Brent Cobb is a name that every Country music and Americana fan needs to know. At the moment, Brent is one of the hardest working and sought after artists in the industry and has a long list of songwriting credits for some of Country music’s finest musicians such as Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Little Big Town, to name but a few. His current album Shine On Rainy Day is one of the best albums I have heard in a long time and will no doubt remain one of my favourites for years to come.
Brent had his first ever UK show and a headlining one at that at The Slaughtered Lamb on January 26th 2017 which was out of this world. My review of the show can be read here ;
Before his show, I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with him and I must say that he is one of the most, if not the most, interesting people I have ever spoken to. Brent is so knowledgeable and talented and has led a truly fascinating life. He is very expressive with his words both in person and songwriting and speaks and writes from the heart and is an honest and humble gentleman.
Brent was very kind to me and made me feel really comfortable talking to him. I could have listened to his stories all night.
I hope you enjoying reading the interview as much as I did taking it.
Thank you, I am happy to be here.
Seems like a nice venue, I have never been here before.
I didn’t look it up, but I think it has a lot of history. The name ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’ was a little intimidating, at first.
So what made you decide to come over to the UK?
I have always wanted to come over here and when we were putting the record out it just seemed like we had to do it, you know? I have a lot of friends like The Cadillac Three – and I write a lot of songs for Whiskey Myers. So I got a lot of friends who come over here and everyone loves it, Andrew Combs is one of them. So it just seemed appropriate to check it out. Everyone says just how appreciative everyone is for good old American music.
Yes, every artist seems to say that and it’s wonderful to be appreciated. We are very attentive, but we do cheer and clap too, at the right moments.
It will make me more nervous, in a good way. We appreciate it as much as you appreciate us here.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background? What made you want to be a musician and how old were you when you started writing?
I was really young when I started writing. I am from a really musical family, my dad and his brothers have always played music. My dad still plays in a band and Matty too. There’s this artist named Doug Stone, who was huge in the nineties, and he had my dad come to Nashville and Matty, too. My dad was going to sign a record deal but he didn’t do it because he would be away and I was only seven and my sister only three, so he stayed working on the farm during the day and playing shows on the weekends. So he’s really musical and I made my stage debut with him when I was seven years old. I sang a Tim McGraw song. Then my mamma and her brothers are all very musical, but they were more into Zeppelin and Neil Young and that kind of stuff, so it’s always been around and I’ve just always written. It was the only thing I was really good at.
Not a bad thing to be good at.
It’s working out so far, ha!
So, sticking to the topic of family, your cousin is producer Dave Cobb. I read that you met, and sorry to bring it up, at a family funeral.
Yep, it was his grandmother and my great aunt Christine. Christine was real musical too, I grew up going to church. Dave lived in Savannah and we grew up never knowing one another. He was on the opposite side of the state- on the coast of Georgia – and I lived on the Alabama side, right across the other side of the state. So we didn’t know each other growing up, but I knew his grandmother because we went to the same church. She’d get up, man she’d get her clogs on and just be kicking around, ha! I was close to her growing up and I was a pallbearer at her funeral.
When Dave was there, at the funeral, word got around that he was a producer and, despite us all being musical, we were skeptical. So, standing around after the funeral, I was sort of in a light way, a kind of an asshole because I said, ‘So you’re a producer, huh? What have you produced- because we never heard of you’. Then Dave said ‘Shooter Jennings’. When he said that, it kind of thawed me – we had all been listening to that record. It was so neat to have a cousin that was also as musical as I was and us not ever knowing one another – and then to meet and be magic, as we are on the same page.
You gave him a demo that day, I believe? I often think, ‘Gosh!’ – you are both in a very, could be awkward, moment when you’re probably both thinking, ‘Please like it.’ and he would be thinking, ‘Please be good…’
Yeah, exactly, that’s how he tells the story. Apparently they were on the way to the airport and he was reluctant to listen but his wife talked him into listening to it. Then two days later he called me, which was great because you know, you’re a cousin at a funeral and you’re like,’ check my demo out’, ha! Luckily he liked it. That was ten years ago.
You’re the perfect fit really, like you said, you’re on the same page.
I believe that your father wrote the song Country Bound on your record?
My daddy and my mamma’s brother.
That was a long time ago as well?
Yep, yep, that was the first song I ever witnessed being written. I was probably five or so – we were in Cleveland, Ohio and it was the first time that I ever saw snow. That’s the reason I guess that I remember that moment. I turned around and they were on the couch in the apartment where my uncle used to live at and they were writing Country Bound. Then every year we’d have a family reunion and we’d always bring out the guitars and I always requested that one song.
It’s such a great song and so relevant even now. It’s one of those songs that will always stand the test of time.
That’s what I felt like. I always felt that way and I am glad that other people do too.
I would never have known that it was that old, had I never read it. I love that about Country Music, apart from the more modern side like bro country, most of it can last forever.
It’s supposed to be that way.
I would like to talk about your song Shine On Rainy Day, title track to the album – and a song I love by the way. How was the writing process behind that, because I know that you wrote it with Andrew Combs? I am so glad you both have it on your record, but why was it a different title, as he calls it Rainy Day Song?
