“Then as I started to play in college, I did the parties and played in the bars,” he continued. “I started hearing music like (Garth Brooks’) ‘Ain’t Goin’ Down (Till the Sun Comes Up)’ and Hank Jr. That became more of who I was, along with Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith. There are two sides to me. I wanted to be able to show both of them.”
Brice’s affinity for both the soulful ballad and the uptempo rocker is evident on his third Curb album, I Don’t Dance, releasing Sept. 9.
“I’m still the guy who wants to write a ballad lyric, but I want it to rock,” he explained. “On this record, there’s a lot of that — rocking songs that have a groove but also a ballad feel. That’s where my heart is. There’s always the wild side of Lee Brice that wants to throw down and kick the footlights out and get on top of the roller coaster ride at the show. I saw Garth do that. I saw Aerosmith bring you to a point of, ‘This is so intense.’ And then they drop it back, suck the air out of a room, grab a guitar, sing a song and connect.”
I Don’t Dance leads off with the title cut, a meditation on Brice’s relationship with his wife Sara and their two sons, Takoda and Ryker, which Brice wrote with Rob Hatch and Dallas Davidson. “Like a lot of single guys, you don’t see yourself in that moment of getting married and having a family,” he mused. “Then you meet the person who completely changes that. I’m glad she came along, because without her I would still be the dude leaning up against the bar wall, saying, ‘I don’t want to dance. I’m not that kind of guy.’”
The guitar pictured on the cover of the CD is a special footnote to his marriage. “That was actually a wedding present from my wife,” he noted. “I had a friend who had a 1940s Gibson. It was beat up, but I was in love with it. She called him and said, ‘I know Lee loves these kinds of guitars. Can you find one?’ He searched around and found this one. ‘I Don’t Dance’ stands for a lot of things, including me getting to that point in my life. So that guitar is directly connected to ‘I Don’t Dance’ for me and it will always be.”
On the flip side of the emotional spectrum is the uptempo “Girls in Bikinis,” which Brice wrote with Rodney Clawson, Thomas Rhett and Chris Tompkins. “I feel like, ‘Dudes, since time began, we’ve been infatuated with a woman in a bikini,’” he said. “Even when you’re a kid, you’re in awe of that. It’s just boys being boys. I felt like it was a very universal subject to write a song about, as long as it was recorded right and had the right vibe and wasn’t cheesy. I wanted it to be like Mel McDaniel’s ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.’ I think it could be a single I would choose for next spring.”
Recording that track, Brice insisted, was “the most fun I have ever had in the studio. We recorded it with a band at first, but we immediately knew it wasn’t right. It wasn’t what I had pictured in my head. So we went into a small home studio, with some instruments and a keyboard, and did all these parts to have fun. I played everything on there and sang it all. Everything you hear was recorded in that room. It was fun, and that’s all I wanted it to be. We just wanted to see how many hooks we could put in a song — and there’s a bunch,” he said, with a smile.
Brice takes a lot of pride in I Don’t Dance and, even more so, his steady rise since being signed to Curb Records. “I’ve spent a lot of time with (Curb Records CEO) Mike Curb, brainstorming and talking together about the future,” he said. “That makes a big difference in the relationship between a record label and an artist. Whenever you can talk about things, you can work things out. A lot of people have managers who are against the record labels or record labels that are against the artists. It shouldn’t be that way. You should be working for the same goal. I’m glad to be part of Curb Records. We’re one of their horses, so we feel good.”
More on Brice and I Don’t Dance can be found at www.CMACloseUp.com.
On the Web: www.LeeBrice.com
On Twitter: @LeeBrice