Dave Cobb is flying back to Nashville this afternoon, exhausted from a long weekend in Los Angeles but in good spirits thanks to a pair of well-deserved victories at last night's Grammy Awards.
"It was all a bit surreal," he tells Rolling Stone Country of the ceremony, which found Cobb leaving his natural habitat — the recording studio — and hitting the red carpet alongside Grammy winners Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell. Both of those artists left the show with two trophies each, including Best Country Album — awarded to Stapleton's Traveller, which Cobb produced at Nashville's RCA Studio A — and Best Americana Album, which went to Isbell's Something More Than Free.
Cobb, whose love of first takes and spur-of-the-moment performances sets his work apart from the polished, pop-heavy production of most mainstream country music, says he didn't approach Stapleton and Isbell's albums with any sort of award-winning goal in mind.
"We definitely didn't make those records for that reason," he says. "We thought we'd maybe sell 20,000 or 50,000 records, and hopefully get the chance to do it again. It's crazy; these little things you do wind up being so much bigger than you'd imagined."
There's another Stapleton album on the horizon, with Cobb reprising his role as producer. Thanks to a swell of interest jumpstarted by last year's performance at the CMA Awards, though, Stapleton will be on the road for much of 2016. As a result, the two have yet to schedule any time in the recording studio.
"We're planning to do another one." Cobb reassures. "They're touring quite a bit, though, so we'll get to work when that slows down."
In the meantime, his schedule remains full with projects that span the full range of American roots music. Side Pony, Cobb's first project with blue-eyed soul torchbearers Lake Street Dive, hits stores this Friday, while new albums by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sturgill Simpson, Holly Williams and Lori McKenna are all in the can and awaiting release. He's also gearing up for the March 18th release of Southern Family, his all-star concept album about growing up in the South and is excited about a new solo album by his cousin, Brent Cobb, an A-list songwriter whose cuts include Miranda Lambert's "Old Shit" and Little Big Town's "Pavement Ends."
"He's like the redneck Paul Simon," Cobb enthuses. "We did his album and we're signing him to Low Country Sound, which is my label though Elektra. It'll be out soon, although there's no release date yet. We literally just finished it."
Cobb's plane has already been delayed once, and he's looking forward to getting back home and returning to work. Yesterday was a long day, from the pre-telecast — where Isbell won his awards — to the prime-time ceremony, where Best Country Album was announced.
"It was overwhelming, and we were there all day," he says. "It's great to see your friends win, though. Not just the people I work with, but other friends, too, like Blake Mills, the Alabama Shakes and Little Big Town. They all deserve it."
And how did Cobb celebrate his own Grammy wins, after sweeping the show's rootsy categories?
"I went to bed!" he says, laughing.