I don’t know. When we originally wrote it, this is what happened. When Andrew and I met, our publishers had booked us a co-write as they thought we would write well together. So, we got in a room and I had never listened to his music and he had never listened to mine and we got to talking about different stuff and what we were into. I had that first verse that ‘I’ve loved strangers. dodged deals and dangers’ and I had the progression. We weren’t writing at this point, we were hanging out for about two hours and we hadn’t even jotted a word down so I just decided to say, as I’d had that verse for a while, ‘Hey man, what do you think about this? We could finish writing this.’
We wrote that chorus and then the second verse together and it was funny because the way that we originally wrote it, it went “Thank God for rainy days” which was the end of the chorus. So we didn’t know what to call it, because we didn’t think that was a great title- so we just put it in our notebook as Rainy Day Song. Then Andrew actually went home and he made a little demo of it and he changed that line to ’Shine On Rainy Day’. It was the most beautiful line to me, so when he sent it back to me I was just like ‘great’, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t name it Shine On Rainy Day on his record. It’s so good though, his track of it is so good.
Andrew mentioned that Lee Ann Womack will also be cutting a version on her new record, is that right?
Yep, yep, she cut it. I don’t know if it will make her record but she already recorded it. It may make her record.
That’s pretty cool.
It’s such a cool version of it too.
I’d love to hear it. I hope it gets released as she has a phenomenal voice
Oh yeah, she may have the best female country voice in the history of Country Music
Your album Shine On Rainy Day will have its official UK release in March. Were there any songs that didn’t make the album which you wish had?
I try not to worry too much about that, because I have been writing for a long time anyway and also professionally for a publishing company. I have so many songs and they all sort of lend themselves to me and there’s a couple like you just said that might have been nice on this record, but they’ll be great on the next one, or the one after that.
You also have an impressive list of songwriting credits with some of Country Music’s finest musicians, like Whiskey Myers, Luke Bryan and my personal favourite Miranda Lambert. What is it like to write with her?
Miranda is such a real songwriter, there are a lot of artists in that town that are huge artists but that’s what they are, they are singers, not really songwriters. Miranda is a true songwriter. She comes in to do a co-write and she is like, I don’t know, she is a great hang first of all and there is no… she’s not kidding, you know what I mean? She’s not making anything up and so it’s just like hanging out with your buddy who happens to be a really great songwriter.
That’s one of the things I like about her, she’s so real, there is no over the top behaviour, no falseness.
Even with her fans, I mean a lot of people….
They got it turned on?
Yeah, and she is so real which I love and totally respect
I do, too.
You were part of your cousin’s compilation album Southern Family which is one of my favourite albums of last year. How did that project come about? Did Dave approach you with an idea, or just ask you to be a part of it, as you wrote and co-wrote quite a few songs on the album?
I had taken a break, my wife and I had our first baby. I stopped touring and Dave called me about a year and a half into my daughter’s life and I really had no direction. I was writing but I didn’t know who I was writing for and it was kind of a weird time. Dave called me out of the blue and said that he was putting together the concept album Southern Family and he thought it was appropriate to have his little bitch ass cousin to be a part of it.
I thought it was really neat because I know that it must have meant something personally for him too, because it was called Southern Family. We ARE a southern family. The story of our relationship, I don’t know, it seemed appropriate and it was amazing because when he did that it was the first time that we had recorded together since the record we did in 2005/2006 – No Place Left To Leave. I had done some things here and there with him, working with other artists that he was working with, but he and I had never gone in to record something for me since that first record. So we went in the studio and it was just like, man, it was exactly what I had been wanting to happen- for a long time anyway -since we did the first record, but we could just never get back together till then.
The calibre of artists on the album is outstanding.
On Southern Family?
Yes! I had never heard of artists such as Anderson East before – and his voice, without sounding horrible, does not match him visually.
I know, have you seen him live yet?
Wait till you see him live, it will blow your mind. My mother and my wife both said the same thing as you, then they saw his show.
That record Southern Family is so funny because it got good press and it did ok, but I think it’s going to be one of those records that in twenty years from now, people will look at it and still love it! An album that grows with age.
I agree and have so many albums that I feel that way about, yours included.
Some albums get richer and richer and richer as time goes by.
Do you think the Country Music market is now re opening its door to more traditional sounding artists? Because it was for a while, very bro country dominated.
It’s a nice time to be in Country Music. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know it’s nice to be in the Americana Association as it has had so much time to develop and evolve and turn into actually something that has a little bit of power now. I think it’s great that they didn’t sever that relationship with Country Music even though Country Music may have tried to sever that in years past. Now, they’re still cousins, so I think it helps to lift the genre of whatever this is up. It just helps it to be heard and it took a long time to get to this point, to where it actually has an avenue.
What artists should we be listening to? Doesn’t have to be country.
I have been listening to Middle Brother, do you know anything about them?
No I don’t.
They put one record together, the lead singer of Deer Tick, and three lead singers of different groups that make up the band they called Middle Brother. They put a record out about four years ago – you should listen to that, it’s really good. And then, I just said this to somebody, I just saw the Willie Nelson Austin City Limits show from ’74. The pilot episode of Austin City Limits is the baddest live-in-any-genre-of-music show that I have ever witnessed in my life.
Well I will definitely be looking those up, thank you!
Thank you so very much for talking to me today.
I am so excited for the show tonight.
I can’t wait!
Brent will be returning to the UK in may where he will be playing a headline show at THE BORDERLINE in london as well as being part of WOOD FESTIVAL in Oxfordshire on May 21st.