AAL: Good morning Cody, where am I catching you at today?
Cody: At home actually, I’m flying out tonight to meet the bus in Oklahoma and then we’re heading to Wakeeny, KS first and then we’ll head over to Wichita for the show there Saturday.
AAL: I was looking at your tour schedule and saw that you’ll be in Wakeeny, KS tomorrow and I’ll be honest, I’m from Kansas and I don’t even know where that’s at (laughs).
Cody: (laughing) Well most people don’t even know where it’s at.
AAL: Looks like you’ll be playing at a fair there, that should be good one, outdoor shows are always good.
Cody: Oh yeah, the atmosphere of a fair or festival or rodeo other than being a little hot, it’s always a pretty good time.
AAL: I like to take it way back with artists and introduce fans to the early years. When was it that you first got into country music?
Cody: Ever since I was little. It was one of those things that was always in my life, music period but gospel music is what I grew up on with my parents at church. From my first band in high school and listening to Garth Brooks, playing music on my tailgate at the rodeos, that’s what really got me playing music. But what got me into country music professionally and got me thinking about country music as a career only happened about six years ago. I had no clue until then. I wasn’t even trying to do this for a living I was just doing it because all the girls thought it was cool (laughs). And then I met my wife and she did think it was cool too.
AAL: Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Cody: My parents influenced me musically a lot because they taught me how to play and they taught me how to sing. But people like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard on the radio and Glenn Campbell were big influences to me. Even closer to home level are guys that I’m closer to the same age as like Randy Rogers and Aaron Watson and people like that who really influence me. It’s guys like that who have really made me feel like I could do this. It’s pretty cool when you know someone like Randy who’s not too far off from your age and you’re going man he’s pretty successful I want to be like this guy. They give you hope. But growing up it was basically whatever I could get my hands on from the radio.
AAL: Let’s talk about your new album Gotta Be Me which comes out next Friday, August 5. That’s a big day for you as well as my daughter, she turns 16! But it’s your 6th album, how excited are you for this one to be released?
Cody: Oh that’s awesome, good for her! Man I’m pretty excited about the album release. This was supposed to have been out in May but we kept pushing it back for this and that but luckily everything happens for a reason and it was just the right timing and we finally decided on August 5. But I am extremely excited to have this thing out. I feel that I’ve put forth the most effort that I’ve ever put out on a record, not that I didn’t put out effort before but it’s probably taken the most effort from me to finish this project. It was one of those projects that there was a lot of detail that went into it and there was a lot of tedious choices that we made just to make this album what it is and I just can’t wait until August 5, I’m counting down the days!
AAL: How was the writing and producing process on this album different than your last ones? I know Trent Willmon produced your last two albums, was he a part of Gotta Be Me as well?
Cody: Me and Trent stuck to our guns with this one. I don’t know what’s different about it specifically because there’s a lot that stayed the same but you don’t want to stay stale either. It’s one of those things that I think what’s different is the variation of songs. You can listen to this album from top to bottom and you can tell who my influences are, you can hear those different pieces of the puzzle. But it doesn’t get away from who I am either so I think the one thing that maybe made this project take a bit longer was the writing process. We took a lot longer to choose songs, took a lot longer to write songs and really acted as if there wasn’t any deadline and that drove my manager crazy (laughs) but, we wanted it to feel natural and wanted all the songs to complement each other rather than just being a bunch of songs on a record.
AAL: I have listened to your album a few times through now and I can definitely hear the variety of songs that you speak of so I can attest that the hard work you put in to making this album great is there. I think your fans will receive it very well. You have some big shoes to fill though as your last album Cowboy Like Me, which you released in 2014 debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country Albums chart.
Cody: Thank you. Yeah, that’s one of those things that I’m constantly trying to do is set the bar higher for myself and sometimes I’m my own worst enemy (laughs) but it’s what pushes me to work hard and be a better artist everyday
AAL: Your current single is “With You I Am,” is it safe to say that your wife was the influence behind that song?
Cody: You know all three of us that wrote that song, me and Trent Willmon and David Lee, we were all kinda thinking about our wives on that one. That song has a lot of relatability because it doesn’t really matter what the one thing is or who the one is that makes you feel that way, that makes you feel like you’re better with them. But for us three guys that were writing that song that day in the room it was definitely our better halves.
AAL: It’s definitely a beautiful song and will be a fan favorite for sure. What will be your next single to be released from the new album?
Cody: You know I’m not really sure yet. We’re kinda letting this thing create itself in the sense that “With You I Am” was not at all my first choice off of this album believe it or not the minute we recorded it the song kind of demanded itself to be the first song. You hear the production of it and then when you get to hear a live version of it and you get to hear the fans sing it and you see their reaction, it’s just a really cool thing. So, I think the next one is still up in the air.
AAL: Let’s talk about your tour. You’ve been out on the road for a while now and will continue through the end of September. It can be tough being out on the road for long periods of time, what are the things that keep you healthy or grounded while you tour?
Cody: Well I like to work out a lot. I do CrossFit with a buddy of mine here at home. On the road I go to the hotel gyms or wherever I can to get away and get a workout in. That’s what keeps me going and feeling good. But what keeps me grounded is my family, no ifs ands or buts about it. Getting home and taking out the trash, getting along the fence line and doing work, getting on the tractor, or hanging out with my wife and daughter. Being a family man and getting to church, that’s definitely what keeps me grounded. I know the website shows a drop off on the tour dates at the end of September but I’ll actually be on the road through the end of the year. I’ll have a little bit of time off here and there but you know that’s just my life. My wife and I we’ve been trying to get this thing down to science for many years and that’s just the way it is. Once you’ve been home you never really want to leave but it’s how I provide at the end of the day.
AAL: If there’s one thing you could share with your fans that they may not know about you, what would it be?
Cody: (laughing) That’s a hard one, but I’ll tell you I can do the Carlton dance from Fresh Prince of Bel Air pretty good, maybe people should know that about me!
AAL: Awesome! (laughing) We’ll be looking for that to be a part of the show on Saturday here at the Cotillion in Wichita.
Cody: I don’t know about that; it would probably take a quite a few shots to make that happen (laughing)
AAL: One last thing Cody, do you have any charities that you contribute to or any projects that you are a part of in your community?
Cody: We actually have a show here in Huntsville, TX that we do every year called the Hometown Throwdown Music Festival. It donates to a scholarship fund that we started in my buddies’ name, Cole Pegoda, who passed away a few years ago. Last year we were able to donate almost $30,000 to this scholarship foundation and we’re in our second year of it now. Aside from that I like to donate to Helping Hands for Christmas. Instead of buying each other so many gifts in my family we have been adopting a child and buying for them. It’s a very rewarding thing to not have as many presents under the tree but knowing that other people do because of that.
AAL: Very awesome work on your end. Well, safe travels out there on the road as you make your way to Kansas and throughout the rest of your tour and I look forward to catching your show Saturday.
Cody: Thank you, and thank you very much for your time today, we’ll see you Saturday. Tell your daughter Happy Birthday next Friday!
Interview by: Sara Meek