Country music is a genre that is now growing rapidly far beyond its spiritual home of Nashville, Tennessee. Europe and the UK specifically are almost like a shiny new toy that people wanting to try out but on the other side of the world is another emerging frontier where the genre is making huge strides. Artists like Keith Urban, Morgan Evans, Nikita Karmen and Seaforth in Nashville have put Australian artists onto the map and equally the domestic scene down under is on the rise.
One of the most exciting artists to rise on this scene is Brad Cox. Originally from Jindabyne in the NSW snowy mountains, about 6 hours south of Sydney, Cox first came to attention after winning the Toyota Star Maker competition at the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival and his acclaimed self-titled debut album that followed.
Since then he has caught the attention of Sony, who he released his sophomore album and major label debut “My Minds Projection” through at the back end of 2020. The Matt Fell produced album which Cox wrote or co-wrote each of the eleven tracks, has already produced a pair of number one country radio singles in Australia and streaming numbers well in the millions. Jamie recently hung out with Brad over Zoom to learn more about his infectious blend of country rock infused with rhythm and blues, along with having a picture painted about the genre on the other side of the world.
On releasing an album during a global pandemic: “It’s been pretty different. It’s hard for me to compare to, my first record was released independently and this is my first major label release so it’s hard for me to know what would be different just from the releasing a record point of view with a big company behind you rather than putting it out on your own. Obviously, the touring side of it’s hard and when you do put out a record, it’s a pretty good indication from playing live to see how the fans are reacting at the shows. Everybody is in the same boat where we are deprived of that at the moment, but it felt good to get it out, this record was one of those things that I’ve been working on for a few years and I couldn’t sit on it any longer. You can make it as perfect as you want one month and the next month you will be making all these changes but your also evolving as a human so it was definitely time to put a bookend in it as the record is done and I can get working on the next project.”
On the writing and recording process for creating “My Minds Projection”: “I started writing songs for this project before the first record was even released, so it’s been a good two and a half years working on it. I didn’t go into the studio for two or three weeks to record the album, I did it in blocks with a few days here, a week there over eighteen months, going back in to do vocals or changing this, so it was quite a drawn-out process. Saying that it felt like an organic growth process for this album, but I think the next one will be different. I’ll have my songs together, go into the studio and record it but for me as an artist it was good to do that natural fixing, changing, redoing kind of process to really get my head around it, until it got to the point where it was going on too long and I need to finish this!”
On the pressures of the “difficult second album”: “With Sony jumping on board and all of that kind of stuff, it almost felt like the first record again. I didn’t feel pressure, especially with the fact that COVID hit. This record was supposed to come out early last year and with what happened, it got pushed back so it kind of took away that second album kind of pressure and urgency that a lot of people deal with, through the situation that it was. I didn’t do too badly with the stressing that theses songs had to be as good or do as well as the last one, but it felt pretty good timing wise to get this one out.” On writing for this record with co-writers in both Nashville and Australia: “My Nashville writing trips only started at the tail end of writing this record so there’s only one or two from over there. I know I wrote “Drinking Season” with Dan Isbell who’s obviously a huge guy with the number one song at the moment for four weeks and is a monster writer over there. Other than that, a lot of the co-writes on this record are a lot of my pals and band members, so like my local clan but the next project that I’m working on now has a lot of heavier hitters from the Nashville writing scene.”
On the growth of country music in Australia and how it is impacting the mainstram market down there: “I had a lot of success with commercial rock radio stations nationally with one of the singles off this record “Give Me Tonight” which was a huge win for myself and country music. I’m not saying that’s the only time that it’s ever been done, though it’s been very rare, but it’s becoming more of a thing. It’s definitely still a small community of country music fans in Australia but they’re definitely passionate and the type of fans who’s one mission is to get more people to love country music, so it is growing quite quickly at the same time. It feels like a really exciting time to be a part of country music in Australia, which I would feel is probably the same in Europe. It’s definitely not quite commercial and mainstream but there’s becoming pockets of success in that space for country music artists.”
On the impact for new Australian artists on the back of worldwide success for artists like Keith Urban & Morgan Evans along with country artists being exposed to fans of other genres: “Definitely! One hundred percent! I don’t think there is any negative impact whatsoever from those guys and those songs being in those commercial spaces. Someone else, old guys who are a little bit more traditionally leaning might say different but if you’re doing the same thing forever then what’s exciting in life? I think it’s really cool and having a really positive impact, especially for young artists and breakthrough artists starting out to know that it’s possible. People that might have a heart in country music but a passion for pop know there is kind of a path that could be paved in the next five to ten years. Then having those pop artists like Justin Bieber on the Dan + Shay track and Pink with Keith Urban, they know country music is a huge market and that people who love pop and rock have a space for country in their playlists, it’s just about marrying them up at the right time and making it happen. I’m all for it and I really love it!”
