There's a photo of his father that Chase Rice has always loved. The snapshot captures the country artist’s dad on a trip to Wyoming in the ‘80s, wearing a cowboy had and holding a beer in each hand.
Rice told iHeartRadio that the photo of his dad, who died in 2008, inspired an album cover — and, along the way, it launched his involvement in an initiative to help protect first responders. “Protect Our Protectors” launched with Coors Banquet on Thursday (August 4). The Colorado-brewed beer company aims to spread awareness for American firefighters through the program.
“Protect Our Protectors” begins as climate change contributes to increased devastating fires, which rage on amid staffing shortages among Wildland Firefighters and others (particularly, in California, Oregon, Washington and other areas), according to a press release announcing the program as the U.S. heads into peak wildfire season. The efforts will span through October 16. Marcelo Pascoa, Vice President of Marketing for the Coors Family of Brands, said in the release: “Wildfires are an increasing problem, and they don’t just affect the West. We’re expanding our efforts nationwide to protect our protectors – the brave few who run toward the fire, not away from it.”
Rice, who is described as a “wilderness lover and firefighter advocate,” shared a few photos on Instagram on Thursday evening, reflecting that he, “got to hang with some of our Wildland Firefighters in Idaho last week. These men and women are the best at what they do and I got nothin but respect for em.”
When speaking with iHeartRadio, Rice said it was a “natural fit” to team up with the organization. He learned what Coors Banquet was doing to protect firefighters when he reached out to talk about putting his dad’s photo (holding Coors Banquet) on his album cover. Rice said their efforts with firefighters in the western region of the U.S. resonated because he wrote much of his new record there, and “it’s got a very Western feel to it as well.” Before he knew it, he was trying on a full uniform and carrying heavy gear to get an idea of what it was like to battle a blaze: “It is a very, very dangerous job. And I didn't realize how (dangerous) until I did it.”
Here's How Chase Rice's Upcoming Album Is Different Than Any Album He's Released Before
Rice recently launched “a whole new chapter” with his latest single, “Key West & Colorado.” The song quickly became a fan-favorite, after teasers garnered millions of views on social media and Rice played the song live while touring with Kane Brown.
“It’s just a whole new phase in my life that I'm so fired up to get out there,” Rice told iHeartRadio of his upcoming project. Its production was unique, he said, because it was written on an acoustic guitar and used one producer. His own home was the studio. “It's just much more real and raw and how I'm best at making music. And ‘Key West & Colorado’ was just the tip of the spear on that.”
The song was inspired by a real-life trek Rice made from Florida to Colorado. Rice credited his longtime friend and fellow singer-songwriter Brian Kelley with bringing up the idea to write a song based on that road trip. “We’ve had a lot of success together over the years, whether that’s Florida Georgia Line and me touring together (or) writing songs together,” Rice said. The two teamed up to write it during an impromptu songwriting session with John Byron, Blake Pendergrass, Corey Crowder and Hunter Phelps.
“Key West & Colorado” is the first song Rice recorded when he began to record his next album. “It's a perfect example of where this album's going,” he said, adding, “it's a timeless album. It's something you're gonna be able to listen to in, you know, 15, 20 years, and it still sounds really, really awesome. …It really won't age any way, but great.
“(The album) got really personal,” Rice continued later. “If I'm gonna put my dad as the album cover, it's gonna be music that I'm proud of, and I think he would be proud of. …I especially think he'd listen to this album and say ‘OK, that's the son that I raised and the son that I know.’ It's very, very personal to me with these songs…and much more vulnerable than any other music I've made.”
Though his album doesn’t have a release date yet, Rice aims to debut the full project by late this year or early next year. Until then, fans should be on the lookout for teasers and new singles as the “Eyes On You” singer gets ready to join Jason Aldean on tour this fall.
Rice will be performing during the 2022 Daytime Stage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival on September 24th. Fans can tune in to stream live via iHeartMedia radio stations throughout the country across more than 150 markets, and watch via an exclusive national television broadcast special on The CW Network in October. Find available tickets here.
Listen to “Key West & Colorado” again here: