Brent Cobb, a Man Making a Living
Grammy-nominated musician Brent Cobb will continue his Sucker for a Good Time headline tour this spring and summer, including a stop at The Basement East on Thursday, March 28.
The tour supports his latest record, Providence Canyon, which was released in May 2018 by Low Country Sound/Elektra Records and was produced by Grammy Award-winner (and cousin), Dave Cobb.
His 2006 debut, No Place Left to Leave, was also produced by Dave and was recorded when they were both living in Los Angeles. Not long afterwards, Brent decided to give Nashville a try. “The Nashville move was definitely more of a songwriter move,” he says. “I knew that it was a town that had an industry built on songwriting and that you could sort of get the equivalent to a salary-type job as a songwriter if you’re fortunate enough, and if that’s what you want to do. Some people don’t really want to share any of their publishing, but I was willing to do that and get paid a draw.”
This work as a songwriter led to cuts by Lee Ann Womack, Luke Bryan, The Oak Ridge Boys, Little Big Town, and Miranda Lambert, to name a few. “It hasn’t paid huge bucks, but it’s afforded me a living for the last decade or so, which is all I ever really wanted,” Cobb explains. “It’s easy to sound that humble, I know, but it really is all I want — to just make a living.”
Although he’s had numerous cuts by other artists, Cobb never makes writing for someone else his focus. “I’ve always been fortunate in that anything I’ve ever written, it’s always been from a place of ‘Well, I would perform this,’” he says. “I’d write something I felt like an audience of my own would want to hear and that I felt personally, and for some reason, that’s always worked for me that way.”
On Providence Canyon eight of the 11 songs are cowrites, but it’s not something Cobb does nowadays with a large pool of songwriters. “I remember when I first moved to Nashville in ’08 I hated cowriting, and I didn’t know that was part of the deal of songwriting,” says Cobb. “I was used to free-styling by myself, letting my thoughts flow in a room and bouncing ideas off myself. I guess I still prefer to start a song that way. Most of the time, I’ll bring in a whole first verse, chorus or half a chorus, an idea, a feel, a melody, and a core structure of the song. I’m not stingy with it, sometimes I just make it to the second verse and then I don’t know what else to say after that first verse and chorus, so I enjoy that part of it. Sometimes I might be too lazy to finish a song, and it helps to have a cowriter. These days, I’m not as promiscuous with songwriters. I stick to a certain few that are friends I’ve made over the years, and I tend to just write with them if I’m going to cowrite at all.”
Penned by Cobb, Bailey Cooke, and Jason Saenz, the title track is one of eight cowrites on the album. Providence Canyon is an actual place about 45 minutes west of his childhood home in Americus, Georgia, where he and his friends liked to hang out. “It’s this beautiful canyon that was formed out of terrible farming practices over decades and decades, and it looks like a little Grand Canyon; they actually call it that,” Cobb explains. “The album felt like Georgia, like a place like Providence Canyon, and I wanted all my music on the record to kind of feel that way.”
To achieve a musical landscape that reflects this actual landscape, he leaned on guitar player Mike Farris, who “knows every Lynyrd Skynyrd lick in the book, and I knew I wanted to make it move a little more musically; lyrically all the songs kind of feel the same.
“A lot of times at our merchandise line I’ll have people come up that are a new fan, and they’ll ask me which album of mine is my favorite, and I can’t really say I have a favorite of my own albums, but I will tell them, ‘Well, it depends on what you’re into,’” Cobb continues. “The Shine on Rainy Day album is more of a Sunday morning feel, and then Providence Canyon is more of a Saturday night. I think that’s where I was sonically too when we were recording.”
Cobb’s tour schedule will have him on the road throughout this spring and summer including runs with Whiskey Myers this June, and Chris Stapleton on his “All-American Road Show” tour this August.
Cobb says he loves being out West and will be on tour with Whiskey Myers in that area this summer. Not only has he been friends with the band for a long time, but Whiskey Myers has also recorded several songs Cobb has had a hand in writing. “I know that they’re blowing up right now, and I look forward to playing in front of their crowd,” says Cobb. “I wrote a song called ‘Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd’ when I was about 16-years-old, and that was their first major single that they had back in 2010 or so. It’s still one of their biggest songs to play, and I really look forward to getting out there with them and seeing their crowd sing that song, which was just a song I wrote so long ago.”
Later this summer, Cobb will be back out on the road with Chris Stapleton for the third year in a row, and this time around Stapleton is putting him on the direct support slot for around 10 shows, according to Cobb. “I’m really looking forward to it; it’s like summer camp.”
When asked if there would be any collaborations on stage between Cobb and Stapleton, Cobb stated he wasn’t sure about this time, but last year he and Mike Farris would join Stapleton on stage for his hit “Might as Well Get Stoned.” “It was awesome every night, but what was not awesome is that I had to sing the high part, Morgan Stapleton’s part, to Chris Stapleton,” says Cobb. “Now that’s not an easy feat! I don’t know if nailed it every night, but we had a lot of fun trying.”
Cobb has been opening every show with “Sucker for a Good Time” for the obvious reasons that it’s the name of the tour and a fun song to get the show started. The song is also near and dear to him, having written it around seven years ago with one of his best friends growing up, Jesse Miller, and his older cousin, Anthony Cobb. “It’s so cool to see the whole crowd into this song,” says Cobb. “When we were writing it we were just having a blast and not being serious about it. Anthony got me into all kinds of trouble growing up, but he also turned me on to all kinds of really cool music that I probably shouldn’t have been listening to. Then Jesse and I got super into Nirvana, and we played in a band in high school together. It’s cool we all wrote that together. That’s probably my favorite song on the album maybe just for that reason, and because I like story songs that make you want to move at the same time. It’s not just a party song, but it kind of feels like a party.”
Cobb is no stranger to The Basement East and is excited about his up-and-coming show there. “The last time I headlined The Basement East was maybe a little over a year ago, and ole’ Tyler Childers actually opened for us acoustically, so all I’m saying is I have a good track record.” Cobb’s good friend and songwriter Adam Hood will be open.
In regard to what Cobb has planned for the rest of the year, he says he has a lot of songs building up and may try to get into the studio later this year and get something started.
But the news Cobb is most excited about is he and his wife are expecting a son. “I’m going to keep trying to make a living and provide for the family, and that’ll do.”