's pal, Brother Jervel?

Have you wondered who that random guy is from Florida Georgia Line's fourth album, Can't Say I Ain't Country? You know, the one who leaves voice messages on all the skit interludes? Well, he goes by Brother Jervel or Nugget, but his real name is Chris. In an interview with Amazon Prime Insider, Tyler Hubbard talked about how he ended up on the record: "When we heard his voice, we knew this had to be a part of the album."

"He's an old buddy of Tyler and I's from hanging out when Tyler and I met," Brian Kelley told Taste of Country, adding that even with Florida Georgia Line touring so often, Chris continued to stay in touch and "would leave these crazy voicemails on Tyler's voicemail as Brother Jervel." While Hubbard apparently told Brother Jervel that he wouldn't pick up the phone on purpose since he loved the messages so much, Kelley said that when it came time to release the album, "We were just thinking, let's add some character, let's show some personality some more and let him do his thing and intro the songs."

How much do these Florida Georgia Line cowboys make?

A lot has changed since the early days of Florida Georgia Line, back when Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley played clubs near Nashville while "putting expenses on their personal credit cards, 'showering' with baby wipes and sleeping six or seven to a hotel room" (via Billboard). In 2019, Yahoo! Finance reported that Florida Georgia Line's collective net worth was a reported (and equally distributed) $50 million, putting the band 20th on its list of the "30 Richest Country Music Stars."

The article went on to note the different ways Kelley and Hubbard have earned all that dough: "Although the pair makes most of their money through concert tours, they also enjoy lucrative endorsement deals with Nitto Tires and Advance Auto Parts." This, of course, is in addition to those numerous side businesses the pair are involved with, like two liquor brands and their own record label. 

If that's not all, Billboard ranked the duo as #21 in the highest-paid musicians of 2019 thanks to healthy streaming numbers. Florida Georgia Line reportedly "generated nearly 20% of its revenue from its recorded-music catalog, amassing an impressive 2.1 billion combined streams." Plus, the guys "played for more than 750,000 fans, making it the year's second most popular country tour," according to CMT.

With their fifth studio album set to drop sometime in 2020, it appears it was "meant to be" for Florida Georgia Line to churn out hits and make a lot of money.

A busy 2020 for Florida Georgia Line

Amidst the complicated world affairs in 2020, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley used their time to focus on self-improvement. "We decided it was time to freshen up our sound," Hubbard told Esquire. "It rebirthed the fun in making music," he explained, adding, "We can't wait to get to work every day." This rejuvenated attitude led to the release of the 6-Pack EP including the hard-hitting "I Love My Country" and summer single "Long Live," via the official Florida Georgia Line website.

With tours and other events postponed, the Hubbard and Kelley found creative ways to continue to engage with fans. Aimed at the younger set of fans, Florida Georgia Line launched a TikTok challenge for the song "I Love My Country." With the help from popular TikTok personalities like BabyAriel and ImTheJay, the guys started the #FGLCountryChallenge "to encourage fans to let loose (while respecting current safety guidelines)," per the band's website. The group compiled the best videos by fans to create a "montage of hilarious, adrenaline-pumping reasons why they love their country lifestyle."

Without live shows as an option, Hubbard and Kelley still wanted to get the band together and play songs for everyone. The men grabbed their cameras, Go-Pros, and invited a few close musician friends to put together an at-home concert, CMT reported. As for FGL's fifth studio album? As the band said in a post, fans can expect it at the end of 2020.