The country singer-songwriter dishes on the deluxe release of Lambs & Lions and debuts the music video for his rendition of the Chris LeDoux track “This Cowboy’s Hat,” featuring Ned LeDoux and directed by Cody Cannon.
You may have heard of multitalented country singer-songwriter Chase Rice. Known widely for his electric and edgy country hits, the Florida native brings a varied background to his music. Some of the adventures he channels into his music: playing linebacker for the University of North Carolina, NASCAR pit-crewing for Hendrick Motorsports, and competing in Nicaragua as a contestant on the 21st season of CBS’ Survivor.
Rice’s sound is as exciting as his life. His major-label debut album, Ignite the Night, brought an upbeat and poppy undertone to country listeners, landing it a Top 10 spot on Billboard’s Top Country Albums. His second album, Lambs & Lions, brought the same and more.
With hits like “Ready Set Roll,” “Ride” (feat. Macy Maloy), and “Eyes on You,” and a collaboration on the Ned LeDoux song “This Cowboy Hat” with Chris’ son Ned, Rice combines brings a fresh texture to traditional cowboy country for an original take on the genre.
Rice released the deluxe version of Lambs & Lions on March 1 and with it came four new tunes, “Love Me Like You Don’t” and “25 Wexford St.,” as well as re-imagined versions of album cuts “On Tonight” and “Eyes on You.”
Recently we talked with Rice about the deluxe edition of Lambs & Lions, his friendship with Ned LeDoux, and singing “This Cowboy’s Hat” together.
Cowboys & Indians: You just dropped the deluxe version of Lambs & Lions. What excites you most about its release?
Chase Rice: I guess the four new [songs]. I mean, I’ve sang and listened to the first 10 songs since 2017, now, so you always want new music, you always get excited about new music. It’s “25 Wexford St.,” “Love Me Like You Don’t,” and then to me, honestly, for whatever reason, but the acoustic version, the UK version of “On Tonight” is really, really being taken well. And then the acoustic version of “Eyes on You” is on there as well. I started with an acoustic guitar before anything, so I wanted to go back to the acoustic vibe for those two songs and obviously “Love Me Like You Don’t,” “25 Wexford St.” are very, very different. … [I’m] just excited to get the music out there.
C&I: You’ve got a really special track on the original album and the deluxe version. It’s a cover of the late Chris LeDoux song “This Cowboy’s Hat,” which you sing alongside his son, Ned. What has been the response to that song?
Rice: Oh, it’s been great. It’s not become this big mainstream song, which that’s a perfect session for Chris, you know. Both Chris and Ned have kind of stayed away from the mainstream music and that’s kind of how they lived their career because they stuck to what they wanted to do and they didn’t do what other people told them to do, which is what I respect the most about both of them. And they’re cowboys at heart. I think they’re cowboys first and musicians second. I’m not sure if they’d agree with that, but that’s kind of how Chris seemed to be and I respect him for that. …
That was my childhood — those were my favorite childhood songs. Chris LeDoux is like my guy. It was Garth Brooks and Chris LeDoux. And for me to be able to record that song with his son and with one of the guys from Western Underground playing on the song, which he played some lead stuff, that’s insane. I just never thought that would happen to me, but it was received really well and Mac McAnally produced. If I was going to do it, I wasn’t going to screw it up. We had to do it right and I think we nailed it.
C&I: How did you and Ned LeDoux meet?
Rice: Actually, I took a phone call. Storme Warren from [Sirius XM’s channel] The Highway, he and I were talking about how much we love Chris LeDoux and we were talking about rerecording “This Cowboy’s Hat” and he was like, “Well, why don’t you do it with [Chris LeDoux’s band] Western Underground? That’d be awesome.” And Mark Sissel’s the band leader for Western Underground. … Those were his guys. So I talked to them and Mark called me about a week later. He was like, “Man, it’s a little too close to us. We’re not sure we really want to go that route because the last time we really played that song live was with Chris on stage.” So I said, “Well, what about Ned? I mean he’s doing his artist thing now. Would I be able to talk to him?”
