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Texas Trailblazer Cody Jinks On Changing The Game

There are certain words that tend to pop up again and again when the subject is Cody Jinks. “Authentic,” “gritty” and “raw” are popular ones, and sometimes you’ll run across edgier descriptors like “insurgent,” “rebellious” or “defiant.”

cody jinks

The trailblazing Texas singer-songwriter agrees with such characterizations for the most part, and he knows those kinds of qualities are big reasons for his and his band’s enormous, and growing, appeal. With his honest-to-a-fault lyrics and a rocking, muscular sound strongly rooted in deep country, he’s often branded rightly as a country music outlaw. He’s an effective storyteller, and the stories he tells are mostly his own. He’s authentic to the core.

Metal Roots & As Real As It Gets

Remarkably, while steering his own unique path instead of chasing modern country trends, he’s managed to become wildly successful while hanging tightly onto his hard-won credibility as an “outsider” artist. The fact that he’s confident, outspoken and ambitious add to his allure, providing a few more reasons that so many people look up to Jinks as not just a musical act but also as a personal inspiration.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat anything,” Jinks says. “Our crowd believes what I’m saying because I’ve been there and lived it. We built it from the grassroots, and I was on the road for 10 years before anybody knew who the hell I was.”

Jinks’ first brush with the music business was as front man of a thrash metal band called Unchecked Aggression. In the scrappy group’s aftermath, the Fort Worth native softened his sound somewhat (but not fully) and aimed for every dive bar and roadhouse that would have him and his acoustic guitar. The band he built around his new approach toured relentlessly, burning out a succession of vans and motorhomes before cruising into a much more comfortable level of success going on eight years ago. 

Big Break & Fan-Base Building

The latter part of 2016 and into early 2017 is when this flashpoint occurred. Jinks and his band hit the bigger time in the long wake of their 2015 album Adobe Sessions, which in some ways seems to have formed a bedrock for their music that has followed. No one can seem to put a finger on exactly why it happened at that particular time, but in a flash their audience was exponentially larger. Something in Jinks’ smooth, low-register voice, which often elicits comparisons to Merle Haggard, was speaking directly to lots more people from more walks of life. One of today’s marketing professionals might call it “relatability,” but his fans just call it “real.”

cody jinks band

Besides allowing them all to stretch out on a big, comfy bus, the better fortunes meant that Jinks and his longtime wife, Rebecca, were no longer struggling to make ends meet as they had done for years. When he was 36, he finally enjoyed financial solvency for a change, kissing goodbye to a six-figure debt he’d mounted in the course of following his dream. 

“She was able to quit her job as a school teacher, which she loved and was very good at,” Jinks says. “She was in education for 15 years.”

This should help to dispel any notion that he and the band were some kind of overnight success. Instead, he’s already crisscrossed the country many times before experiencing his breakthrough. “I had a couple of million miles on me before I even got a tour bus,” he says.

Jinks Puts The Bottle Down & Takes Charge

After some recent lifestyle changes, you can add “sober” to the list of adjectives describing Jinks. Last August, he abruptly ended what he describes as a long-term love of alcohol, and he details it straight up on his new album, Change The Game

Jinks hanging with the boys and some pretty big bucks. (Tyler Stubblefield Photo)

“I had an epiphany, I guess, or a moment of clarity, whatever you want to call it,” Jinks says. “I woke up one morning and I looked at my wife and said, ‘I’m done.’” He hasn’t looked back and says putting down the bottle hasn’t been difficult, despite the obvious temptations that come with his line of work. “It was August 19, 2023. I said, ‘Hey, God, take this from me,’ and that was the day he took it.”

So, while his confessional “Sober Thing” sets the tone for his eleventh studio album, the title track a few songs later in the sequence tells of his trajectory from unknown renegade to unconventional success story. He attributes his advancement in part to calling his own shots and controlling as many aspects of his career himself that he can, making him a truly independent artist in the fullest sense. He puts out music on his own record label and serves as his own manager. 

“You don’t need record labels anymore,” Jinks says of his DIY philosophy. “It’s getting to the point that if you’re halfway good at business you can manage yourself, and you can save a bunch of money doing that.”

Time With The Turnpike Troubadours & Luke Combs

He surely seems to be on the right track. He and the band are busy this year co-headlining a slate of shows with the newly re-energized Turnpike Troubadours and doing stadium dates as the opener for more mainstream megastar Luke Combs. And Jinks would be the first to say he wouldn’t be running with those kinds of crowds without the musical support from the six guys around him. 

“My sound is our sound,”  Jinks says with conviction. “I understand that it’s my name that’s on the billboard, but when we’re out there on the stage, I’m just the guy singing in the band.”

When the full name of the group is advertised, the listing includes the Tone Deaf Hippies, an appellation that started as a joke years ago and stuck. What makes it ironically funny is they are obviously masterful musicians, easily able to elevate Jinks’ country- and folk-based offerings powerfully and gracefully into magnificent musical journeys, both live and in the studio. The guys that Jinks says deserve a lot more credit than they sometimes get are bassist (and charter member) Joshua Thompson, guitarists Chris Clarity and Jake Lentner, steel guitarist Austin “Hot Rod” Tripp, drummer David Colvin and keyboardist/guitarist Drew Harakal.

Cody Jinks’ Hunting & Fishing Downtime

Running his own business, playing shows, and creating and recording new music requires a lot of work, and he and Rebecca are also busy raising their 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. Spare time is scarce, he says, even though he’s trimmed his touring schedule to around 60 shows a year. Like many of us, when he truly wants to unwind, he heads outdoors.

“Fishing’s my first love,” Jinks says, “but I also love to go duck hunting, sometimes in Missouri but usually here in Texas. I grew up bass fishing with my dad. That was our thing.”

cody jinks waterfowl hunting
Time spent in waterfowl blinds with friends is priceless. (Tyler Stubblefield Photo)

Whether he’s trying to outsmart the largemouth or stripers at Lake Ray Roberts or Possum Kingdom Lake or simply casting into a stock tank on his ranch, Jinks believes how many fish you catch or what size they are isn’t the point. “If you’re a true fisherman, there’s something therapeutic about just getting a line wet,” he says.

Asked what specifically fishing or hunting does for him, there’s an audible exhalation and then a relaxed pause over the phone until Jinks answers.

cody jinks

“It just gets me outside,” he says. “It gets me away from being Cody Jinks and it’s just being centered and calming down for just a minute.” 

Editor’s Note: For more information on Cody Jinks’ brand new Change The Game album, be sure to jam over to this recent post >>>>

Exclusive: Cody Jinks’ New ‘Change the Game’ Album

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