Lee Brice Salutes The Best Kind Of Friends In New Single, ‘Drinkin’ Buddies’ Feat. Nate Smith And Hailey Whitters [Exclusive]

This lively track is serves as the first single to drop from Brice’s forthcoming album. 


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

May 8, 2024


2:10 pm

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Nate Smith, Hailey Whitters, Lee Brice; Photo by Chase Lauer

Lee Brice rallies his friends and fellow country stars Nate Smith and Hailey Whitters for his fun-filled new song, “Drinkin’ Buddies.”

The lively single saw success right out of the gate as it became the No. 1 most added that week, earning Brice his highest career add day at Country radio with 109 first week stations. This feat also marks the biggest add day for any Curb Records artist since 2009 and stands as the top add day of any label act so far this year.

Brice Instantly New He Had To Cut This Song

Brice has certainly had his fair share of collaborative releases over the years, but “Drinkin’ Buddies” brings a whole new level of energy and lightheartedness to his catalog. The song was penned by Zach Kale, Chris Destefano and Justin Wilson, and produced by Ben Clover and Jerrod Neiman and instantly hooked the Curb Records multi-Platinum artist. 

After getting pitched the track and listening through just the first chorus, Brice was sure he wanted to cut it. 

“I got about halfway through that first chorus, I said, ‘okay, I’m cutting this.’ I stopped the song.  Didn’t even get to the second verse.”

The Tune Celebrates The Importance of Good Friends

Nate Smith, Lee Brice, Hailey Whitters - Drinkin' Buddies
Nate Smith, Lee Brice, Hailey Whitters – Drinkin’ Buddies

He explained it wasn’t just the catchiness or the fact that it was sure to be the perfect late-night soundtrack for his listeners, but it was also the narrative that really struck a chord with him. The track starts off by documenting an unsuccessful boy’s day fishing on the water or hunting in the trees that leads to a night out on the town with the person who can always make a bad day better. 

“Been in this tree all day/ Ain’t heard nothin’ but squirrels/ Ain’t scoped a single thing/ But I love this country world/ Hey man, I’m on the lake/ But I’m ’bout to float on back/ Out here just slingin’ bait/ But ain’t hooked one single bass, naw,” Brice sings in the opening verse.

He continues onto the chorus, “Thank God for drinkin’ buddies/ They can make a bad day better/ Yeah, them drinkin’ buddies/ You know we tip ’em all back together/ Downtown clowns in the neon light/ Out in the sticks on a Saturday night/ They always got your back/ When your wallet runs out of money/ Thank God for drinkin’ buddies (well, thank God)/ Thank God for drinkin’ buddies (well, thank God).”

“I Was Just In Love”

What Brice didn’t realize upon first listen is that just past the first chorus is a verse that requires a female voice to take on the role of the broken-hearted woman in need of some good friends to cheer her up.

“I went and listened to the rest of the song and honestly, the song got even better because the cool thing about the camaraderie on the song, I mean, normally if a girl and a guy are on a song, it’s got some type of love or breakup, or whatever it is,” he explained. “This is a camaraderie between dudes and girls and it’s this cool thing I just haven’t really heard. You hear sort of the same song written in different ways all the time and this song was just so unique because of that, and I was just in love.”

Tapping Hailey Whitters And Nate Smith

So when it came time to choose a male and a female artist to fulfill the roles of his “Drinkin’ Buddies,” Lee Brice says he did some research to seek out the perfect pair of singers who had a bit of free time in their schedules and who would also make the song even more lively. Luckily, Nate Smith and Hailey Whitters checked off every box and were excited to jump in on the project. 

“I knew Nate was going to just put out a big single and it was going to be a while before he put out another one. I knew the same thing with Hailey, so they just seemed awesome…it was really cool because about six weeks later, Nate had a 10-week number one. He had already recorded on this, and he was excited. We had a great time.”

During a recent interview at Live in the Vineyard Goes Country 2024, Whitters admitted that it was an easy “yes” to Brice’s request to join in on this song. 

“Lee called me and asked if I would be willing to jump on the song and I was like, shoot, I mean, I’m such a fan of Lee and Nate. It was very exciting to me and it’s such a fun song, catchy,” she shared with Country Now. “We got to hang out and make a music video for it and it instantly felt like drinking buddies, like my older brothers or my boy friends that I would go out drinking with and hanging with. It just felt so fun. I’m pumped to be on it.”

Filming The Lyric Video Was Just As Much fun As It Looked

Lee Brice also only had positive things to say about his experience shooting the lyric video with Whitters and Smith. The clips find the trip of country artists hanging out, playing a few drinking games and overall, having a good ol’ time in a bar, just as the song intends. 

“We just had a ball. So if the video looks fun, it’s because it was fun,” he said. 

While the artists don’t currently have any plans in place to perform the song live together, Brice says he hopes that one day they will find themselves on stage and sharing a cheers with the audience while delivering the celebratory lyrics. 

YouTube video

Brice Set To Unleash Honesty In Forthcoming New Album

“Drinkin’ Buddies” serves as the first single off Brice’s forthcoming album, which will mark his first project since 2020’s Hey World. The South Carolina native revealed that the upcoming collection of songs is currently expected to drop sometime in the beginning of 2025 and will offer an authentic and raw look into his artistry. 

“Every album I make, I obviously try to top the last one and I think we’ve done it for sure on this record,” Brice shared. “I definitely was as honest as I could be, heart on the sleeve, but also, I love to take people on a rollercoaster ride in my live shows, and it’s kind of the same thing on my records. I love all kinds of music. So there’s little hints of all the influences of music…It’s definitely diverse and I’ve got a song unlike any other song on the record. It’s really fun, it’s really honest and impactful. I’m just excited to move to the next level of my own kind of competition with myself.”

Me And My Guitar Tour Likely To Hit More Cities In The Future

Lee Brice; Photo by Chase Lauer
Lee Brice; Photo by Chase Lauer

Lee Brice has spent the first few months of the year touring on his Me and My Guitar Tour, which brought an intimate acoustic show to cities across the country. The country star says he had so much fun on this trek that he hopes to bring it back again at some point in the near future. 

“I grew up with just me and my guitar…so I really wanted to make the tour special and not just a guy sitting on a stool and calling it a show. And I put a lot of effort into it,” he admitted. “I went through my whole life through the show, I played like two and a half hours every night by myself, and it felt like it flew by in a blink of an eye. It even gave me a little boost of magic back.”

He added, “It’s going to be a huge part of my career from now on.”

Joining Dierks Bentley On The Road Once Again

Before he can plan his next headline run, Lee Brice has been tapped to appear as an opening act on select dates of Dierks Bentley’s Gravel & Gold Tour this September. Additionally, he has a slew of festival dates on the books throughout the summer. 

For a full list of tour dates and to purchase tickets, visit LeeBrice.com.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.