With Taylor Swift having so many A-list romances to sing about, it's only natural to assume that she's going steady with every guy she hits the town with. And so it happened in February after the country star hit an LA hockey game with Glee star Chord Overstreet. But Ryan Follese, a Swift pal and soon-to-be tourmate who happens to play in the Nashville-based band Hot Chelle Rae with Chord's guitar-playing older bro Nash, now tells Us to hold that thought. I chatted with the singer of the surprise chart topper "Tonight, Tonight" and the new single "I Like It Like That," (both off his pop-rock quartet's upcoming sophomore disc due Nov. 29) about success and circling in Swift’s orbit. Want more on Follese, his drummer brother Jamie, Overstreet and bassist Ian Keaggy? Then pop by hotchellerae.com.
US: Let's start out with "Tonight, Tonight." Were you shocked how big it was?
RF: Yeah, I knew the song was commercial and I thought it was catchy. I hoped it would do well, but I never ever thought it would go to number one. That's quite a huge jump. I mean having a top ten is an exciting thing, but having a number one record is completely insane.
US: How did that song come about?
RF: It's really kind of just about the way the guys live our lives. It talks about whatever sh*t goes bad, it's kind of like just forget about it and just go out and have a good time. We recorded it in the middle of a tour last year and we had a couple days off at home. We had written songs in LA. We decided to put it on with a new record. We didn't have much left on the first record. We went and recorded it in a couple days and put it out. It kind of just took off. We released it on Valentine's Day. It just kept building and building. It's incredible. It's changed all of our lives.
US: What's it like being from Nashville and being surrounded by all the country groups when you are more pop-rock?
RF: I feel great about it. I love being a pop band that grew up with country roots from Nashville. I think it's cool. It's not exciting forming a pop band from LA or pop band from NY. It's just so — I would feel [that was] expected. I think it's great that we come from Nashville playing pop music. I think it's a cool story.
US: What country stars have you become friends with? I know you guys are opening for Taylor Swift on tour soon.
RF: Yeah, we are in March in Australia. She's a good friend of ours. We actually became friends with her — I don't know if you remember the video she and T-Pain are in from the Country Music Awards. We actually co-wrote and produced that with her and T-Pain. Taylor was originally going to write the rap and she ended up running out of time cause she obviously is the busiest human on earth, so we actually got together and put together a track and started working. I came up with a base core idea of eight blocks and came up with some lyrics, so we got in the studio with her and T-Pain. We rewrote the verses with her. Then, T-Pain came in and we quoted all his vocals. It was just crazy. It happened in 48 hours. We ended up becoming really good friends with her because of that connection.
US: How did it come about with you to open her tour?
RF: It was very organic. We've hung out with her. We've made contact with her every time we go in LA. Every time we’re in the city, we try to catch up and hang out. We have our song out in Australia right now. It’s doing really good. I think it just broke the top ten. We've been to Australia before. I mean not only are we great friends and we’re from Nashville, but it’s also a good fit for the tour situation over there.
US: What is she like as a person?
RF: She's just cool. She's chill. You wouldn't know the difference between talking to her or me right now.
US: She came to your show in Nashville recently at the Ryman Auditorium?
RF: Yeah, she hung out and danced like a crazy person in the front row!
US: What about Chord? Has he invited you guys to be on Glee?
RF: It hasn't been talked about. We would love it. Obviously, it would be amazing. If you're on Glee, I guess you made it right? It's been cool because he moved out to LA to pursue acting right when we went out to LA to record our first record. The duel career paths taking off around the same time; it's just a really cool thing. It's a true test that we were going to go out and pursue something versus giving up. It's been cool to watch both careers blossom simultaneously.
US: Have you gotten to hang out with the Glee cast?
RF: When we shot the video for "Tonight Tonight" Cory came over with a few of the guys. It was awesome. They are all very cool, very nice. We've been over to the set a bunch of times and hung out. We wanted to invite them to do something that we do. They came over on the set one day and it was a really fun time.
US: What were they like?
RF: It's funny because they are really normal and chill. There are no like weird personalities or anything like that. Cory's a huge hockey fan and so are Kenny and I and my brother, so we did a lot of hockey talk. They are just nice dudes.
US: Was it weird when Taylor was dating Chord and you saw them together?
RF: They never actually dated! No, they were just hanging out. It wasn't actually weird at all. They got a long very well because Chord's so outgoing and Taylor's very outgoing. They were just hanging out and they happened to be very famous. But it was never dating.
US: She knew him through you guys?
RF: Yes, exactly.
US: Would she date any of you guys? Is she interested in Nash?
RF: I don't think so. I think it's strictly a friend situation!
US: What is up with you guys? Do you have girlfriends?
RF: One of us has a girlfriend. Not Nash or me though!
US: There's no one on the horizon?
RF: Not that I know of. Not that I can say. But you never know. Life is full of surprises.
US: How does it feel to have this album come out?
RF: It feels great. I feel finally like we are properly releasing a record. And our second single is "I Like It Like That," and I think it’s going to set up the album perfectly.
US: Are there any dream collaborations? I know you worked with the New Boyz on that song.
RF: That was a friggin’ awesome collaboration. I would love to work with Taylor at some point, too. There are so many people I would like to work with. Not necessarily collaboration, but whether it’s writing or just recording or what. Like Pink would be unbelievable. She's one of my favorite female artists. Maybe work with Katy Perry. I would love to work with Kanye West. I think that would be awesome.
US: What else have you guys planned?
RF: Currently we are working on the Script tour. Then, as soon as we’re done with the Script, we are going on a two-and-a-half week trip to Europe, where we will go to a bunch of shows, tour, stuff like that. Coming back from that, Thanksgiving with the family, a bunch of radio shows, Christmas radio shows that are going to be on across the country, which are going to be great. We are possibly looking at headlining a tour for the beginning of the year, but that is very up in the air.
US: Have you toured with Taylor before or is this going to be your first time coming up?
RF: This is going to be our first time and it’s definitely the largest venues we have played thus far.
US: Are you worried about the screaming girls?
RF: Uh, I don't know if worried is the right word. I think excited is a better substitute.
US: They shriek really loud.
RF: They do. It’s very true. But I can definitely get used to it.
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