Five years ago, Brian Kelly and Tyler Hubbard were students at Nashville's Belmont University, writing songs between classes on the back of Hubbard's truck. Today, they're Florida Georgia Line, with a hit called "Cruise," about a babe in a bikini who listens to the Marshall Tucker Band and happens to like fast trucks and guitar-playing men. "Cruise'' turned the duo into country superstars -- it spent a record 22 straight weeks on Billboard's Hot Country songs chart until a month ago, allowing Hubbard (from Monroe, Ga.) and Kelly (from Ormand Beach, Fl.) to open for both Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan.
"On the Taylor tour, there's no alcohol, so that's definitely a lot different," Hubbard, 26, says in a brief phone interview, elaborating on how FGL got from there to here. FGL performs at the sold-out Vets Rock 2013 concert at Farmingville's Pennysaver Amphitheater on Saturday.
Early on, working as house painters and car washers, how hard was it for you to carve out songwriting time?
We lived together in the same house with a couple of our buddies and we tried to make time every day to write, whether that was in the morning or night. We didn't have a regular job -- we just did odd jobs to pay the bills. We didn't have much of a routine then.
We've both been blessed with a really good upraising and family and stuff like that. That really keeps us grounded. It also takes us back to being outside and riding motorcycles -- just anything that takes you back to childhood and who you are.
Your dad passed away when you were a sophomore in college. How did music help you cope?
Dad was proud of me and he loved the fact I was doing music and writing songs, and he was a big supporter and believer. Just knowing he's watching and his pride helps motivate me to work harder and keep this thing going.
Do you bring motorcycles with you on the road?
Not now, but in the fall we're going to have a toy trailer. We're going to have our motorcycles and probably maybe a little four-wheel or something like that. Something to ride around in arenas.
VETS ROCK 2013 (presented by Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University) featuring Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Thompson Square, many other acts
WHEN|WHERE Saturday at 4 p.m. at Pennysaver Amphitheater at Bald Hill, Farmingville
TICKETS Sold out
INFO Pennysaveramp.com 631-648-25000