Songwriter Spotlight: Ross Copperman
In the last three years, songwriter and producer Ross Copperman has emerged as one of country music’s new guard of elite hitmakers, helping to expand the genre’s reach into broader, boundary-defying territory. That’s no accident, since the 32-year-old Roanoke, Virginia, native says he grew up on Nineties modern rock.
“I actually wasn’t listening to country, which I regret,” he explains to Rolling Stone Country. “My wife fills me in on Nineties country and I feel like I missed that whole thing, but the target has shifted over to guys like me and what we grew up listening to. It feels like the shift has happened in the last three or four years to where now it’s like, ‘Oh, I can actually just do what I love doing.'”
Citing Oasis and Third Eye Blind as his favorite bands, Copperman once had a recording deal of his own as a pop artist in the U.K., but traded in the hectic touring life for one of co-writing sessions and studio leadership on projects like Dierks Bentley’s Riser and Jake Owen’s yet-to-be-announced fifth album.
Since his first Top 15 hit on Billboard‘s country songs chart in 2012 (Thompson Square’s “Glass”), Copperman has gone on to co-pen successful songs including Bentley’s “Tip It on Back,” Kenny Chesney’s “Pirate Flag,” Justin Moore’s “Point at You” and Brett Eldredge’s “Beat of the Music.”
Today, Copperman has another four songs on country radio simultaneously and two fresh Number Ones to celebrate (Billy Currington’s “Don’t It” and A Thousand Horses’ “Smoke”). And with credit on the new singles from Keith Urban, Owen and Eldredge, that tally seems likely to rise.
Rolling Stone Country caught up with Copperman to reveal the stories behind his five latest radio offerings.
Keith Urban, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” (Copperman, Shane MacAnally, Josh Osborne)
It’s funny, nobody had that title. Nobody walked in and was like, “Let’s write ‘John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.'” We almost gave up on the idea because we were just writing and writing and throwing out all these cool images, and we kind of knew the essence of what we wanted to say, but then at some point Josh was like, “What about John Cougar?” And then Shane was like, “And John Deere,” and I was like, “And John 3:16.” It all came together in this serendipitous moment. But then we were thinking, “What could the title be? That title is way too long.”