The award-winning duo's new record 'Dig Your Roots' is out now

By Madison Vain
August 25, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Justin Mrusek

Florida Georgia Line, the genre-bending country duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, have earned an enormous following with their hard-partying tunes like megasingle “Cruise” feat. Nelly, which launched the group into the arena-headlining stratosphere for their annual tours and just became the first song in the format to achieve diamond status.

But for their third album, Dig Your Roots (out now), the two looked elsewhere inspiration. They wrote eight of the album’s 15 songs and, perhaps surprising to skeptics, mainly focus on such topics as wanting to start families (“Grow Old”), monogamy (“Lifer”), getting to know dad before he goes (“While He’s Still Around”), and finding faith (“Dig Your Roots”) — and, okay, yes, the occasional party-starter (“Smooth”).

As they move on to the set’s second single, the Tim McGraw collaboration “May We All,” Hubbard and Kelley caught up with EW to discuss career evolution, teaming up with the Backstreet Boys, and what they learned from McGraw.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re famous for songs like “Cruise,” but Dig Your Roots focuses heavily on family, religion, and legacy. Why the shift?

TYLER HUBBARD: With every record, we’ve tried to show where we’re at that year. Our lives have changed pretty drastically over the record cycles. [So] it’s fun to see the evolution, to go back to the old records and see the good times and then listen to the new record and see the place we’re at now — and to have the fans come along with us.

H.O.L.Y, written by written by Busbee, Nate Cyphert, and William Wiik Larsen, was the lead single for this album. How did you come by that track?

BRIAN KELLEY: When that song came in, we didn’t really know what to do with it at the time, but a week into having it in our emails, Tyler called me and was like, “Are you and Britney listening to this ‘H.O.L.Y.’ song as much as Hailey and I?” So we cut it.

Anything Goes didn’t have any features, but on Roots you worked with Ziggy Marley (“Life Is A Honeymoon”), Backstreet Boys (“God, Your Mama, and Me”), and Tim McGraw (“May We All”). What made you seek out so many collaborations?

KELLEY: We wanted to try out some different things. Nick [Carter, of The Backstreet Boys] just started hollering at me and Tyler. He was going back and forth between Nashville and L.A. doing some writing and some song searching, so I passed him some songs and folks. And he ended up on our bus before our CMA set in June, and the song was mastered, we had already done all of our vocals, but he loved it. A week later they were putting their vocals on it! They were my first concert in the sixth grade! House of Blues, Orlando, Florida!

“May We All” is you new single, and you just shot a brand new video with McGraw. How was that?

KELLEY: Tim’s a legend. He’s been through a lot and continues to put out great music that’s fresh, he’s a great actor, and a great family man. The way he balances his life out and the way he treats people — he’s “humble and kind” — is something that we look up to him for. We didn’t get to record the track together because of scheduling, but we got to shoot the video today, and that was an extra special day. We took a different approach. There are no status shots or playing, it’s just set in a small town at a dirt track with some race cars. It’s going to be really powerful.

The brand new video for “May We All” is directed by TK McKamy, who also directed the video for Florida Georgia Line’s “Confession.” See the “May We All” video below. Dig Your Roots is out now.

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