Texas has long been known for producing some of the greatest country music stars of all time. From legends like Willie Nelson and George Strait to current stars such as Cody Johnson and Miranda Lambert, country music owes a debt to the Lone Star state, and the debt’s just getting bigger. This month, rising country star — and Texas native — Kolby Cooper dropped his new single, “Breaking News,” and it serves as the greatest evidence that the 22-year-old is already taking the mantle. Recently, PopCulture.com had the chance to catch up with Cooper, and he opened up a number of things including his songwriting approach, his new song, and discovering a love of Ozzy Osbourne’s music as a kid.
First off, it should be clarified that Cooper is no “overnight sensation” story. He’s been recording and touring since 2017, with one full-length album under his belt — 2020’s Good Ones Never Last — and a handful of EPs, including Boy From Anderson County which he released in 2021. What Cooper is most excited about right now, he says, is the new single, which fans can hear below. “‘Breaking News,’ it’s obviously our new release and we’re all really excited about it. It’s been our biggest release ever so far so that’s always really, really exciting.” He continued, “But it’s also a move in an even heavier direction and kind of leans more into the guitar sound that we’ve always really, really loved and really tried to include into our music and it’s awesome to see, I guess people react so well to something that’s a little different than everything.”
When it comes to the song’s source material, Cooper confessed that it’s not really a personal story about a jilted ex-lover, but rather something he wrote after witnessing friends and family members going through similar situations. “It’s not necessarily about anything from me. I’ve been married [since I was] 18, have two little girls, but I have a bunch of friends and a bunch of family members and I think a lot of people do that go through these relationships with certain people that you know that they’re probably not meant to be with, but it’s kind of that thing like where you just kind of got to let them make these mistakes.”
Cooper explained that he wanted to capture the perspective of someone who was in a way confronting their ex about being manipulative over moving on. “I kind of wanted to really hit on that and talk about how A, it’s not OK to be an a—hole and be that kind of person and B, that it is OK to just never talk to that person again and to leave them alone, that you don’t, you don’t need that kind of toxicity in your life and that kind of just that kind of person in your life, really. And I’ve seen a lot of friends and family members go through that. And I just kind of wanted to show that to people.”
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“Breaking News” is a phenomenal entry into Cooper’s repertoire of country music, which he openly admits is his “first love.” When it comes to his biggest influence, however, Cooper says that one special person just barely edges out Waylon Jennings. “So, one of my biggest inspirations still to this day was my dad.” He added, “He didn’t sing or play music or anything, but he had a passion for music. He just, he loved it and it was a thing that we really bonded over.”
Cooper continued, “I remember as a kid, he drove a cow truck, so I’d ride with him the cow truck. My all-time favorite is Waylon Jennings. I got the tattoo right here. And as a kid. I remember we would listen to… He had this CD folder, obviously, of just a thousand CDs and had every Waylon CD. And we would just listen to Waylon and Chris LeDoux, and some Texas guys like Randy Rogers and Charlie Robinson and Cross Canadian Ragweed just for hours on the road. And that was just it. We’d just sit there and talk a little bit and then just listen to music that we loved and that’s kind of how we bonded. So I think a lot of that.”
While country music was what stuck most, Cooper also revealed that his father also helped cultivate his love for rock by introducing him to the inimitable “Prince of Darkness,” Ozzy Osbourne. “I got a little bit older and got into… My dad bought me the Ozzy Osbourne No More Tears album…. with ‘Mama I’m Coming Home, and it was the first rock record that really… I was like, ‘Holy S—!. What is this?” I was in fourth grade when I got it. And I remember I had the little like Walkman CD player whatever, and just would have it in the classroom and when we had free time and listen to Ozzy. It’s a little weird. Fourth-grader listening to No More Tears. It’s crazy, dude.”
Right now, Cooper is out on the road, opening a string of tour dates for Koe Wetzel, in addition to headlining a number of his own shows across the nation. Click here to check out the dates and get access to tickets. He also revealed he has new music on the way, which fans can hear about in our video interview at the top of the page!