omg: You’re a co-writer on Luke Combs’ new single “She Got The Best Of Me.” Can you tell us the backstory on the song?
Rob: Luke [Combs] came over to write, and he had an idea called “It Got The Best Of Me” or something, and Channing [Wilson] said, “No, she got the best of me.” I just went to a personal place of past relationships, spit out the first verse. We agreed on the chorus, and it really wrote itself. It only took about 45 minutes, about four years ago. Literally within a week, Luke recorded it and put it out. We were like, “Whoa, this guy just moved to town, and he’s blowing up.” Over time, it really became a fan favorite.
omg: You also got to go to the Opry and perform that song. What was that like?
Rob: To be honest, it was the most surreal thing I’ve ever done. I moved to town to be an artist almost seven years ago. Basically, I just put everything into music. I rented a 3x5 in-town rental U-Haul and I had a Honda Odyssey minivan. I’d stuff six guys in there, and we’d go to Pennsylvania and back. We’d play shows in West Virginia and everywhere in between. I would be the one losing money, since I had to pay my guys. After about two years of doing that, I really wasn’t getting anywhere. I decided I really wanted to write songs, so that’s when I started to dig in. I worked on becoming a better co-writer, you know, being better at getting in the room with an artist and pulling more out of them. I used to always write for myself. It helps when you really get to know the people, become friends with me. That’s when it’ll just fall out of the sky.
omg: What gave you the idea to start Revival? It’s been around for five years and is still one of the biggest writer’s nights in town. Do you have a favorite Revival memory?
Rob: So many. It was a thing where I really saw that I needed to create my own opportunity. I moved to town, and I’m a diehard Eagles fan, which you know there aren’t a ton of us around. I was unapologetically going to be me. I was a door guy at Whiskey Jam for a couple of years and met a ton of people there. I love Whiskey Jam, I love what they do, but I knew it was a big party thing, too. I wanted to, not necessarily have a Bluebird moment, but more of a drunk Bluebird experience where people could hang out but actually pay attention to the songs, too. We’d have huge hit songwriters but also encourage them not to show off and play their hits. We wanted to hear songs with substance and songs that meant something to them. Everyone moves here from somewhere else. They give up their friends, family and lives back home and what I wanted to do was create something to bring that here to Tin Roof in the belly of the beast. There’s a lot of artists that hang out here, and it’s created opportunities for people. If someone like Chris Young’s here, and he comes up to me after and asks who played, that person could get a Chris Young cut someday. You never know what could happen. But specific moments- there are so many. One would be Ronnie Bowman playing before anyone knew who Ronnie really was. He’s a writer on a lot of Chris Stapleton’s songs. Him playing was silencing a room of 400 people. He opens up his mouth and starts singing, and everyone shuts up. Miranda Lambert, Brent Cobb and Adam Hood was another great moment. Drake White hosted the first annual party we did. He was dancing on the church pew, getting wild- it was awesome. We’ve had countless amounts of great writers that come up. Wyatt Durrette’s a regular here. He’s written practically every Zac Brown Band hit you can think of, and now he’s really coming into an artist himself. I think it just inspires people to write better songs. If Revival can be nothing else, I just hope it can up the bar for what’s on the radio right now.
omg: So, the reason you started Revival was really to make your own way. Do you have any advice for someone new to town that wants to forge a new path and get into the industry?
Rob: Listen to old, great songs. I feel like the bar has really been lowered in the last 8-9 years. People need to go back and listen to those kind of songs and dig in on what great songwriting is. You’ve got people like Jason Isbell, but Music Row doesn’t pay attention to Jason Isbell. If I could do one thing, it would be to bridge the gap between Americana and popular country music. I think the biggest problem people get into is trying to sound like someone else, write like someone else. It does take time to figure out who you are and what your sound is. Another important thing is living experience. I didn’t move here until I was 30. If I would have moved here at 23, I would be writing nonsense- I’d also probably be in jail. *laughs* I went through a lot, and now I have a lot of experience to draw from. Some younger guys I know really have their heads on straight business-wise. I really didn’t get a business mindset about the songwriting thing until two years ago. My advice is to show up. It’s really easy to get caught up being out, drinking at 2:00 in the morning and miss your co-write the next day. It becomes a social thing, and it is important to network, but if you show up to work everyday, you’re going to get better. Ask yourself, “What did I do today to become a better songwriter?”