I love songwriters, I enjoy looking up who's written what and exploring new music through finding out about the writer and what else they've written. Ross Copperman is a name that has crossed my radar a number of times in the past few years that I've done this. Almost every radio show there's at least one song that Ross has written or produced and he consistently has songs in the top ten of the Country charts so as you can imagine when he was announced to play the CMA Songwriters Series I was over the moon! Keen to chat to him and find out more about his career so far I caught up with him before last weeks event and got some sound advice for aspiring writers like myself who look up to people like Ross Copperman.
So can you tell me about the first moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Man, I think I wrote a song when I was about 12 years old for this play I did when I was a kid and we didn't win because the judges thought my mum wrote the song so they disqualified us or something, she was like "I didn't, he wrote the song" and in that moment I was inspired to prove to people that I can write songs so that lit the fire.
When you was growing up what did your parents kind of make you listen to and what are you choosing to listen to now?
They made me listen to The Stones and The Beatles and they put MTV on when I was a kid which I probably shouldn't have been watching that young but I fell in love with Springsteen and Madonna and Guns and Roses, Metallica. Just recently I've fallen back in love with Def Leppard and Motley Crew I'm going through a hardcore rock faze right now.
So not so much Country in there?
You know I make Country music so I don't necessarily listen to it for enjoyment anymore I'm so in it everyday of my life I find my inspiration from other places.
When it comes to your own songwriting where does your lyrical inspiration come from, do you still draw from personal experience?
In Nashville we write four or five days a week so it comes unfortunately less about your own life as it does crafting the best hook and the best idea you can come up with so you become more detached to it which is sad and I'd like to get back to finding that passion for the idea that relates to your own life but it's hard when you're writing that many songs a week.
Do you have favourite people to collaborate with?
Yeah I do, do you know many songwriters?
Well one of your locals, Ed Sheeran has been one of my favourite's to write with, we wrote 13 songs about six months ago and they're my 13 favourite songs ever because he's just the best!
Do you still get a little starstruck then when you write with your favourite artists and writers?
You know if I ever got to write with Chris Martin that'd be pretty amazing! I do, even being friends with all these people we'll be hanging out together and I'll think Keith Urban's a big part of the reason that I'm even doing this and now we go to concerts together like not his concerts, others like shows and stuff it's funny, it's a strange thing. I'm really close with some of the Kings of Leon boys and they've inspired me and now we're eating birthday cake together and roller skating at kids birthday parties, it's an odd reality.
You're a fantastic songwriter with some massive hits, I regularly check the country charts and check who's written what on those charts...
Do you, that's really cool!
Yeah, and sometimes you have two or three songs in the top ten, you and Shane McAnally are always up there! How does that feel and do you ever feel like you don't know where the next song's going to come from?
Everyday I feel like that, when the weekend rolls around I'm like, I don't know how to write songs anymore. It comes to Monday and I think I don't remember how to do this, I'm no good at it, literally the songwriter mentality is you don't think you're good enough, very self deprecating. But when there's multiple songs out at the same time it's the biggest blessing. It's so hard to get one song up the charts, it's like winning the Super Bowl so to have multiple songs it's such a gift.
You've talked about having a record deal yourself and touring over here, do you have a favourite aspect of the industry?
That's a great question, you know, it changes, that artist creativity thing never dies, I tried to shut it down for ten years and I did and I focused on writing but I feel like I'm at the point now where I have a lot of favourite songs now that might not be on an album you know or maybe it is but it's track 13 and was never a single so nobody knows it so there's a lot of those that I'd like to compile and put out myself. I think some of my best songs are sitting on my computer, that nobody's heard yet, so I'd like to put together my favourite songs sometime soon.
Well when you do that please come over and tour them!
I will do, I didn't know Country was big now over here, it's amazing!
A few silly questions for you now, what's the strangest thing you've ever written a song about?
Man that's a hard question, I'm such an emo kind of guy I don't know if I've written about strange things. I write songs with my kids sometimes about like Unicorns and stuff so maybe that'd count.
When you're on stage performing, are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander, we call it your mid-gig thoughts?
Do I have mid-gig thoughts? That's so funny, I always have a fear of forgetting the words so I put an iPad up with the lyrics as a safety net so that's usually what I'm thinking of. I usually perform in rounds which is four to five songwriters so you don't have time you're usually just listening to the other writers almost like your at a concert and then suddenly oh God I've got to play. I haven't done the just MetroLyrics thing in a long while.
One of my favourite songs is John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16, can you tell me a little bit about the story behind that please?
That song, I had the vibe of it and I had the melody but was just mumbling and we started talking about American culture and the things that kind of made us, Gibson guitars and texaco stars, and well these are all things that made us who we are, we learned everything we know off these things and then someone said John Cougar and then someone said John Deere and how about John 3:16 like that could be our title but it's the longest title ever haha.
I'm an aspiring songwriter as are many of my readers, what advice do you have to those people?
I'd do what you're doing, study the game, like when you said you look up who's written what, I'd even go a step further and make charts of hit songs, like trends and stuff so I'd analyse hit songs and figure out what tempo reoccurs, what chord progressions reoccur so that must be a hit progression. Nowadays it changes so fast so the trends are constantly changing but that would be my advice.