Jesse Rice has recently released his new album the ‘Pirate Sessions III’ on January 27th. Rice had released the first two installments in 2012 and has been busy ever since. The new album has peaked inside the Top 5 on the iTunes Country Charts and is something Rice is extremely proud about. Jesse is also known for writing songs for other artists or co-writing – you may know a song of his that Florida Georgia Line cut that goes by the name of ‘Cruise’ which is Billboard’s longest running #1 single! He took the time to talk with NECM and give us a really great interview on his album and the lead single off the record.
Adding on to his previous Pirate Sessions is something Jesse looks forward to doing and is something he will do for the rest of his life. Although it’s been five years since the release of the first two, the response fans gave to the new album is amazing- “It’s awesome to see the response from people, you know? It debuted on top 5 iTunes Country charts… I guess I have a lot more fans out there than I thought! The Jimmy Buffett ‘Parrot Head’ group really loves this type of music and they were excited for this new stuff.” The third installment does differ a little from the previous two because it has a more up-tempo beat with a party feel to it; as opposed to ‘Pirate Sessions I & II’ having some slow ballad songs on them. When he wrote the song ‘Cruise,’ it changed a lot of people’s lives, according to Rice. Songwriting will always be his first love, but the Pirate Sessions is something that is tailored to him and his style of music. It is a good representation of who he is as a person and artist.
Rice tends to gravitate towards the kick-back, beachy side of writing because that’s where he is most comfortable. “I grew up on the beach, so I’m a beach kid. That subject material is my life and there is always something about being at the beach. I just know it really well.” Writing these types of songs comes more naturally to Jesse than other styles of writing, however with being a songwriter for other artists, he knows how to adapt. But aside from growing up on the beach, he likes to take into consideration what his fans want to hear when writing new music.“I get a lot of feedback, I try to keep in mind who’s listening and where they’re listening. I get a lot of ‘oh we play this when we’re on our boat’ or ‘we play this when we’re on the beach’ so I keep that in mind when I write. And this album ended up coming out more festive and has more feel good songs.” His style of country on these albums can be compared to those of Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney and even the Beach Boys and Bob Marley.
And speaking of beaches, Rice held an album release party at the Port Theatre in Port St. Joe, Florida, which turned out to be a huge success. “We sold it out and had people from all over, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina. It was really cool that all these people came out for this. It was a pretty special night.” Rice also says that he would do another type of release party like this again in the future. “I’ll keep making these records, and I promise it won’t be five years before the next one! I already have four songs written for the next one…” – teaser!
The writing process was harder this time around for Jesse. “I hold ‘Pirate Sessions I & II’ in such high regard as art and a craft. It was something we really put time and heart into and the songwriting on those first two records are great, in my opinion. I know I wrote them but I’m subjective. So for me, for this record, I had a tough time living up to my standards. It took time to find the right songs. I wanted to put out a record sooner, but I just never felt the songs were right. I wanted it be worthy of the first two.” However, with great songwriting and features, the album surely came together.
There are six features on the new record, with one of them being Michael Ray who will be performing at our New England Country Music Festival in August. Working with Ray was super easy, Rice said. “He’s one of my best friends and he’s a great singer. He’s a Floridian, so he understands this type of music, too.” Jesse explains that the ‘Pirate Sessions’ has a purpose, and that is to have features; “the spirit of the ‘Pirate Sessions,’ to me, is that it’s a communal thing. And that’s why I love having guests artists on there because that’s what it’s always been about. I will always do this for these records.” Florida Georgia Line and Chase Rice were featured on the first record.
The lead single off the record is ‘Hangout With A Hangover’ and Rice really connects to the song personally. “It’s kind of a true story, its basically every time I go to Key West it feels like that. It’s about going there and having a great time and partying like people do, and waking up the next morning saying ‘I’m not gonna do that again.’ But the problem is, the first place you go, everybody is doing it… so you’re like ‘oh well, might as well! Here we go again!” The song was wrote in the car while on the way to Key West through Rice’s voice notes. He likes the song because it can be played anywhere and people can relate because they’ve definitely had that moment before.
His favorite song on the album (although it was very hard for him to choose) is ‘Island Eyes’ and has Kristen Rogers as a feature. He chose this as his favorite because it was the first time a girl vocalist has been featured on any of the pirate sessions, which made it extra special. Out of all three sessions, he could not name a favorite. “Man, why do you have to ask me such hard questions like that!!” Rice said jokingly. “These are my babies. To me all of these albums are unique and different. They all mean something different to me. So it’s hard for me to say which one I like more.”
Rice has plans for touring in 2017. He plans on being on the road a ton and getting his music out there to as many people as he can. The next few months are super busy for him and he said they are adding new shows almost everyday. “I’ve got big plans for this thing! There’s a market out there that’s just wide open.” When asked if he would be playing any shows in New England, Rice responded with “Oh yeah! I have to!” So hopefully we can see him stop by in the near future. C’mon Jesse!
The ‘Pirate Sessions III” is out now on iTunes. Be sure to give it a listen and add it to your summer playlist because it couldn’t be anymore perfect. Aside from the album, be sure to stay on the lookout for Jesse, hopefully, coming to town to play shows. He gave a super fun interview and is really excited about his new work.
You can purchase ‘Pirate Sessions III” on iTunes here.