Feature: Lee Brice – The man with the Midas touch
Everything Lee Brice has touched recently has turned to gold, with his last three singles going to No. 1, in addition to recently picking up a CMA Award. Maverick found out his secrets while discussing his new album, ‘Hey World’
As the saying goes, you make your own luck in the world. If you keep plugging away and doing all the right things, eventually things will fall into place for you. To say that Lee Brice would only be benefitting now from doing the hard yards his whole career would be completely false, given the copious amounts of success he’s had, but this moment feels very different. This is very much his time.
Brice’s last three singles – Rumor, I Hope You’re Happy Now with Carly Pearce and One of Them Girls have all hit Number One. Of those three, I Hope You’re Happy Now has just won a CMA Award for Musical Event of the Year. Going by this run, it’s not out of the question that his latest single release Memory I Don’t Mess With eventually climbs to the summit, as well. Another classic saying is when it rains, it pours – and it’s certainly pouring right now.
However, there was no magic wand moment or anything like that, with Brice explaining that all he has done is work exceptionally hard with his team and stay true to himself in his musical application, all while making the very most of the stars aligning in his favour.
“I just kind of feel that…not just me, but everyone around me has worked so hard and will continue to do so, so we didn’t do anything different,” Brice says. “I didn’t want to go down the road of putting a song out or writing a song because it would be a hit and I put so much emphasis on the lyrics and the emotion and what I wanted.
“It matters more in the long run as all my songs I’ve done, I feel they will be around for a while because they went slow on the charts. But even the ones that didn’t go Number One, they are still huge. They are still huge around radio and everywhere else and it shows.
“I feel like most of it is just good timing and things have lined up, but for this record coming up, if the success continues on, it’s because I’ve really kind of taken that line and blurred the lines in a positive way. I’m hopeful I’ve made stuff that people want to hear and that’s easy to listen to, but also still having the depth of the songs that I always fight for.”
A positive of lockdown
One factor for the songs having the depth that they do have on ‘Hey World’ is the national lockdown that was enforced. While Brice – like everyone else – found it incredibly frustrating at times, it did allow him to take more time when it came to the recording process and slow everything down, to the point that he wasn’t rushing anymore and could really get exactly what he wanted from each individual track. As a result of this, Brice believes that the album has possibly turned out better than what he would’ve previously been able to release.
“Lockdown was challenging, but truth is when I look back on it, it slowed down the process, which enabled me to dissect things a little bit more. I think that little things like the parts here and the parts there, as far as the actual record itself, I think they were better because I was able to have even less going on and take my time because it was like, ‘okay we’re going to do one instrument at a time, drummer, bass player, bring it back, I want to change some of the base I mess around with it’ etc.
“It was a little challenging and at first a little frustrating, because we were like, ‘I want to get this done, we’re on a deadline’, but we got it done and now looking back, it even helped the process and maybe the record even turned out better because of it.”
There are some tracks in particular which have given Lee Brice this feeling and these aren’t limited to tracks like I Hope You’re Happy Now, although another one of his favourites is indeed his most recently released single in Memory I Don’t Mess With. There is a deeper cut on the album though that Brice sees as a really special song, for which he was inspired to write on the basis of a family bereavement, which subsequently took him to a certain state of mind.
“Memory I Don’t Mess With is such a reminder of my high school years and probably the most quintessential Lee Brice song on the record – that’s what people would expect from me and when I was writing songs as a kid, that’s the kind of stuff I would write. But there’s also another song called Save the Roses that was inspired by a death in the family of one of my cousins that I grew up with, so it kind of took me back to a certain mindset and a place, but it also says a lot.
“The song isn’t preaching to anybody, but it sure says some things and gets you thinking. Those two are my favourites on the record and are a couple of special songs, but there’s other stuff I want people to hear too because it’s got the country side of me.”
Touring the UK
The plan was for people to hear these tracks in a live setting before they got released, including a stint over in the UK, but alas the pandemic meant that this was put on the backburner. Lee Brice has managed to reschedule his UK dates for next year, which is something he is desperately hoping takes places as he is incredibly excited to not only play to UK audiences, but to also explore the UK as he has never visited this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
“We were so excited to come this year and so it was a really big bummer for all that to go away, because we had it all planned out and a lot of other things over there. I’ve never been over there at all, much less played, so I was so excited. I’ve been abroad of course, but I just haven’t been to the UK, so I’m excited to get over there and we will probably play it by ear once and see what’s going on. We will just feel the crowd and see what happens – after all, who knows what the rules and regulations are going to be by then.”
While there may be some uncertainty regarding the rules and regulations at that point in time (although the vaccine news is naturally very promising), there is absolutely no doubt that Brice’s star will continue to shine bright – or if his recent musical experiences are anything to go by, it will be shining gold like everything he touches right now.