Big Loud Shirt/Sony Music Nashville
"We wrote a song in the middle of the Country Throwdown tour with Craig Wiseman and I guess Jake heard it, liked it and wanted to cut it," Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley tells The Boot. "He was like, 'I want y'all to write a bridge or a verse, and I want y'all to sing on it.' And we were like, 'Sweet!'"
Jake felt compelled to preview the tune, "Summer Jam," at his CMA Music Fest fan party, even though it wasn't the final version. (Watch the performance below.) "I've been trying to help my friends that are coming up -- the Florida Georgia Line guys -- so I wanted to do this song with them," Jake explained to fans at the June 7 party. "We were messing around with the whole 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' thing, and I love the vibe of that tune, so I did this song with them."
While Jake cutting their 'Jam' was an exciting experience, the three were friends before he heard the track. "We met Jake through our producer, Joey Moi -- he produced half of Jake's last album, and we started hanging in the studio and just hit it off," Brian recalls. "Jake has been like a mentor, but he's also been a really good friend. We love hanging out with him, you can learn so much from him and he's such a chill guy."
Since meeting the newlywed singer, Brian and bandmate Tyler Hubbard have had the chance to open several shows for him. "Every time we're on the road with him, we hang out the whole time, which is really cool," says Tyler. "Basically, he's a really genuine guy and a really cool dude to hang out with. When we're in town -- if we're all here -- we'll go wakeboard. It's cool to have someone who's somewhat on the same schedule with you -- on the road during the weekend, but at home during the week, so you can hang out."
Their relationship has obviously led to more than just drinking beer on a boat. "Jake is one of those guys who leads by example," Brian reveals. "We've always wanted our music to be bigger than the music, and that's how he is. We were in Biloxi, Miss., for the crawfish festival and Jake had been there earlier that morning. He and his now-wife Lacey had been walking on the beach and met this guy who was a trucker. I guess his truck couldn't leave until the next day, so Jake gave him tickets. The guy actually hung out backstage, on the bus, ate crawfish, drank beer ... Jake treated the guy like his best friend. That sets the example of how we want to run our business and do our music and be good to people."