Whether or not you know who he is, you’ve definitely heard Dave Cobb’s handiwork.
The in-demand producer and collaborator has worked with Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson and a litany of other huge country stars.
His next project, the anthology concept album Southern Family, features collaborations from many of the above artists plus a few more, like Miranda Lambert and Zac Brown.
Before you listen to Southern Family, though, here’s 10 things you might not have known about the producer.
1. He grew up Pentecostal
Cobb’s grandmother was a minister in the church, and he grew up playing drums and taking guitar lessons in the church as a young boy.
2. He used to be a session player in Atlanta
Cobb played in a Brit-fronted band called Tender Idols for seven years, from 2004-2011. The band released three albums, one of which Cobb produced. This gave him his first taste of being at the controls in the studio.
3. He started collaborating with Shooter Jennings, which then led to him working with The Oak Ridge Boys
Cobb considers Jennings to be a part of his family, and with good reason. They met through Cobb’s manager in 2005, and they’ve been collaborating ever since. Following their first album together, Put The “O” Back in Country, Jennings introduced Cobb to the Oak Ridge Boys.
Jennings persuaded the band to let Cobb produce their album The Boys Are Back, which found the traditional group improvising and riffing on stuff like “Seven Nation Army” and “Beautiful Bluebird.”
4. He met Sturgill Simpson at a Billy Joe Shaver concert, where they talked about working together.
Cobb then became the producer for High Top Mountain and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Once in the studio, it took them four days to record all of Metamodern, famously sticking to analog production techniques.
5. His wife is from Albania
He met her while on tour with The Tender Idols. The two have one daughter together and he’s been very private about his personal life in interviews.
6. He owns a record label in Nashville
It’s called Low Country Sounds and it’s partnered with Elektra Records. The major label imprint is located in the Green Hills neighborhood. In April, Cobb will also take up a working residence at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A.
7. He has produced more than 40 albums with a variety of different artists
Shooter Jennings, Whiskey Myers, Jamey Johnson, Corb Lund, Anderson East, Finger Eleven, Chris Cornell… the man has a wide range.
8. He is originally from Savannah, GA
Cobb attended the Cottage School in Roswell.
9. He didn’t always want to work in country music, but it was Jason Isbell that persuaded him
Or rather, Isbell’s music. Cobb recalls hearing a Drive-By Truckers song that struck him to the core, and he knew he had to work with Isbell.
“Maybe with age I started getting more into lyrics. I think when I was a kid I didn’t care about lyrics,” he told NPR in an interview. “I only cared about melody and a feeling, and I think the older I got—you know, when I heard “Outfit” by Drive-By Truckers, lyrically it crushed me to the core. It was like everything that you are kind of surrounded by growing up in the Southeast. Isbell was definitely the first guy that got me — he just hits it, you know? I definitely wanted to chase him down and find a way to work with him.
“So lyrics drove me to country music, and I think maybe what I wanted to do is to find a way to make country records feel like all the other records I adored, but with those lyrics. And voice. I’m always looking for a voice.”
10. Southern Family came about as a way for him to explore what it would be like to put the Southern experience on record.
Cobb has given multiple interviews about how this project is all about the feeling of family never leaving you, and about the sort of family of collaborators he has built over the years.
“It’s everybody writing personal songs about their family growing up in the south,” he told Rolling Stone. “And the second bigger concept is taking all these talented artists and putting them all together.”
Southern Family is scheduled for a March 18 release date.