Over the past year, the Cody Bryan Band has been gaining new fans all over Texas, Oklahoma and beyond with their fresh take on Texas country. The foursome have supported some of the biggest names in the Texas music scene and recently entered the Texas charts with their single “Wreck Me.” Front man Cody Bryan took some time to talk with us about the band's beginnings, the album and what’s ahead.
Originally, you guys were a rock band. How and when did the Cody Bryan Band as we know it come into being?
We all grew up in Austin and started playing the alternative rock scene, as a group called Aimless Gun, when we were in college. That band consisted of the same guys that are in the Cody Bryan Band [myself, Zach Lynch, Miles Barker, and Casey Conway] now. The chord structure and lyrics in our songs for Aimless Gun were definitely country, but our bassist and drummer, who grew up listening to Metallica and rock music, were hesitant to actually play country music. Then, about two and a half years ago, we just decided to fully embrace it [country music]. We wrote a completely new set of songs, changed our name to the Cody Bryan Band and here we are.
I read that you yourself became hooked on Texas country after seeing one of the many free shows in Austin. Was there any artist in particular that tipped the scales for you?
There were three: the Randy Rogers Band, Wade Bowen and Cross Canadian Ragweed. All three of those guys were my biggest influences in high school, and still are.
Your album Wreck Me was released in May of 2013. How did you initially connect with your producer Matt Noveskey?
Matt is from a very successful band called Blue October. He had worked with us as Aimless Gun and helped me encourage the guys to change our focus to country. He believed that we could really be successful if we let the music do what it wanted to do naturally. He is a terrific guy with a great musical ear who helped us bring a fresh, genuine sound to the record; a sound that is somewhat different than what you might typically hear coming out of Texas.
We actually went into the studio with Matt and cut the record before we ever played any of the songs live, which is really different than the way most bands go about it. We felt like we had a lot of strong songs on the album and are really super happy, and proud of, the way it all turned out.
Many of the songs on the album are about relationships, both good and bad. Are they written from personal experience?
I went through a tough break up a few years ago and I guess the timing was right with having a broken heart and writing songs. There is a theme throughout numerous songs on the album of struggling with relationships and bad break ups, but I would consider Wreck Me an easy listening record; it’s not sad music, it’s actually pretty upbeat.
I co-wrote all of the tracks except two. One is “Why God Made Saturday Night,” which was written by Monte Warden of The Wagoneers. We didn’t have a good party song for the album and that song was a perfect fit. The other song is “When We Were Made,” a really touching ballad, which was written by Paco Estrada.
Your current single, which is also entitled "Wreck Me," is in the top 40 at Texas radio.
“Wreck Me” is our first legit single and having it chart is really, really cool. We did our first radio tour, which lasted about a month and a half, for that song. It was a lot of driving, I put almost 5000 miles on my car, and a lot of unusual hours. We were getting up at 6am and singing at 7am, which is unheard of! Singing the first couple of songs so early in the morning, you’re like “what is my voice doing?,” but we really enjoyed getting out there, promoting the single and meeting people.
In addition to the single and the radio tour, you guys have had such a busy year touring and supporting some of the luminaries of the Texas music scene.
We have been non-stop busy! We have such a great team around us now, including a great booking agent, radio promoter and manager.
We have been getting out every weekend and touring all over. We have gotten to support so many of the artists that we admire too! We opened for the Randy Rogers Band at the Nutty Brown Café, which was epic! He is my biggest idol in the country world; to be able to open for him and then meet and talk with him after the show was just incredible. We are learning so much from the artists that we have been opening for; everyone has been more than willing to show us the ropes and welcome us with open arms. There are a lot of bands out there [in Texas] and we feel like we have been welcomed into a really nice family.
Are you currently working on new material?
We are getting ready to go into the studio at the end of month to start on an EP. Then, we are planning on a full length record for early next year, around springtime.
Finally, is there one record that you cannot stop listening to?
Will Hoge’s Never Give In. I have never heard a bad song from Will. We opened for him twice and he and his band just smash it! Will is incredibly talented, and a super humble and nice guy!