So Mark got me in touch with Ned and when Ned and I talked, we hit it off right away. We both had the same idea, which is an entire generation of kids don’t know this song, so if we can get it out there to some of them, let’s record it together. And we did. We talked on the phone a little bit [beforehand], but the first time we ever actually met was when we recorded it in the studio. That was a special day.
C&I: Out of all of the tracks that Chris has come out with, what drew you to “This Cowboy’s Hat”?
Rice: “This Cowboy’s Hat” was my favorite as a kid. It’s just the story of a biker and a cowboy that don’t see eye to eye and by the end of the song, they do. So it was just my favorite Chris LeDoux song growing up, and that’s what drew me to it and that’s why I wanted to record it. To have Ned on there, that made it. It’s not the same song without Ned doing it.
C&I: You and Ned have a video coming out. Tell us about that. …
Rice: Yeah. The original live version of “This Cowboy’s Hat” was with Chris on stage and it was just a live video of him singing it, and all the craziness that he does on stage. … He was always known for his wild actions up there on stage. And that’s what we wanted to go with. …
Ned and I got this show together in Colorado and he was actually playing before me so I walked up during his set and we sang “This Cowboy’s Hat” together. So we kind of wanted to give a little tip of the hat to his dad and how he did it originally, with a live music video, and that’s what we did. We actually added in some of the original video as well. So it’s just got a lot of old school with some of Chris actually in the video, and then it’s got Ned and I playing together in Colorado, which was, you know, primetime cowboy country.
C&I: Do you guys plan on doing any more live shows together?
Rice: Yeah. And I don’t play it unless it’s a special place. I really don’t play that unless it’s somewhere that Chris played or somewhere that’s just a special place that will understand the beauty of that song or if Ned’s with me. We don’t have any planned yet, but I’d love to do some more shows with him and get out West. That’s where his core audience is and I’d love to get out there and do some more together. I think it’d be awesome.
C&I: How did the recording process for the track go? Ned also has the song on his Sagebrush album.
Rice: Right. Yeah, and it’s the same version. The recording process was just in the studio in Nashville. Mac McAnally was producing. He was also playing on it and I did that because Mac helped produce Chris toward the end of Chris’ career and he’s producing Ned as well, so I figured as long as we got Mark Sissel, Mac McAnally, and Ned LeDoux involved, we weren’t going to screw it up. It’s like I said: I didn’t want to put something out and not — I wanted to honor Chris and Chris’ fans as much as we possibly could and having those guys involved was the key to that. Yeah, we took a couple of takes at it, kept it very real. We didn’t play to a click [track]. We just kept it as real as possible, let the musicians feed off each other.
C&I: Any fun stories or memorable moments along the way?
Rice: Well, the most memorable to me was it was me, Mark, and Ned all standing there talking and we weren’t even recording yet. We were all just kind of sitting there and the musicians were in there getting ready and Mac was in there getting ready. And out of nowhere, Mac just starts playing the guitar, the same exact sound that you hear — the fingerpicking part in the beginning of “This Cowboy’s Hat.” Seriously, we were all talking. As soon as he started playing that, we all stopped. We just stopped talking and looked and it was just a moment of, “Oh, my God.” It just felt like it was the ghost of Chris LeDoux all of a sudden in the room. It just felt real eerie and creepy in a really cool way — just for a second Chris was in the room saying, “Hey guys, we’re about to do this thing,” and it was just a really cool moment of all of us just stopping and like, “Whoa. This is about to happen.” That was my favorite moment of the whole day.
C&I: It’s such a great song and you do such a great job of bringing it new life. Can we expect more Chris covers or any more collaborations with Ned?
Rice: I won’t do any more Chris covers, I don’t believe, because I’ve done it. I believe that nobody can do Chris LeDoux justice like he does, so I’m not going to go down that road anymore, but I’d love to do another song with Ned down the road, absolutely.
Get a first look at Rice’s music video for “This Cowboy’s Hat,” below.