There’s something a little different about Travis Rice. Unlike the majority of artists who come to Music City from all over, he’s Tennessee-born and bred, hailing from just down Interstate 40 outside of Crossville. The singer tells #CMChat that he still lives there today – and actually prefers that to the hustle and bustle that is Nashville.
“It’s become really convenient for me. I’ve never really had the desire to move downtown. It’s just too busy, and the lifestyle is a little bit crazy. I love visiting, but I also like the idea of being able to zip back home when I need a breather and to get out in the open air.”
What does he remember the most about home growing up?
“It was pretty slow-paced. I was kind of split. My dad was from Southern Kentucky, and his family farm was there, and ours was in East Tennessee. So, there was a lot of bouncing back and forth, but the lifestyles were very similar. It was very laid-back. We lived close to the lake, which probably explains why I’m such a lake bum. Anything I can do on the water, I’m all about. Overall, it was pretty simple.”
Rice – whose mother worked for the school system, and his father is a contractor – says that at first, music vied for his attention with sports.
“I grew up playing sports. Basketball was my life until I started playing music. I thought I would make a career out of coaching, then all of a sudden, it was like a light switch and I just never looked back. I’ve never missed sports. I’ve never had regrets about not playing or coaching. It just really surprised me, because I was always that kid who thought that would never happen to me because I was so passionate about it.”
But, as it turned out, life had other plans for Rice.
“As soon as my senior season was over, I put the basketball away. I didn’t even send film to many colleges. Over my senior season, I was still enjoying it, but it was less and less. When it was over, I knew I was done with that part of my life.”
However, switching gears in his mind wasn’t the easiest for the singer.
“In my first year of college, I really didn’t do anything. I had always had this drive. Everything I did was for basketball in some form or fashion, and so I guess it was a lost feeling that first year because I wasn’t into music as a career yet. As I was in college, the people I was beginning to hang around were musically oriented. My best friend put on a concert for a mutual friend who had been diagnosed with cancer, and he asked me to come and play because he was trying to fill the ticket.”
That performance changed Rice’s life.
“When I did that, I connected with a few people in the crowd. My nerves seemed to go away, and that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks – I had a purpose again. There was something that I needed to invest in and work towards.”
Expressing himself through music was nothing new to the singer, who said he has always been able to do just that.
“Music was always my journal. If there was something I was dealing with, I could always turn to music. It was always there for me. That’s how I got into writing songs. As soon as I picked up the guitar, I started writing songs. I really wasn’t good enough to learn people’s songs, so I just tended to try to find a couple of chords that I could do easily, and add lyrics to them.”
Putting his emotions to music eventually helped him to connect with his audience – especially on songs of heartbreak and despair.
“I’ve always been a sucker for sad songs. That’s where I dumped those emotions. I never talked about them. I got things out of my system verbally. When I started making that connection with people, saw that look in their eye, and that they understood, that’s when it became a lot more to me than just a way to get things off of my chest.”
And, how many of those songs might have been influenced by someone of the opposite gender? A smile comes to the singer’s face.
“I did a song called ‘Instantly in Love,’ and the girl and I actually dated for a short time. We met on spring break in Panama City, which would be a no-no for most people. She actually went to school not far from where I did. That song is pretty much word-for-word the story of the week we spent there. She heard it when the album came out. On that first album, there was nine songs, and I know at least two of the subjects found out. I’m cool with that. I’m glad that they know that they had an impact on what I was doing.”
Rice said the foundation behind his latest single, “Women, Water, and Beer,” is a little more universal.
“I think that everyone figures into the current single, I guess you would say. All of my circle back home on the lake all figure into that song, just enjoying the smaller things in life. In Nashville, you can pretty much do anything you want to do at any time you want to do it. There’s a lot more options. It’s not that way back home. It’s a lot more abstract. You’ve got to create your own fun. I’m glad we were able to encompass that into the song.”
Rice will be hitting the road with a vengeance this summer. Influenced by artists such as Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt, the singer has dates all over the map – ranging from Georgia and Virginia to Ohio, and will also be embarking on a college tour later in the year. He said he’s ready to bring the music to the people, and he’s also been working on his autograph – for which he’s been receiving some behind-the-scenes coaching.
“I write really small, and Nicole Zeller, my publicist, is always telling me to write big. I also write left handed, so there’s the whole smudge factor. But, I’ve been practicing my autograph since high school. That’s one of those deals that everyone dreams of – to have people who want their autograph!”
Travis Rice’s latest single “Women, Water, And Beer” is available now on iTunes.