From there, Wallen has seen his star rise, hitting the road with stars like FGL and releasing his debut album, If I Know Me, in April, which features “Up Down.”
“We’ve been friends a couple of years now,” Wallen told PopCulture.com of his relationship with FGL members Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley. “They just treated me like family pretty much from the beginning, you know. And we’ve written songs together and done a lot of things together, but I originally just planned on putting the song out by myself.”
“I didn’t have any plans of it being a feature,” he added of “Up Down.” “And they heard the song, and they were like, ‘Man, we like this. We love this.’ And I was kind of psyched. ‘Well, thanks. Y’all wanna pop on here, you know?’ Just kind of messing around. And they go, ‘We actually will.’ So that whole thing just kind of happened, and it’s cool to see what it’s doing.”
The trio recently performed the track on Jimmy Kimmel Live, marking Wallen’s first late-night appearance and yet another measure of his growing success.
Though the friends haven’t “sat down and had a conversation about it all,” Wallen shares that there are a few things he’s learned from watching the duo over the years.
“I’m just trying to watch them and how they’ve handled their career and just to see how focused [they are] and how they treat their craft,” he said. “At this point, they could easily just relax, and they don’t. They stay focused and they work hard and they’ve figured out other adventures, like Old Camp Whiskey, and Tribe Kelley, whatever it is. They’re always looking for ways to develop their brand, and I think it’s pretty inspiring.”
As an opener on FGL’s Smooth Tour last year, Wallen got a firsthand look at the pair’s energetic show, sharing that it’s something he hopes to incorporate into his own performances.
“I love how high energy they keep the whole set,” he explained. “And I wasn’t always that way, because I have an artistic side to me as well, I like watching shows in like theaters and stuff like that. I think it kind of showed me that it’s more fun to keep it high energy and up-tempo the whole time during my shows. So I’ve been kind of modeling my show after that. And it’s been working really well.”