On what he is aware of about the genre in Europe and the desire to get over here in the future: “I see the C2C festival and what is going on with that is a lot similar to what’s happened here in the last ten years with CMC Rocks. Getting those huge headline American artists in front of crowds and being such a successful event, I think has a lot of roll on. My view on success is being successful in all regions of the world. Europe, Canada, Asia and Australia are all huge up and coming country markets and I want to be a part of it. On Europe, I want to get over there, there was talk of getting over for a support slot to happen last year but obviously that didn’t happen so fingers crossed, somebody can jab me in the arm with some chemicals and I can get over there soon. I’ve not been anywhere near Europe before, I’ve been to Asia and to America a bunch of times. It wasn’t until the year before last when a mate of mine went to Italy for a few weeks and thought that looks so sick and I started looking into it, then I wanting to go and be a tourist. I want to go and play shows, see different cultures that are so close together and it looks awesome. I haven’t been there but hopefully soon, I want to come to play shows but also to drink beer and see sights too!”
On the effect the pandemic has had on being an artist in Australia: “It’s really strange, I was writing with some guys in Nashville yesterday and I was saying I only know one person who has had COVID and he was in London when he got it. I actually don’t know anyone else that has had it let alone died from it or been affected from a health point of view. As much as it’s frustrating and annoying, we’re doing really well here. I’ve just had two beers at the local pub so I feel very lucky to be here at the moment from that aspect for sure. I think our government levelled out all the mess ups in the last few months and they’ve got it pretty down packed now. It’s a strange time but again as frustrating as it has been with the lockups and stuff, if I wanted to play a gig tomorrow to half the amount of people in a room, I could do that. There are a lot of musos and a lot of road crew that can’t, so we’re really lucky here at the moment. The festival at Tamworth was cancelled and CMC has been too, but we’ve got tour plans for pretty much all of the country this year. It’s one of those things that as the goalposts keep moving, you have to keep adjusting a little, but fingers crossed by the end of the year we’ll be playing fairly extensive tours.” On collaborating to write songs over Zoom: “My take on it is that I hate it because I’m such a person’s person, I love being in the same room as people but saying that, I love the fact that I can be sitting in my house in central Queensland and can still work with some of the best writers in the world in Nashville. I’ve found that people who I don’t know or haven’t worked with before, it’s been a struggle to write with those guys on Zoom but I’ve been spending so much time over there in the past that there’s guys I’m friends with and worked with a lot in the last couple of years so that’s just like jumping on Zoom with your pals which is very different to writing a song in that way with a stranger or someone that you are trying to get to know through the internet. There are definitely good and bad aspects of it, but I would much rather be on a plane heading over there to write songs in person for two weeks. It works out alright but most of my sessions have been at around ten in the morning here so six in the evening there for the Nashville guys so sometimes I’m drinking coffee and those guys are already on the cocktails. It seems to work out all right, so that’s the beauty of having a great management team and publishing company is that they organize it all for me and I jump on at ten o’clock then someone turns up on the other end.”
On further plans for releasing more new music: “I’m slowly finding that working on a record is a long-term thing. I started working on my next record months before “My Minds Projection” came out. I’m not a three hundred songs a year kind of guy, I’ve got three sessions a week for the next couple of months and that’s my writing kind of space. Then I may get out of it and go back into touring for a few months, but I don’t feel any urgency on getting the next one out, also because I haven’t had the chance to tour this record, it feels like an unfinished chapter. I want to put these songs on the road then if the next record is done and the time is right, I would drop it the next week.”
On his introduction to country music and his musical influences: “It just happened organically, when I was probably twelve or thirteen years old and started hanging out with a lot of friends that lived on country, had cattle and riding dirt bikes. They were all into country music which is where I found my passion for it, I just connected with the telling stories of the lifestyle that I was living with my friends on the weekends around the paddocks. In terms of influences, particularly for this record came from the heavier writer’s side of things like Chris Stapleton. I still have this huge fascination with Sturgill Simpson, his style of writing and his style of production then Tyler Childers and a heap of dudes like that too is like the production and writing influence. My musical influences when I first got into country music was with the heavy guitar band like Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert, which was what drew me in to country music so somewhere between all of that, I just wedge myself in there.”
My Minds Projection (Produced, Engineered and Mixed by Matt Fell) 1. Hold Me Back - Brad Cox, Joe Mungovan 2. Drinking Season - Brad Cox, Dan Isbell 3. Short Lived Loved - Brad Cox 4. Remedy (Feat. Adam Eckersley) - Brad Cox 5. My Mind's Projection - Brad Cox, Jackson Besley 6. Wasted Time - Brad Cox, Jackson Besley 7. Thought I Knew Love - Brad Cox, Dan Isbell, Randy Montana 8. Give Me Tonight - Brad Cox, Joe Mungovan 9. I Keep Driving - Brad Cox, Joe Mungovan, Alyssa Trahan 10. Caught In a Noose By a Stranger - Brad Cox, Joe Mungovan 11. I Still Want More - Brad Cox, Joe Mungovan “My Mind’s Projection” the latest from Brad Cox is out now and you can listen HERE then learn more about Brad and keep up to date with him on FacebookInstagramTwitter.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks