Exclusive: Dave Cobb Settles In After Move To RCA Studio A

Pictured (L-R): Craig Shelburne, Dave Cobb, Sherod Robertson. Photo: Moments by Moser

Pictured (L-R): Craig Shelburne, Dave Cobb, Sherod Robertson. Photo: Moments by Moser

Dave Cobb has hit his stride in Nashville, moving to Music City after spending nearly 11 years in Los Angeles. Artists like Chris Stapleton, A Thousand Horses, Jason Isbell, Jamey Johnson and Sturgill Simpson put him on track to win awards, including 2016 MusicRow Producer of the Year.

Read more about Cobb’s 2016 win with the magazine in the latest MusicRow Awards print issue, available now.

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MusicRow: Before Chris Stapleton’s 2015 CMA Awards sweep, you told us that you hadn’t yet felt a part of the Nashville establishment. Do you more at home with your recent success?
Dave Cobb: I’m humbled by it all. It’s such a prestigious thing—so much history with MusicRow magazine, and Music Row in general. There are no words to be in RCA A on Music Row and to be embraced by the industry. It’s beyond any wildest dream I could have had. I’m very happy to start and be part of the community and I’d love to help other people wherever I can. I definitely feel welcomed.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know everybody. I had been just in the back of my house in a little studio and didn’t really get out. I love getting to know people and who they are and feel happy to be part of the community.

Dave Cobb accepts 2016 MusicRow Producer of the Year. Photo: Moments by Moser

Dave Cobb accepts 2016 MusicRow Producer of the Year. Photo: Moments by Moser

Have you enjoyed your RCA Studio A move?
You walk in everyday humbled by who came before you. You feel the history and it inspires songs and playing. … It has become a clubhouse. Chris Stapleton came in and played on an Anderson East record I was working on just because. He called up and had some extra time. All these people just stop by. They befriend each other and feels like a great community here. It’s a really special place.

On July 29, Lori McKenna’s CN Records project you produced will be released. Can you tell us about that project?
Lori is one of my favorite songwriters ever. I love her voice. It was a pleasure to work with her—she’s an amazing human being. She’s got such good wit with a pen. It was so enjoyable to hear her everyday. She’s a master class in songwriting. Seeing that everyday and seeing her bring in new songs everyday kinda shocked us all. She’s got so much emotion and heartfelt lyrics. I can’t wait for people to hear it.

Lori and her management/label had a really good grasp on who she was coming into the project. I benefited greatly from that. All I did was show up and make the record. The song choice was mostly done prior to the studio. We recorded it in the back of my house, prior to me moving into RCA Studio A.

Also in RCA Studio A is where you operate Low Country Sound, your label and publishing company. 
It’s amazing. I’m really, really happy with my partners and team with Atlantic/Elektra and now Warner/Chappell in Nashville. It’s great to be able to find an artist you feel passionate about and have a team of support around to run with it and try to make the record a success. Before I would make a record and hope someone would pay attention to it. Now we have a really solid team and great strategic plans.

On the publishing side with Warner/Chappell, we have Aaron Raitiere and Adam Hood, with another signing to be announced soon. [A third signing, Charlie Pate, was announced on Thursday.] So now if there’s a void on a record for an artist I sign, we can go find the right song to finish the record. It’s picking up where all the great labels left off—Stax, Muscle Shoals, Motown. They all had facilities for writers interacting with the artists as well. It’s a little bit of a one-stop shop, in a good way.

As far as staff, we have Ben Vaughn [Executive Vice President] at Warner/Chappell, who handles the publishing side, and New York handles the label side. The writers are here with offices upstairs in RCA Studio A. So there’s a lot of synergy with the writers upstairs and the studio downstairs. But Adam and Aaron have been getting cuts and are a little bit left of center with the way they write and sing. They follow similar principles that I do.

Now that your wheels are off the ground, what’s next?
It’s been great to do something like Southern Family. Who in their right mind would OK that to happen? It sounds like a nightmare to get all those artists lined up, but they were up for the task. It’s amazing to have this creative freedom.

There’s a film being made right now with Southern Family that may be out before next year. It’s a bit of a process and we want to make it right—something lasting and meaningful. But there is probably not a second volume coming anytime soon. That’s a huge hill to climb. I’m really happy with what we have.

Right now I’m [producing] Old Crow Medicine Show. Their record is really incredible. I’m really into the band and the record. I’m just taking my time to find things that I’m crazy about. When those people cross my path, we act on it.

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] @EricTParker

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