Although Chris Lane released his sophomore album Laps Around the Sun Friday, when he was growing up in North Carolina, the rising country music star believed he was headed down a totally different career path.
“I definitely thought that I would be playing professional baseball right now,” Lane, 33, tells PEOPLE. “Although I loved music growing up, it’s not something I really ever thought about other than I just loved singing along to songs on the radio. All I truly knew was playing football and baseball and basketball.”
A native of Kernersville, North Carolina, Lane graduated from high school and went on to become a skilled batsman and outfielder at UNC Charlotte, where he played with his twin brother Cory. He was injured in 2004, and although he recovered and continued to play in college, starting 54 of 56 games his junior season, he had several ACL reconstructions which ultimately ruined his chances of going pro.
“I worked really hard to move on at that after college,” Chris admits. “My twin brother got drafted. I didn’t. As bummed out as I was, I’m really thankful for it now because I would have never picked up a guitar.”
Despite being drafted in 2007, Cory also opted to forgo a career in baseball and ended up coming back home to help Chris work for their dad in landscaping. But quickly, the pair found that hanging up their cleats didn’t mean they couldn’t continue working side-by-side. Now, the identical twins perform together on stage every show with Cory on the drums.
“He never played an instrument growing up, much like me,” Chris says. “We both kind of figured it out together. He’s been there from the beginning and to watch this thing grow — just to have him out there with me is definitely very special.”
However, because they are identical twins, Chris said that people often get them confused, and not only when they’re on tour.
“I get tagged in hundreds of photos a night saying, ‘Just met Chris Lane,’ but it’s a picture of [Cory],” Chris said. “Even in my hometown.”
Chris thinks it’s “hilarious,” and has become a running joke between him and his family.
The brothers’ camaraderie began from an early age, and because they’ve worked together on the field and onstage, they have similar outlooks on what its like to work in the music business. Chris says playing baseball prepared him for his new job trajectory because of the level of discipline it took to play at the collegiate level.
“When I was in college, it was always 5:00 a.m. workouts, then you go to class for how ever many hours you have,” Chris says. “You go to practice and then you go to study hall after practice and do homework. Music’s honestly a lot of the same way. You’re always writing when you’re on the road or even when you’re in town, there’s not a whole lot of off days.”
Aside from playing sports, Chris says that his work ethic was passed down from his father, whom Chris says was “bummed” when both he and Cory didn’t pursue baseball after college.
“As passionate as he was about sports and baseball and football, I think the music has definitely overtaken him,” Chris jokes. “He is sometimes a little too proud of me. He makes up reasons to go to the grocery store just to tell people.”