Brian Kelley is following the example of two of his musical heroes, namely Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney, as he focuses on new music. The former Florida Georgia Line member, who just released “See You Next Summer,” written by HARDY, Hillary Lindsey and David Garcia as his new single, wrote all of the songs on his Sunshine State of Mind album, his debut as a solo artist. But now, Kelley says that, while he is glad he did that the first time around, it’s not something he feels the need to repeat as he works on his sophomore project.
“On the first solo record, one of the goals for me on that record was to be a writer or co-writer on every song,” Kelley explains on Audacy’s Rob + Holly. “Now that I had done that for that first record, I took some time this past fall and really just tried to get dialed into what the next phase is and where I want to take this and just allow myself to kind of get on my own timeline and my timeframe.
“And sometimes that’s hard to do because everybody else is running and gunning,” he continues. “I just felt like it was really important to take a beat and to put my head down and write and write, and just wait for outside songs to come in that I might love.”
The realization that he didn’t necessarily need to write every song he recorded was by looking at the way two of the most successful country music artists of all time handled their careers, which are both still going strong.
“It’s the Garth, Kenny model,” Kelley explains. “They’re both amazing songwriters but they have also built a career on cutting outside songs that they didn’t write. Sometimes you’re the voice for it, sometimes you’re the pen and the voice. And to me, as I’m truly building my solo career, I just wanted to get in that mindset of having some great songs. And I love, love, love supporting the songwriting community.
“I think there’s nothing cooler than that. Not that HARDY needs any more help,” he adds with a laugh. “He’s on fire.”
Kelley knew as soon as he saw the title “See You Next Summer,” that he was already intrigued by the song.
“I remember seeing the title, ‘See You Next Summer’ and I was like, ‘I hope it’s good’… I fell in love with the song,” Kelley says. “It’s the kind of song that you hear a couple of times and you just kind of know it.”
Now that Kelley wrote all of the songs on one of his records, he finds a freedom in letting other talented songwriters help him create his next set of tunes.
“Sometimes it’s easier just to sing a song you love and let the great songs win and take pride or ego out of the equation of ‘I have to write every song,'” Kelley acknowledges. “I set a mark and I did that with another project, and that was really a project, Sunshine State of Mind, that I was able to create during COVID, when the whole world was shut down, and we didn’t have a show in sight for a year and a half or so. I just dove into music. And that helped me get through a time when I was about to go stir-crazy, ’cause I didn’t know what to do.”
“See You Next Summer” is Kelley’s first release on Big Machine Label Group, after joining their roster in 2022.