Interview: Brent Cobb on His “Country Funk” Sophomore Single & Life on Tour with Chris Stapleton

Brent Cobb has spent most of this year on the road with Chris Stapleton as part of his “All American Road Show” tour. Somehow, Cobb has found time to work on the follow-up to his debut album (2016’s Shine On Rainy Day), and just released a brand-new single and video. We caught up with the singer-songwriter just before he opened Tim McGraw & Faith Hill’s “Soul2Soul” tour stops last weekend for a chat about new music and lessons from the road.

On his “All American Road Show” gig:

“They’re all just the sweetest human beings on earth,” Cobb says of Chris Stapleton and his wife, Morgane. His fellow opening acts include Anderson East and Margo Price (both of whom also have new music on the horizon), and together they create a blend of country, Americana and soul sounds on tour. “They’re like family,” says Cobb, describing the tour as the perfect setup: “I cover the country side of what Chris does, and [Anderson] brings the soul. Margo and her band are so tight and funky. It’s like being at summer camp.”

And what has Cobb learned from watching Stapleton perform night after night? “It’s confirmation that what my band and I do, and how we feel about music, that we’ve been right,” he says. “They’re a 4-piece band selling out 20,000 seaters, and everyone is singing every word. They don’t move around or even address the crowd very often – it’s just strictly about the music, and it’s a sight to see each night.”

Stapleton’s success (which, much like Cobb’s, has been slowly building over the last year or two), offers validation for Cobb and his band: “It lets me know that if it’s just for the sake of the song, that it can actually still work,” he says.

On his pre-show vibes: 

“We sing the first verse of ‘Diggin’ Holes’ a cappella with three piece harmony,” describes Cobb, who also sips on a glass of bourbon before taking the stage each night. “We pick on songs, listen to good music, maybe watch the Willie Nelson Austin City Limits debut episode from 1974.”

Speaking of good music…

Whatever country revival Cobb could be considered a part of, his contemporaries are certainly holding up their end of the bargain. His current favorites include Tyler Childers’ Purgatory – “All my friends back in Georgia who are riding around listening to top 40 radio are asking me if I’ve heard his stuff,” he says. Former tour-mate Nikki Lane’s Highway Queen album is still in rotation, as well as Colter Wall’s latest self-titled project (“Can you believe he’s only 22? What a punk.”). 

On his own new material:

Cobb teamed up with Ram Trucks for a video series leading up to the release of his new single, “Ain’t A Road Too Long,” out Sept 13. “I was planning on writing anyway,” Cobb says, “so everything you see in the videos is true.” (Except for the near-disastrous game of horseshoes: “Everybody knows you shouldn’t play horseshoes on concrete – I nearly broke that camera,” Cobb says, adding that he’s actually a pretty good thrower.)

Cobb wrote the track, which takes a notable left turn from some of the stripped-down songs on his debut, over a day and a half. “With Shine On Rainy Day I wanted to get in touch with myself and be as bare-basic as I could,” he says, recalling his goal of creating a “thoughtful” album. But now, Cobb is embracing a different vibe: the new single is still country of course, and includes the rural themes Cobb is known for, but it’s a more upbeat “country-funk” jam.

“I wanted it to have a lot of energy,” he says. “It felt like riding down the road.” Cobb acknowledges Jerry Reed and fellow Georgian Larry Jon Wilson as major stylistic influences on the new track.

He’s quick to point out that the song, despite its carefree sound, contains a heartfelt message that details the hardships of being away from home and family. “I mean the hell out of it,” he says. “You can write fun songs and they don’t have to be stupid, just like you can write serious songs that don’t have to be depressing.”

Key Lyrics: All I got is my good name, and my family waiting back home / So I keep driving, stay in my lane / Ain’t a load too heavy to haul, keep me goin’ / Ain’t a road too long.”

Cobb has been collaborating with frequent cowriters Neil Medley (Luke Bryan’s “Tailgate Blues”), Adam Hood, and Aaron Raitiere while on the road. He’ll be touring with Stapleton through November – find tour dates and other info here.