For more information visit the Cody Bryan Band's official website
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Purchase Wreck Me here
Sunny Sweeney has never shied away from incorporating personal stories in her music. Her first two albums Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame and Concrete contain songs that are earnest, sassy, humorous and vulnerable. Sunny returns on August 5th with her third, and very honest, album Provoked. She graciously took the time to chat with us about the album and playing with one of her heroes.
Before we dive into the record, a few weeks ago you got to play a show with one of your heroes, Merle Haggard. That must have been incredibly exciting.
Oh my gosh, I’m still on a complete high from that!! I have been doing this [music] for over a decade and have met him a couple times, but I have never gotten to play a show with him. The whole time I was there I was thinking how crazy great it was! That was a bucket list item for me, so I crossed that off of the list and moved another item up there!
On August 5th, your album 'Provoked' will be released. You started work on the album last summer. Do you feel like it has been a long process?
It feels like that, but it also feels like “wow, I started this last July and it’s finally here.” A whole year has gone by, but the end product is exactly what I want it to be. I absolutely cannot wait for fans to get it because, and I know this sounds cliché, but I mean it when I say that I am really, truly so proud of this record.
The record, which surpassed its initial goal, was funded via Pledge Music. What made you decide to take this route?
I had some friends who had made a record this way and they had told me that their fans really enjoyed being involved in the process. I have found that too. My fans have come up to me and thanked me for letting them be involved in making the record. I am thanking them right back because without them, there would be no record! I did specific things on the album because they were a part of it. I know my fans and what they want and they know me. It is such a camaraderie and was such a cool way to go.
You are releasing the record in conjunction with Thirty Tigers who are known to give artists a great deal of control.
I looked to see what I wanted to do with the record and as soon as I met with the people at Thirty Tigers I knew that working with them was exactly what I needed. They lean on the artist to be an artist, and for me, that is an amazing thing. Their creative department, along with Kim Buie, is just the best. We had a really great working relationship.
Many artists say their latest record is their most personal, but this really seems to be true with 'Provoked.'
You know, I have been through a lot in the last couple of years and I am not one to hold back. If there is something that happens to me or a friend, I think that it is a gift to be able to write that particular story. If the experience brings out emotions in me, I presume it would bring out emotions in other people, and I feel led to write about it.
There are thirteen songs on the album and I co-wrote eleven of them. Out of those eleven, seven or eight are all extremely personal stories. I have performed some of them at shows and the fans have been very receptive. That’s what it boils down to for me; all I want to do is make music and have people respond to it whether it makes them dance, cry, call their parents, mend a relationship or move on….whatever emotion it may be.
So is there one song on the record that you would say is the most personal?
“Uninvited” is really personal. I will never ever tell anyone what it’s about, but it is something that happened, and it sucked when it happened, but it was a very big learning experience for me.
I wrote it with my good friend Natalie Hemby one rainy day in a cabin in the country. Natalie is my saving grace and just so easy to open up to when we are writing. I am incredibly proud of that song.
The first single from the album, "Bad Girl Phase," is such a spunky, sassy song that people love.
Thank you! I didn’t write it [the song was penned by Jessie Jo Dillon, Shannon Wright and Brandy Clark], but when I heard it, I knew I wanted that song! I wanted a sassy, get up and move song because I didn’t have one for the album that I had written. I’m always about the song; the best song should win all the time. I didn’t just want some filler song on the record because I wrote it. Finding this song was exactly a "right place, right time" moment.
Rolling Stone previewed another track on the album, “My Bed,” which is just so moving.
That song is one of the more personal songs on the record. It is about the end of a relationship, which I think everyone has been through in some way, shape or form. A break up is never easy and not something people want to talk about, or have the person’s name brought up or see their picture, at least I don’t. If I end something, it’s over and I think that you just have to grab yourself by the bootstraps, be an adult and move on.
