A few months ago I caught Shane Smith and the Saints at the Tap in College Station. Before the show Tim Allen (SSATS lead guitarist), walked across the bar with a big smile on his face, and was excited to talk about his recent tenure in the producer’s chair. He told me he had a really good project going with an up-and-comer named Cody Sparks. “Just wait ’till you hear him” Allen told me. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long as Sparks was also opening for them that night.
I ordered my beer, took a seat at the bar by the stage and waited for the show to start. The Perryton, Texas native walked on stage and told the crowd he’d “be playing some tunes off of his upcoming record…if that was alright” and of course no one objected. Sparks plugged in and within minutes had the normally noisy crowd, engaged and focused. With it being our first opportunity to hear him, the smooth tunes and intriguing songwriting, peaked our interest and definitely has us curious as to how his sound would come out in the studio.
We received the record, “Sinners and the Saved”, a few weeks ago, and we were ecstatic to hear that it was exactly what we had hoped for! The album packs some powerfully moving tracks complete with heartbreak, family, trouble, and love. This is one hell of debut album, and pushed him up big time on our radar! The album is out on iTunes, Spotify, etc… and we suggest you grab a copy there or at his Album Release Party!
We had the opportunity to chat with Sparks about the band, the new record, and life on the road. Here’s what he had to say:
Texas Music Pickers: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Cody Sparks: I’m a small town kid from the Panhandle of Texas. Born and raised in Perryton…… The Wheat Heart of the Nation. Grew up playing sports and going to church. Thought I was gonna be a coach, but then I discovered this thing called a guitar. I was playing college football and in the off-season I ended up being very bored. Looking back, I should have been studying… but anyways, I got a cruddy fender acoustic for Christmas that year, but it was beautiful to me. Taught myself to play and just fell in love. I actually did try coaching for a bit, but just couldn’t get my mind off music. Decided to make a go of it, so my brother, Seth, (our drummer) and myself packed up and moved to Austin. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve made a lot of progress and some good friends.
TMP: Who would you describe as musical influences?
CS: I think being born and raised in a small Texas town most definitely set me up for country music. Artists such as The Eagles, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson go way back before I was even born, but their music just withstands time. Of course, The King……. George Strait has had a major impact on my music. I really admire how he’s kept his same style for all these years. The people who really got me started listening to the Texas/Red Dirt music scene are Pat Green, Reckless Kelly, Cody Canada and Stoney Larue. Those guys really pulled me in. I can still remember hearing “Wave on Wave” for the first time many years ago and it opened my eyes to this beautiful thing called Texas country music.
TMP: How would you describe your style of music?
CS: Texas, rock, and Americana. Honestly, that is straight out of a radio guy’s mouth. Describing my style of music is difficult for me because I just like to write about what I’m thinking or feeling and then come up with the full band feel with the guys later. Adding lead guitar player Michael Matthews to the group really solidified our Texas country sound with his chicken-pickin style.
TMP: Tell us about the new album, “Sinners and the Saved”.
CS: This is a goal that we had been working towards for a while. Some of the songs on this album have been written for years, others are a bit newer. We finally got to a point where we felt confident that we had enough quality material that people would listen to and actually enjoy! This album really tells a story if you listen close. The song order reflects the journey of my actual life…… From Oklahoma Fool about high school days and friendships to falling in love, family, heartbreak and leading to good times like Stilly.
TMP: Tell us what you haven lined up for your Album Release Party.
CS: The album release party is gonna be a barn burner! We are really looking forward to this one. It’s at Wild West in Cedar Park on April 7th. This is a great opportunity for people to get their hands on a hard copy of the new record. We’ll have some new merch on hand as well as a few never before heard songs.
TMP: If you had to pick just one song from the album, which song are you the most proud of?
CS: Oh man! That’s like picking your favorite child! All of them really do hold a special place deep down. Honestly, “Sinners and the Saved” is the one I’m most proud of. Mostly because it was inspired by my two grandfathers. One was a sheriff and a preacher, the other a rancher. This song basically comes down to people’s struggles with good, evil, forgiveness and redemption.
TMP: Our favorite song from the record is “Covered”. Can you provide us with some background on it?
CS: Weellll……… This one’s about doing something you shouldn’t be doing! We’ve actually gotten a lot of good feedback about this song and I think it’s because it’s so relatable. Covered is about two people falling in love when they shouldn’t have. It was written from the heart and I think that shines through in the lyrics.
TMP: You don’t see a whole lot of instrumental tracks these days. Can you tell us about “Ghosts of Desperado” and your decision behind including it on the album?
CS: You’re right, you really don’t see a lot of instrumental tracks these days and that might be exactly why we ended up using it. We were in the studio and just started a little impromptu jam session with the record button on. It wasn’t really planned, but at the end of the song, if you listen closely, you can hear us walking out of the studio and the door shutting behind us. After listening back, we thought this was the perfect way to end the album.
TMP: Do you have plans to release a single from the record?
CS: We most certainly do. We just haven’t made the final decision on what song to pick. We’ve narrowed it down to a few, but are really relying on feedback from our fans and people in the industry. So, obviously, Covered is your choice! We’ll take it 🙂
TMP: What is your favorite thing to eat while out on the road?
CS: I’m glad you didn’t ask our steel guitar player Pat this question. He would most definitely tell you to shy away from the “homemade” pies at the gas station around Cisco, TX! As for me, Spitz cracked pepper sunflower seeds, peanut butter M&Ms, and I’ve recently become very fond of Chicken Express and their killer sweet tea. I usually get so worked up before shows that I forget to eat and then after I usually dominate a #25 from Whataburger.
Wow, now that I’m talking about this, I can see where my adult body is coming from!
TMP: Can you share a funny story with us about something that has happened while out on the road or performing?
CS: Oklahoma City….Wormy Dog… On stage going strong. I started announcing the band like I do every show. When I got to our fiddler player, Wes Barlow, I went completely brain-dead. I started to say “on the fiddle from Memphis Tennessee, my good friend Mr. Wes ………..” Totally forgot his last name and froze. We all lost it with the giggles. Let’s say he’s not Wes Barlow anymore, he’s just Mr. Wes.
TMP: What is on the horizon for Cody Sparks?
CS: Well, I guess that depends on how this album does! Haha. So far so good. Honestly, our goal is to play as many shows as we can, anywhere we can and start getting on at more festivals and big events. We want to reach as many people as possible. I will continue to write and just really hope that people catch on to what we’re doing.
TMP: Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
CS: We love feedback…… So please, if you like something or want more of something…… Or less of something, haha…… Let us know! We appreciate you!! And one last thing…….. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but never take a case of Allsups burritos as your only food source for a week in Steamboat Springs, CO!
Check out our favorite song “Covered” below!
Long Branch Saloon
Round Rock, TX
Cedar Park, TX
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Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and avid Houston sports fan! I’am also the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers.