Brent Cobb chats with Will Houk ahead of his Lake Tahoe gig

by Will Houk

Brent Cobb is a Grammy-Nominated singer/songwriter who hails from Georgia. Last year he released the album Providence Canyon, which he recorded with his cousin Dave Cobb at the famed RCA Studio A in Nashville Tennessee. Brent Cobb’s music is a mix of styles ranging from Classic Country and Rock to the funk sounds of the 1970s.

Will Houk spoke with Cobb by phone about his his latest record and the touring he’s been doing the last couple of years with artists like Chris Stapleton and Whiskey Myers. In this interview Brent discusses his musical styles and a song he wrote for Bradley Cooper’s movie “A Star Is Born”. Cobb also gives details on his new single with Jade Bird, Feet Off the Ground. Brent Cobb and Them will play the Crystal Bay Club on October 27th at 8pm. Opening act will be Haley Whitters.

Listen to audio of the interview.

Will Houk:  I wanted to start off talking a little bit about the most recent album Providence Canyon. The title track is also the album opener. It’s a nice reflective tune. Can you tell us about the origins of that song?

Brent Cobb:  “The origin of Providence Canyon is a little canyon about 45 minutes west where I grew up. We always called it the little Grand Canyon. I grew up going to this place and camping and then it’s just a beautiful little spot to go to a peaceful place. I originally started writing the song Providence Canyon reminiscing about growing up, going into the canyon. It’s sort of turned into more of a spiritual, more literal providence canyon in my own life, you know, not just the actual canyon … just feels like a spiritual haven, you know? That’s kind of where the song came from.”

Cobb recorded Providence Canyon in 4 days in the famous RCA Studio A in Nashville. A few notable artists have recorded songs in the famous studio to include a who’s who of popular music: the Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, Joe Cocker, Alan Jackson, Waylon Jennings, B.B. King, Chet Atkins, Loretta Lynn, The Monkees, Dolly Parton, Leon Russell, William Shatner, George Strait, and Brent Cobb.

WH: “I was listening recently to the podcast Walking The Floor, and you’re talking a little bit about the guys who recorded on the album. The drummer was that Chris Powell? Is that correct?”

BC: “That’s right.”

WH: “You guys go way back and playing music together …”

BC: “Yeah. When I first left Georgia, first place I moved to was LA (Los Angeles). Chris is Leroy’s Powell’s brother. Do you know Leroy?”

WH: “I don’t know him.”

BC: “Leroy was one of the original members of Shooter Jennings and the 357s. Chris is Leroy’s younger brother. He was playing with Leroy and Leroy’s side band at that time. And yeah, he was just one of the best drummers that I ever met. Still is … he’s just fantastic drummer, but he’s just kinda been like an older brother to me.”

WH: “A couple of the songs on the album, a number of them have a real kind of Country Funk kind of sound to them and “Morning’s Gonna Come” and “30-06″ are a couple of them. I’m interested to hear a little more on the influences for that sound stuff you heard growing up and that kind of stuff.”

BC: “I grew up on stuff like “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” you know … all that stuff from the ‘60s and ‘70s, even the ballads back then, it seemed like they were playing sort of a backbeat. Nowadays a lot of the songwriter stuff is just super, you know, not very exciting. That  sounds bad I shouldn’t say it that way, but there’s no, there’s no backbeat. So I’ve always been drawn to that.

“Even in ’06 we were trying to show, to make a country funk album. We wouldn’t call it that, but then this compilation called “Country Funk” of different artists from the ‘70s that came out a few years ago and it was… we were just really listening to a lot of old Larry John Wilson and all that, Bobby Charles … just a bunch of these great classic Country Funky stuff.  So yeah, when we got back into studio for Providence Canyon we just really wanted to try to capture that … kind of feels like rural America?”

WH: “The song King of Alabama’s is a pretty cool tribute to the life and music of Wayne Mills, and I just I’d like to hear a little bit about what was it about his music that was moving to you that that kind of drew you to him.”

BC: “His music was moving but also just as a person he’s just a great guy … again, even like an older brother sort of when I first moved to Nashville in ’08 … and you know learning and getting to know people and that sort of thing, but the deep part of that story in his music, are you familiar with any of this music?”

WH: “I’m not super familiar with it. Just kind of cursory level.”

BC: “The crazy part of that story is the last album that he ever released. It’s called The Last Honky Tonk. It’s got the songs on there … it was called One of These Days I’m  Flying to the Moon … one of these days, I have nothing to prove … one these days I get out of this place … one of these days… and all the songs on that album kinda lend themselves to that. And then of course he died. It’s just crazy. They put that out to the world before he went.”

WH: “You have a new song out with Jade Bird called Feet Off The Ground, and I was interested to hear about how that collaboration came about?”

BC: “Man, Jade is such a beautiful spirit. It was my first trip to the UK two years ago, and Jade opened a show for me at the Slaughtered Lamb. We had the same at booking agency. I’d never met her. We met that night, and then we’re going to get together to write the next day. I got this crazy text message like four pages long as if someone was describing a character to me. I didn’t know that that’s what was happening. It was just this wild random text message from a number I didn’t have on my phone.

“So I responded, thanks for this, but I’m not sure who this is. It was Bradley Cooper. Apparently, Dave had given him my phone number because he’s working on “A Star is Born.” And he thought maybe I’d be able to write some stuff for the movie. I already had Feet Off The Ground sort of lying around. I had the melody. I had the first verse. And I thought, man that might be a really cool song for that movie.

“The next day when Jade and I got together, first time we really hung out, I told her what was happening and played a little bit of Feet Off the Ground that I already had. And then we finished it there in the hotel room. It never made the movie, but it’s just … it’s been a really cool song. We recorded it. We actually recorded it while we were recording Providence Canyon, and it didn’t make my record either. We thought why not put it out and try it again? Let’s do it.”

WH: “So you’ve been on that road touring quite a bit this year, and you’re going to be playing up a Lake Tahoe in October. Where have you been out on the road so far?”

BC: “Oh, man, we’ve been all over the country. We started out on the West Coast. We started “Sucker For A Good Time Tour” out west and then we picked up with Whiskey Myers. We opened for them for about a month. It was in like Wyoming and Montana and Colorado. Then we did this Stapleton tour again this year, and we were out with them for about a month and more of the Southeast. And now we are currently in the Northeast. Making our way back out west.”

WH: “Do you have any plans for the next record? Are you just kind of touring right now or are you still songwriting?”

BC: “We’re touring. Then we’re going to go in the studio in December and start working on the new album. I got most of it wrote. I like to have most of my albums wrote and then go into studio and like, write the last two or three in the moment. We’re going to try to have something out sometime, like the spring of next year.”