I have Will Hoge, whom I freaking love, singing on the track with me. I have Will on a very high pedestal. He is just so brilliant and super cool and really, one of most talented people in industry. I asked him if he would want to sing this really country song about a break up with me for the album and when he said he would love to, I was just so happy! His voice, which is so real and raw, adds such a cool edge to the song.
What is the meaning behind the title of the album?
There are a few interpretations for Provoked. Sometimes, women say things about one another, do things to one another, and have catfights. Then there is the relationship angle where people get close, but start drifting apart and picking fights and provoking a situation. Finally, there is the overall viewpoint of being provoked or provoking others, which many of the songs on the record encompass. I think too, it is just a cool one word title, and the artwork solidified that for me.
The album artwork turned out incredibly cool. Who designed it and what is the significance of the tape covering your mouth?
We always do everything in Nashville, but I live in Austin and am friends with the Dodd sisters [from Backstage Design Studios] who are just two of the most genuinely creative and talented people I know. [They won the Best Recording Package Grammy this year for their work on Reckless Kelly’s Long Night Moon]. I wanted to see what they could do with the artwork and they nailed it! The cover with the tape over my mouth is kind of like saying, “don’t test me.” When I look at the cover, I think “that’s it right there!”
Finally, is there one record that you cannot stop listening to?
Jason Isbell’s Southeastern. I’m obsessed with that album! I have heard it hundreds of times and still cannot stop listening to it. It’s one of those records where every single song is so good. I will listen to one song and think “man it can’t get better than this” and then the next song comes on! He is just so insanely talented.
For more information visit Sunny's official website
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Carly Pearce was born in eastern Kentucky into a family with bluegrass roots and a deep love of music. When she was eleven, she fronted a bluegrass band and sang at churches and festivals. At the age of sixteen she moved to Pigeon Forge, TN to pursue a career in music. Carly took the time to chat with us about her journey, her music and what’s to come.
When you were sixteen you and your mom moved from Kentucky to Pigeon Forge. Talk about your time there and why you chose to go there as opposed to Nashville.
I was singing a lot of bluegrass and I wanted to challenge myself to not just stand behind one microphone; I wanted to grow into myself as a true entertainer. I auditioned to perform at Dollywood, and when I got a part, my mom and I moved there. I finished high school in between performing six shows a day, with only one day off a month. I spent one year at Dollywood and another at a theatre called Country Tonight. I loved it there and it was really hard to leave.
My time performing in Pigeon Forge was equivalent to going to college before coming to my final stop, which I always knew would be Nashville.
When did you eventually move to Nashville?
In 2009, when I was nineteen, I moved to Nashville. I got very lucky because early on, I met a songwriter through My Space and he helped me immensely by introducing me to Universal Music Publishing.
Do you think things have been moving quickly for you since arriving in Nashville?
Well, it’s a ten year town, which I never believed until I got here. There’s a reason why thousands of people move here and only a few make it. It’s hard at times because opportunities sometimes fall through, but I believe that things happen for a reason. I think I’m in a great place right now with my music and with who I want to be as an artist.
Do you think it is harder being a female in the industry?
I don’t know if it’s harder, but there is a really big gap in our market for females at the moment. However, I wouldn’t want to be a male right now because you can get lost in the shuffle. I try to focus on the music, and not gender, and hope people want to hear what I have to say.
Are you planning on releasing music soon?
I plan to release a new EP of five songs in September. I wrote the songs over the past year and they really reflect what was going on in my life. My sound has become more mature and more focused. I am twenty four years old, not married and without kids. However, I am not a huge partier, but I’m not a saint either. I feel like my music will speak to the young people who are trying to figure it all out.
With this EP, I feel like I have something that represents who I am and I am really proud of how it turned out.
You were a part of the Country Throwdown Tour in 2012. Was that your first major tour?
It was my first time on a major tour and it was amazing! I was out with Florida Georgia Line and it has been just incredible to see how far they have come in a few years.
It was so much fun to play for the crowds, meet people and make friends, but also I learned so much. I hated when it was over!
Do you have any plans to tour this year?
