Cody Johnson poured a lot of hard work into his latest album, Ain't Nothin' to It. The project is being released in an unprecedented partnership with Warner Bros. and his own CoJo Records, after Johnson made it clear that he was going to make his own music on his own terms.
"Due to the fact that it was recorded independently before we made our merger with Warner, I wanted this album to be out in October," Johnson told PopCulture.com. "Whenever the album was finished, we felt like we had a good enough product, my manager Howie [Edelman] really honestly was the flag flyer on this deal. He's like, 'We should shop this around.' And I said, 'Man, I'm not gonna give somebody a piece of a pie they didn't help me make.' That was my attitude."
Ultimately, other people on Johnson's team convinced him his record, which was his seventh, was good enough to begin discussing with record labels – with a few stipulations.
"I said, 'Look man, if you're wanting to do this, let's go shop it. You know how I feel about keeping my masters and my publishing, and my creative control. And I'm not gonna discuss my image, that's non-negotiable. I'm not taking my hat off to try to please the powers at be.' And God had a funny way of working, because we wound up with a 50-50 groundbreaking deal with Warner."
Already Johnson, who had a busy touring schedule in his native Texas and beyond while still an independent artist, is seeing how being part of a record label can help his career, and expects much more now that Ain't Nothin' to It is out.
"I think that now looking back, this album would not have near the exposure, it wouldn't have near the intensity, and the drive behind it [without a label], Johnson conceded. "And that was the part of the deal that we really needed them for. We need you, not for tour dates, not for other things. We need you to use your power for what we lack in.
"And in turn, we've been able to kind of really work with them and show them some things on our touring side – how it worked for us," he continued. "It's been such a great, great relationship and a great partnership. I really feel like this album is gonna go light years ahead of what it was with them behind it."
Johnson had several careers, including as a rodeo professional and prison guard, before devoting himself to music full-time – a choice he might have never made without his wife, Brandi.
"She's it," Johnson boasted. "She's what turned my life around. When I met her I was a really, really fouled up young man. I thought that I was just supposed to be a bad-ass for the rest of my life, and I had an ego about a mile wide. And she broke it down in a really good way. Just when I met her, the night I met her I knew that that's the woman that I'm supposed to spend the rest of my life with. And I also knew that I wasn't gonna be able to do it living the way I was living. Not because she asked me to change, I just respected her that much. I knew that all of my B.S. was done.
"And she believes in me like I don't," he continued. "I met her and my manager Howie around the same time, and they both had more belief in me at the time than I did. And it really helped shape me into the man I am. I've still got a long way. I ain't perfect. I mean, by no means am I a perfect husband or a perfect guy. But she's made me better."
It was Brandi who convinced Johnson to focus on music, quitting school and taking on two jobs so he devote himself fully to his music career.
"She's been with me every step of the way,' Johnson said. "And it's really encouraging.
Johnson, who is also the proud father to two young girls, might be spending most of the next few months on the road, supporting Ain't Nothin' to It, but his wife and children will always be his first priority.
"If it came down to all the money, and all the crowds, and all the music, and all the what could be a very successful career – if it came to them or that, I'd pick them," Johnson stated. "No doubt. I'd rather be poor with my family than rich without them."0comments
Purchase Ain't Nothin' to It at Johnson's official website.
Photo Credit: Getty Images:/Nicholas Hunt