It’s no secret that record labels don’t always treat their talent the kindest. For every story you hear about a young musician hustling for bar gigs until he finally signs a contract, there are dozens more about musical acts who are given one halfhearted shot at stardom and are quickly dropped back into obscurity.
That’s what makes the story of Chase Rice, the former UNC football player-turned-musician, so fascinating.
Rice, who brings his “Lambs & Lions” tour to The Ritz in Raleigh this Friday, is a success within the music industry by nearly every measure. His 2014 major label debut, “Ignite the Night,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and yielded two songs, “Ready Set Roll” and “Gonna Wanna Tonight,” that landed in the Top 5 and Top 10, respectively.
But he briefly found himself right back where he started in 2010 after he and his label, Columbia Nashville, mutually agreed to part ways.
That being said, Rice makes it clear within minutes of picking up the phone that he never hesitated to ask for his release.
“The decision to get out of my record deal wasn’t even close to difficult for me to make,” he said in a phone interview during a break in his current tour. “It was based off of one conversation I had with a record exec.”
“For me, my life is about belief; if you believe in me, lets get something done, and if you don’t, then just let me go,” he said. “I believe in me and my music, and what I’m building with all of the members of my crew. If you don’t believe it, fine, I don’t take offense to it. I’m also not going to waste my time with you, and that was the situation I found myself in. There weren’t any hard feelings at the end of it, but I asked for – and they granted – my release. It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done in music, just getting out of that record deal.”
Once back on the market, however, he quickly signed with Broken Bow Records, which is handling the release of Rice’s new album – the “Lambs & Lions” of the tour’s title, set to drop in November. The album has received early praise from those who recognize that the lyrics have moved on from the “bro country” label that has dogged the singer since his earlier success, and deal with subject matter more personal than just cutoffs and tailgates.
“I’m finally seeing what it’s like to be with a record company that believes in me,” Rice said. “Not only is the music on this record better, since I now know more about myself as both a man and a musician, but it’s the sophomore record. It should be a better record, since I know more now than I did the first time out.”
The Asheville native continues, “I bust my ass doing what I do, and not only that, but I believe we’ll be playing arenas in no time. With that being said, you still have to have to put the work in and have the music, but we have that. This is the exact same record that we were going to put out, regardless of the label name on it, with the exception of just one song. You can’t convince people to believe in you, and I am just done with that.”
Who: Chase Rice with Travis Denning
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Sep. 15
Where: The Ritz, 2820 Industrial Drive, Raleigh
Cost: $18 to $30
Info: 919-424-1400 or ritzraleigh.com