I play a lot in Nashville at singer songwriter venues, like the Listening Room. I am expanding my abilities and am going to be singing back up on a few upcoming performances with Lucy Hale.
What are you currently listening to?
My iPod has such a variety of music on it. I listen to everything from Keith Urban and Fleetwood Mac to Alison Krauss to Patsy Cline and Nickel Creek.
For more information visit Carly's official website
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British recording artist Jeannine Barry's blend of country and pop has been winning over fans in her native country and beyond. Her passion for music has taken her all over, including Berlin, where she met vocal coach David Lee Brewer, who has worked with numerous artists, including Beyonce. Jeannine has been performing regularly, including singing "Amazing Grace" with the Berlin Philharmonic. She graciously agreed to chat with us via email about her EP, songwriting and more.
When did you start singing and realize that music was something you wanted to do professionally?
I have always been singing and used to treat my bathroom as my stage until I had the confidence to give it a go in 2007 and auditioned for David Lee Brewer (former vocal coach of Beyonce & Desitiny's Child). When David said I was a country singer after my audition I didn't see why, but looking back now I have always loved all of the country songs that did make it across the pond and singing country just comes naturally.
I have always had the vision of making singing/writing/performing my professional career. My career is constantly evolving and heading in the direction that I want it to so I'm happy and excited to see what comes next.
You have been compared to Martina, Carrie and Emmylou. That must be extremely flattering. Do those women influence your sound?
Yes, extremely flattering!
I'd say there is quite a funny mix that influences my sound. Since I didn't grow up listening to country music a lot of my influences actually aren't country artists. What I find inspiring in other artists is usually the personality and what they stand for/what message they are trying to bring across and how real they are. Therefore, P!nk is one of my biggest influences. The way she always stays true to herself and her strength and amazing songwriting skills have inspired me very much to keep doing what I do. Other artists I like and listened to in the past are LeAnne Rimes, Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Hayden Panettiere, Dixie Chicks, Ryan Adams, amongst many others.
This past October, Jeannine released her debut EP, Give Me Something, which is available at digital retailers as well as at her live shows.
How do you approach songwriting and is it something you enjoy?
Songwriting is a huge passion of mine and something I work on all the time. I really love to write and express myself that way. I often just sit down and write on my own and come up with a melody and then get together with a musician or I sit down with my guitarist and we start with some chords. It feels like writing has become equally as important to me as singing over the last two years and whichever way I get to say what I want to say in a satisfying way I'm happy with it.
I usually write alone but am going to start writing with my guitarist, Alan. I am generally open to co-writing as I would like to see where that would take things.
A quote on your website says you put the “live” in live entertainment. What sets your live shows apart?
I wouldn't say anything puts it apart as I think it's just different with every artist, but I always do my best to be as real as I can be, to entertain and to tell a story with the songs I perform.
Country music seems to have a growing presence in England.
Country music in England is extremely exciting, especially right now! You can see with the success of the c2c event how much interest and demand for country music there is here and it is becoming more and more popular with so many events and artists popping up everywhere. I'm really glad to be part of it.
Do you have any plans to come to the states?
Oh yes! I have always wanted to go to the US. I would LOVE to go over and tour and see Nashville and of course perform there! When the time is right I will make my way over.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
To be honest, it would be right now. I've just recently had the pleasure to headline my own show at a venue called The Garage in London. I've worked so hard for so long and that was a truly amazing experience. Shortly after that, I supported Jill and Kate at the Borderline in London which is another fantastic venue. I had so much fun! It was so amazing to see and feel the support from my fans. In July I am playing 5 shows on the O2 Pop up stages in London which I'm super excited about and there is so much more coming up.
What do you want to accomplish in the remainder of 2014?
I want to finish recording my first album! I have been writing a lot this year and will continue to do so. Of course I also want to continue building my fan base and play shows. I am making plans but I am also leaving space for things to naturally develop and unfold so who knows what else is waiting for me in 2014!
Finally, is there one recent record that you cannot stop listening to?
