Interview: Cole Taylor Chats Georgia Roots and Hit-Writing for Himself and Others

There must be something in the Georgia water, because the talent pool that makes its way to Nashville is incredibly impressive. Cole Taylor is no exception – the artist and songwriter, whose friends from back home include Cole Swindell, Chase Rice, and Brent Cobb, is tearing up the country scene. Though you may know him from his current single, “Cold Beer,” you’ve also definitely heard some of the songs he’s written, including “Home Alone Tonight,” recorded by Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild, and Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire.”

Taylor’s musical journey began around age 12, when he sang for the first time in front of his church to some karaoke tracks. “I didn’t know how to play guitar before my senior year [of high school],” he says of his musical beginnings, “so I would write lyrics but not really songs. I knew how I wanted them in my head, so my freshman year of college I really started writing songs and playing them for people, and some that I was proud of [I] put out on some albums and let some people hear.”

A move to Nashville wasn’t far behind. “Luckily I had Cole Swindell and Brent Cobb and Chase Rice, I had some guys to kind of look up to and ask them questions,” he says, “and they were like, ‘Look, just go out to Tin Roof or go to these writers rounds and just kind of find your people that you click with, and write songs with those dudes first.'” 

Not only did Taylor find his crew, he also found his week: one week in December of 2013, he co-wrote both “Sippin’ on Fire” and “Home Alone Tonight” – that same week the next year, he wrote “Stay Downtown” for Cole Swindell. “I’m a really superstitious person, so when that week hits I just kind of hit it pretty hard now,” he says.

As both an artist and a songwriter, Taylor has a joint mission – write hit songs for himself and write hit songs for other artists. “‘Cold Beer’s kind of the first song that from the beginning we didn’t pitch at all,” he says. “It was the one I knew I wanted to put out for me. I think I just kind of know in the room, but I also like to get other people to sing my songs so I don’t wanna miss out on that.” 

“I’m a melody guy and an idea guy,” Taylor says of his experience in the writing room. “I grew up on 90’s country and those ideas, but then I also grew up on R&B and rap so the phrasing and the melodies… there’s like a mess of a burnt CD in my head.”

Taylor often describes his music as a bit of a burnt CD – he grew up in the era of throwing songs from Lynryrd Skynyrd, Garth Brooks, Usher, and Eminem all on one disc, a mash of styles and genre that’s influenced his music today. His musical palate continues to be diverse: current favorites include Ed Sheeran, although he’s often throwing it back to old Kenny Chesney or Akon.

As his popularity grows, Taylor remains proud of his Georgia roots. “I love seeing somebody [from] where I’m from do it,” he says, referring not just to friends like Swindell, but to artists like fellow Georgia native Luke Bryan as well. “It’s more of an inspiration than it is an ‘I need to do it this way.’ [If] some dude from south Georgia can do this, I can do it too. Stick to your guns and stick to what you know and sing about what you know, and it’ll all pan out how it’s supposed to.”

Grab “Cold Beer” on iTunes, stream it below, and join us for a conversation and songs with Taylor on March 23 on Facebook Live!