Cody Jinks is the type of artist who likes to be on the go, traveling from city to city and performing night after night. In a typical year, the singer-songwriter is not home for more than five or six weeks at a time. This streetwise approach, coupled with a wild live show, has helped Jinks build a loyal fan base and establish a successful career on his own terms as an independent artist.
In fact, he was named Independent Artist of the Year at the 2020 MusicRow Country Breakout Awards and racked up the most radio spins for an independent artist last year with songs like "Ain't A Train" and "Same Kind Of Crazy As I". "These honors are just the latest in a long line of accolades Jinks has received since he released his groundbreaking 2015 gold-certified album, Adobe Sessions, which included the fan-favorite, platinum-certified single Loud and Heavy. ".
His 2016 album I'm Not the Devil also peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, while 2018's Lifers and two 2019 albums (The Wanting and After the Fire) peaked at number 2 on the same chart. . Additionally, to date, Jinks has nearly 2 billion streams across all platforms, along with his 2.18 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Much of this success is due to Jinks' songwriting, which speaks refreshingly raw and honestly about the exhilarating highs and lows of life. And so, in early 2020, when he was off the streets indefinitely due to the pandemic, Jinks decided to settle down, keep busy, and work his trade. "My wife and I were sitting on the porch and I thought, 'You know what I'm going to do in this weather? I'm becoming a better songwriter. I don't know how long the lockdown will last, but I need to communicate with songwriters I've never met before. written before and choose their opinions. I need to get better at my craft. I have to learn from other people.'"
Jinks eventually caught up with old friends, frequent collaborators, and even some of his heroes for virtual writing sessions. The result was a productive period: in May 2021 he simultaneously recorded two full-length albums in two different styles: a solo country record, Mercy -written entirely during the pandemic- and a metal record, None The Wiser, under the band name Caned. by Nod.
"It was very different to record them at the same time," says Jinks. "It was literally being in a studio and walking next door and going from this beautiful country song that we're doing to this really angry metal song and flipping a switch." Although he found the process exhausting at times, Jinks saw the experience as an opportunity to fully translate his mind for the first time as he explored the many facets of his art.
The country album Mercy reflects the chemistry between Jinks and Thompson and their former bandmates. In fact, there was no process of stress or acceleration despite not seeing each other for 14 months before entering the studio to record. "We've been playing together for so long that we just came back," says Jinks. "It couldn't have been more seamless and I'm so thankful for that. Everyone was on the same page when we got there; everyone was ready to go. Really, you couldn't tell it had been 14 months since we sat down together. It was pretty amazing." .
The songs are upbeat and reflective, showcasing both the band's interplay and Jinks' eclectic songwriting; Mercy is a mix of energetic twang rock (the sinister "Hurt You"), bar-band blues (the carefree "All It Cost Me Was Everything") and classic ballads (the pedal-steel-heavy "I Don 't Don' Don't Trust My Memories Anymore"). However, Mercy's diverse makeup also reflects an eclectic line of collaborators, as Jinks has been able to book writing sessions with Jim Lauderdale, Brent Cobb, Channing Wilson, Chris Shiflett, Kendell Marvel, Adam Hood, TN Jet, Josh Morningstar, David Matsler and Greg Jones and Ward Davis and his wife Rebecca. "Usually when I'm going to write with other people, I'd either fly somewhere, or they'd fly here. But we couldn't, so we got really hot." when typing Zoom calls.”
According to Jinks, Mercy's songs reflect the uncertainty and emotional roller coaster the world has been on for the past year, with raw emotions on the surface, from the narrator standing at a difficult crossroads ("Like a Hurricane"), to a protagonist who feels the weight of the world and tries to move on ("Shoulders") and someone consumed by rage and revenge ("Hurt You").
"There's nothing in the songs about what happened to the world, but some of the songs are heavy, just in context," he says. “Some days we would get up and everyone was down because it was another day with nothing to do. And then some days I was like, 'Man, today we're going to write a fun song. We're going to write something like the last track on the country record we're going to release.' You had all these emotions. You couldn't just be doom and gloom." In fact, Mercy also includes a song about the healing power of love ("Feeding the Flames") and a cautionary tale about what happens when a night goes awry thanks to the hard things ("When the whiskey calls the shots").
Caned By Nod's "None the Wiser" draws inspiration from classic rock, thrash metal, and even psychedelic-tinged grunge, thanks to piercing guitar riffs, massive bass rhythms, and Jinks' raspy vocals. The album's lyrics are also darker, featuring protagonists disillusioned with the people and world around them or struggling with self-destructive tendencies and lamenting poor life choices. There are no easy answers or happy endings in None the Wiser, just the harsh reality of consequences.
Jinks is no newcomer to metal (in the late '90s and early '00s, the Texas native fronted a thrash metal band called Unchecked Aggression), though returning to a rock-inspired mindset has been challenging. "I was afraid to start this record because it's new territory for me," he admits. “I hadn't recorded anything like this in over 20 years. I kept asking everyone, 'Does that sound cool? I think that's great. Alright? Does this song translate well? It was stressful. But it was funny."
"None the Wiser" features new and late-2000s songs, though Jinks co-wrote them all with guitarist Ben Heffley, his Unchecked Aggression bandmate. “We started playing together when we were in high school; we go back a long way,” says Jinks. "Ben and I could always get together and write a song, and that's a rarity. So it was natural to work together. I mean, I've been making music with this guy for almost 25 years."
Although the songs on None the Wiser span a longer period of time, Jinks prides himself on the album's cohesiveness, with older material blending seamlessly with newer songs. "It's not a concept album, but it's doing well," he says. "It's a testament to their quality that the songs we made 12 or 13 years ago could compete with the songs we literally spit out while recording."
Although None the Wiser and Mercy were recorded at the same location, Sonic Ranch in Texas, they were two separate projects with two different bands and two different studios. The only crossover happened when his country band was helping out on some metal songs with backing vocals. Jinks admits it can be stressful going back and forth like this, though the recording sessions had a pivotal power on Edward Spear, who produced, mixed and engineered both albums.
"He's probably one of the most talented people I've ever met in this business," says Jinks. "With None the Wiser, I was like, 'Ed, I'm not in my comfort zone right now. I need help. I need help finding the keys to sing. I don't know where we need to go after that, or this and that.' "But the consistency there made it easy for me to have him on both projects at the same time. I fully trust him and he is a genius at what he does. Whatever the style, he tackles it with ferocity. He does ".. Don't beat around the bush."
Despite the split between the albums, Jinks wanted to make sure that both None the Wiser and Mercy contained grit. "I don't want it to come out like a good Nashville record," he said of the latter. "I want it to sound like us, like me. I want it to sound real."
However, both Mercy and None The Wiser reflect Jinks taking huge leaps in his songwriting, adding even more insight and nuance to his already rich character sketches. "The actual art of writing was the only thing I really needed to focus on to stay sane," he says. “In our world they call us singer-songwriters. I am a singer-songwriter. The song comes first. If I don't write a great song, I'm dead in the water. I've really focused on being a better wordsmith."
But if anything, Jinks sees this exercise in self-improvement as a kind of moment of coming full circle. "We all started out in our bedrooms as teenagers, either banging away on drums or trying to find new Metallica licks or whatever," he says. "We go back to where I was sitting there, I'm 40, and it's like, 'What am I going to do?' It's like, 'Well, I can practice on my guitar.' What the hell else am I supposed to do?"