I love that Nashville track sung by Hayden Panettiere, "Don't Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet." I'm in love with all the Nashville tracks though!
Purchase Give Me Something here
For more information visit Jeannine's official website
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Australian songstress Aleyce Simmonds is a 4 time Golden Guitar nominee whose most recent album, Believe, debuted at #7 on the Australian Country Charts. The album, personal and heartfelt, has produced the hit singles "Believe" and "Stronger." Aleyce graciously took some time to talk with us via email about honesty in her songwriting, the album and more.
Your music is well known in Australia, but for newer audiences, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a country singer/songwriter from Australia; originally from Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital. I’ve been singing since I could walk, and have been playing music professionally now for ten years.
What made you decide to pursue music professionally?
I won a competition called the Telstra Road to Tamworth in 2004. Part of the prize was to go to Nashville to record and play at the CMA fest at the Riverstage and at the Global Artist Showcase. I got a taste for the Industry and fell in love with it.....that was ten years ago!
What made you gravitate to country music?
I LOVE country music so, so much. It evokes so much emotion; it is the music of the people, especially here in Australia. Our singer/songwriters are like story tellers; telling the stories of people's experiences and life in general, as well as our beautiful Country and landscape.
Your music merges pop and country well. Who are your musical influences?
Thank you very much! My influences are Emmylou Harris, Shania Twain, an Australian legend, John Farnham, and Keith Urban; really there are too many to mention!!
Your latest album Believe was released in September 2013. Talk about the album a little bit including how personal the songs are to you.
The album is really personal. I write most of my songs in the first person so the inspiration generally comes from experiences I have had or the experiences of those close to me. The songs that are particularly special to me on this album are "Believe," "Stronger" and "Stay Gone." They represent getting through some really rough situations health and relationship wise and then getting to the other side and realizing we’re stronger for these times. "Joshua" is also special to me. It’s a song about my baby brother who would be 20 years old if God didn’t take him far too early.
Your website quotes: “But singer-songwriters have it even tougher - they must not only face their demons, but parade them for all the world to see.” How do you approach songwriting and is it something you enjoy knowing you are putting your emotions and experiences out there in public view?
I sometimes think that I’m not brave enough to write the songs that I do because it is really, really scary putting raw emotion out there for the world to listen to, and like or dislike. It’s not really something I enjoy at all but I guess I don’t know any different. Music is the most honest thing there is to me. I figure that if I am experiencing something, I should put it in a song because chances are, there are millions of others going through the same thing and hopefully the music will help them through.
Do you write alone or with co-writers?
Both. I have been doing a lot more writing on my own lately and wrote most of Believe on my own. It’s interesting how the cycle works.....sometimes I think you need to be really comfortable in your own skin and experienced in ‘life’ to write on your own. Then, there are also sometimes when I’m most vulnerable and ‘weak’ that I sit down to write on my own. It’s like therapy.
You have had much success in Australia. Do you want to bring your music to the States?
I would LOVE to go back to the states and plan to this year. My partner, Lachlan Bryan won a golden guitar in Tamworth this year which is our highest accolade over here. He’s heading over with his band in September and I hope not to be too far behind. I’m touring the UK in September, so you never know, I may get the travel bug and just keep going!!!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Being nominated for 4 Golden Guitars has been pretty special. Each time is just as exciting as the first. We don’t make music to win awards but when the music is acknowledged as being in the best released in the year, it sure is a beautiful feeling.
What do you want to accomplish in the remainder of 2014?
I hope for a successful UK tour!! I’ve just wrapped up my band tour here in Australia and will re-commence that in October when I get home; so I can’t wait for that to begin again! I’ve almost written a new album too, so hopefully I’ll hit the studio before 2014 is out.
Finally, is there one recent record you cannot stop listening to?
Oh, so many. I LOVE Leann Rimes Spitfire album.....can’t get enough. Also, my friend Amber Lawrence is about to release an album over here (her fourth) and it’s amazing. It hasn’t left my CD player since she gave me an advance copy.
For more information visit her official website
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Watch "Believe" below.