From chasing cows to selling out shows: Brad Cox details his unconventional rise

From chasing cows to selling out shows: Brad Cox details his unconventional rise

Words by August Billy

The emerging country star grows up on his second album, My Mind’s Projection. 

Brad Cox is a country boy. The 25-year-old songwriter hails from Jindabyne in the NSW Snowy Mountains, but these days spends most of his time on the road. 2020 has been no different – in a year when most musicians have barely left their local government area, Cox has completed a mammoth tour of coastal Queensland and New South Wales.

“We’ve been really lucky, getting a few shows in,” says Cox, who’s a rapid climber in the local country music ranks. “I reckon we’re probably the only musos that have played 30 plus shows this year, that’s for sure.”

Cox first came to prominence after winning the Toyota Star Maker competition at the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival. He was 22 years old at the time, scooping up a prize that previously launched the careers of Lee Kernaghan and Keith Urban.

The Star Maker prize package facilitated the release of Cox’s debut self-titled album, which came out in May 2018. But even prior to entering the competition, Cox felt confident his songs would connect with a large audience.

“I released a couple of songs before Star Maker and started selling tickets,” he says. “When you first start doing ticketed shows and you’ve got a music release and 40, 50, 60 people turn up for the gig and pay their hard-earned cash to see you play, it’s a pretty big moment where you go, ‘Oh, maybe this is actually going to work.’”

Cox was born in 1995 and grew up in Jindabyne, where his parents still live. Music has been an obsession since his early teens, but he’s no stranger to the sort of hard manual labour that often defines life for people in the regions. As a result, pursuing a career in music wasn’t the obvious option after finishing high school.

“From the age of 14 I was playing cover gigs in pubs and I did that for years and years,” says Cox. “But then I spent a couple of years in the Northern Territory chasing cows. I was still playing cover gigs at rodeos and pubs when I could and so the guys that I worked for up there sat me down and they said, ‘You need to go and do this and give it a crack.’”

Cox soon left the Territory with a firm aim to give up the covers caper. He started demoing for what would become his debut album as soon as he got back to Jindabyne. “And it kind of took off and worked out,” he says.

Led by the singles ‘Lake House’ and ‘Water On the Ground’, Brad Cox was an immediate success. The album has since racked up millions of Spotify streams and sent Cox out on the road in support of international artists like Brad Eldredge and Jon Pardi.

His anticipated second album, My Mind’s Projection, is out on Friday November 6. The album has been in the works since 2018, with writing sessions taking place around Australia and during a number of co-writing trips to Nashville. In fact, in contrast to his debut, the majority of tracks on My Mind’s Projection are co-writes.

“I had a few writing trips in Nashville and thought, ‘These are pretty good songs, I’ll try and jam them on the album,’ the most recent being November last year,” Cox says. “I started working with the guys from Sony/ATV, the publishing company, here and in Nashville, and getting into some rooms with some really hot songwriters.”

This way of working took some getting used for Cox, particularly given how solitary his previous method had been. But he quickly recognised that the benefits outweighed the growing pains.

“It was very strange to adapt to and honestly I hated the first three or four sessions that I did. It was really uncomfortable, but every time we got a great song from it, so I learned how to write with the right people and enjoy the actual process of it.”

Cox describes My Mind’s Projection as a “developmental album,” meaning that the more he worked on it, the more it evolved and improved. This is evident in the themes explored on the album, with songs like ‘Drinking Season’ expressing gratitude for the good times and the likes of ‘Short Lived Love’ revealing a more tender, vulnerable side of Cox.

“I didn’t write this album for anyone or about anyone, but I did write this album pretty much just as a snapshot the last three years of my life. You know, breakups and finding love and hanging out with my friends and that kind of thing.

“I’m still a spring chicken in the scheme of things, but in the ten years between being 15 and 25 a lot of things change and a lot of maturity happens, a lot of immaturity happens. So I’ve definitely grown and changed and loved and [been] heartbroken, which I’d never done before.”

Brad Cox’s new album My Mind’s Projection is out on Friday November 6. Pre-order a copy here

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