Thad Cockrell


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Singer/songwriter Thad Cockrell recently released To Be Loved, his first full-length solo album in six years. Cockrell spoke with American Songwriter about the evolution of the new album, growing up a preacher’s son and who’s on his iPod.

It seems that the newest record, “To Be Loved,” has a bit of history behind it. What went into making this record?

These songs were written because I needed to hear them for myself. They were songs I needed to sing and ultimately songs I felt very compelled to write. As for the recording of them, it has been a labor of love to say the least. All of the money to make the EP and then to extend it into a full-length record has been gifted. It has been quite humbling and really exciting to be a part of something that others feel ownership in on an emotional level.

When we gave out the EP at a show a few years back there was an immediate buzz about it and it struck a nerve with fans and also within the industry. After sorting through the different offers from major and independent labels, we realized it wasn’t really the right timing. Jason Lehning and I regrouped and went back in and cut the rest of the record with the same band and turned it into a full-length album. When I moved back to Raleigh, it made it a little more difficult logistically, so it took a while to get it all finished. It really feels great to finally release it and let it do its own thing.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

It’s music I hear in my head and it comes from lots of different places. I grew up listening to classic country music, pop music (U2, The Cure and tons of other stuff), gospel music and I think over time it all comes out in some weird way. I always think it’s more interesting to get someone else’s take on it rather than my own. I suppose when it comes down to it I am influenced by songs much more than I am by other artists.

I know your dad was a preacher; are you religious? Is music the outlet for that?

I am not religious and I don’t think of my music as an outlet for my faith in more than taking out the trash. I don’t really compartmentalize. I am who I am and hopefully that comes through in whatever I do. I’m sure if my faith were scrutinized on any level my failures would be quite apparent. I want to start a conversation and feel that happens best by being honest and transparent.

How did growing up in the South affect what you write today?

I didn’t really grow up in the South. I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and then moved to Tampa, Florida when I was ten. I don’t consider Florida the South, but I am sure it has had some effect on me though I haven’t spent much time defining how. I would say growing up a preacher’s kid was much more influential. It was a study in people from all different walks and socioeconomic levels. I could go on and on but that wasn’t your question.

You recently did a spot on Lightning 100. Tell me some of your thoughts on Nashville’s support of local musicians.

I think the music scene in Nashville is second to none. I also think the public support and also the support of Lighting is a blessing. Having a local station that is inclusive is a rare thing.

Who’s on your iPod these days?

Roman Candle, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Kings Of Leon, Glenn Campbell, Sam Cooke, Courtney Jaye, Jessie Baylin, Keegan Dewitt, Aretha, Camera Obscura, Skeeter Davis, Joy Williams, Milton Nascimento, Willie and lots more.

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