Cody Bryan cops to it. His band’s 2013 album, Wreck Me, is a breakup record.
That’s not to be confused with a heartbreak record, though.
“I mean, what I wanted to do was just to make a fun record,” Bryan said from his digs in Austin. “The way that I usually write is almost always from where I am, what’s going on with me. I was going through a breakup at that point, and that is always a great place for me to write from. I know how that sounds, though. Yeah, I was writing from a breakup, but these are easy-listening, feel-good songs.”
Wreck Me is mostly made up of up-tempo toe-tappers. Bryan dives into the 10-track project with the title song, which recalls the woman who crimped the fender of his truck and wrapped his heart around a tree. The song almost seems like it was a custom job for a whirl around the floor — or a music video starring a siren in boots and an ombre dye job.
He puts a bow on the radio-worthy box with “Roses,” another up-tempo song that invites the little lady to “take your roses, take your shiny car, and get ’em far away from my heart.” Only by the end of this song, you get the feeling this one probably did leave a mark. In between, he covers “That’s Why God Made Saturday Nights,” and sounds solid in the record’s sole ballad, “Where We Were Made.”
Bryan said his country music habit predates the Cody Bryan Band.
“I used to play in more of a rock band in Austin, Aimless Guns, and I’d come in with a country song,” Bryan said. “I grew up listening to Randy Rhoads and Garth Brooks.”
The Brooks influence is clear; Brooks is nothing if not a frustrated rock star. Bryan is as comfortable singing in a slight Texas drawl as he is with the cocky attitude of rock.
Bryan is a peer and a friend of Blue October bassist Matt Noveskey, who urged him to take those songs out of proverbial piano bench and build a country band around it. Noveskey ended up producing Wreck Me — and played the heavy on occasion.
“He was the rock in this process,” Bryan said. “The Cody Bryan Band was a new thing when we went in the studio. He’s the director in there. He kept everything in line. He made sure that everything that was supposed to happen actually happened. There were some times I questioned him — stuff where I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He’d say, ‘Humor me,’ and he finally gets you to play it. I had to come around on some of this stuff, but I did come around, and he was right.”
Tonight’s show is the band’s first at Rockin’ Rodeo, and the group opens for Roger Creager. When the Cody Bryan Band goes live, the group plays to the crowd.
“It's really important to play the songs you enjoy playing live,” Bryan said. “We actually wrote a bunch of new songs. When Wreck Me was released — we hadn’t played them live, this new set of songs. I was a little bit nervous, but the songs turned out fantastic.”
Bryan said audiences have adopted “Wreck Me,” the first single from the album, and “When We Were Made” has picked up steam among favorites on the band’s set list.
The current lineup of the band has been backing Bryan for about five years.
“I think that helps a lot with the chemistry,” he said. “It’s important because you’re going to be spending a lot of time together. When it all comes down to it, if you don’t have that chemistry, the audience sees right through it.”
Bryan can take three chords and make a song that can hold its own, whether in the dance hall or on an FM radio station that serves its pop-rock polished with some red dirt from the Southwest.
The question he has yet to answer is whether he can set down the Stetson for a while, and season his songs with the kind of vulnerability and roughness that pushes Lyle, Willie, Johnny and Merle across the tracks from youthful suburbia.
CODY BRYAN BAND
Where: Rockin’ Rodeo, 1009 Ave. C
When: doors open at 9 p.m. music starts at 10 p.m. today
How much: $10. For reservations, visit www.rockinrodeodenton.com