Are you a fan of real, honest, well-written Texas country music? If so, the Cody Sparks Band has you “Covered.”
After making a great introduction with their debut album, “Sinners and the Saved,” the Cody Sparks Band upped the ante with their newest release, the “4th of July” EP.
Read below to learn all about Cody Sparks’ influences, releasing music for the first time, the stories behind some of the songs on the “4th of July” EP, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Cody Sparks: I would have to say that my biggest musical influence growing up would have to start with my Dad. He recorded a few gospel records back in 80s, and I’ve always thought that was cool. After him, it falls into more of the Texas music scene with Pat Green and Reckless Kelly.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
CS: I don’t think there was ever that one shining moment where I knew that I wanted to do this for a living. I started playing because I enjoyed it and that turned into a passion. I moved down here to Austin to give it a shot because I knew I would regret it if I never tried. It’s pretty uncommon these days for people to make a living doing something they love.
PC: Did you feel any pressure- internally or externally, when the band was recording the “Sinners and the Saved” album? Is it at all nerve-wracking when recording/releasing music for the first time?
CS: Absolutely! I think that there is always pressure when putting something pretty personal that comes from your heart out for the world to hear. The studio part of it was fun. It’s really great seeing one of your songs come together from paper to being fully done. Now, the release part was more of a nerve-wracking situation. You get to the point when everything is done, but you’re still second guessing little decisions. You wonder how everyone is going to receive the new project on so many levels.
PC: “Covered” and “No Time” were two songs that really caught on from “Sinners and the Saved.” What does it mean to you personally, as a songwriter and as an artist, to see people interacting with your songs in that way on your debut record?
CS: It always makes you feel good when people can relate to your songs. It makes you feel like you’re doing something right. These were two songs that we pushed pretty hard on the radio and were really happy with the responses.
PC: The song “4th of July” is one of the real standouts not only on the new EP, but across both albums. The song paints a pretty vivid picture of a heartbreak. Was this song based on a real-life experience? If so, is it awkward at all to let people into your life in that way?
CS: It’s loosely based on my experiences with heartbreak, but not really one situation in particular. I have a few songs that are more directly based on real life experiences and others that I just got an idea and went with it. It’s not awkward for me to write songs about personal experiences because I think those are the best and those have been the ones most well received.
PC: “13 Folds” is the newest single on the “4th of July” EP. What has been the response so far? Have you gotten any feedback from veterans or their family members? If so, what does that feedback mean to you?
CS: The response has been phenomenal. Actually, this song was written about a guy I went to high school with that went to Iraq right out of school and didn’t make it back home. “13 Folds” are the memories I have from his funeral services. His family gave us their blessing before we released this song and that meant the world to me that they approved.
PC: Do you sense that you’ve grown as an artist and/or as a songwriter between “Sinners and the Saved” and the “4th of July” EP? Where have you seen the most noticeable difference?
CS: Yes, I’ve grown for sure. Listening to my first song I wrote, “Set in the West”, compared to something like “4th of July” shows a big difference. I’ve learned to be more literal with my writing. Also, in the studio, I was way more decisive the second go ‘round!
PC: Both of the band’s releases feature a variety of different sounds, with an underlying theme of traditional country through the lyrics and melodies. Was it at all important to you in the recording/release of these albums to have some versatility in the band’s sound?
CS: Country is always going to be the root of our sound, but I hardly ever put a specific style cap on a song I’m writing. It’s always really interesting to hear how the band takes to the song and what they come up with in their parts.
PC: You’ve had some great success in fairly rapid succession at this early point in the band’s career. To what do you attribute this momentum the band has achieved?
CS: Well, it sometimes doesn’t seem that rapid when you’re in it! But yes, in the grand scheme, we’ve made some substantial strides. I think it’s been important for us to play as many shows as we can and also opening for some bigger artists.
PC: You recently opened up for Tracy Byrd, as well as Jerry Jeff Walker, Casey Donahew, among others. What can you take away from opening for artists of that caliber who have had their levels of success?
CS: Everything! I try to take as much as I can from all of them. From their attitudes, their songs, their live performances, their marketing, their touring organization. I try to pay attention to what seems like is working for them and what seems like didn’t work so well. Aaron Watson gave me some of the best advice pretty early on in my career. He said that the ones that really stick it out and keep pushing through are the ones that make it. It’s a really tough industry and it takes a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance.
PC: What plans do you have for the near future?
CS: I’m really trying to focus on keeping my writing going at a steady pace. The busier we get, the more overwhelming it is for me. Our main goal right now is to get on with a booking agency. That would take us to the next level in the direction we’re trying to go.