Singer/songwriter Cody Wayne served in Iraq as a U.S. Marine. Not knowing how to talk about the things he saw and experienced for the longest time, he kept silent, and then finally, allowed his pen to exercise the hauntings in his heart.
Losing his father at age 15 had catapulted Wayne into a deep sense of “being lost” and he spent years wandering an empty life with no true direction.
Your album resonates in my heart. It is most challenging to find your footing when your world is shattered. Our stories are different, but definitely feel yours through your lyrics, especially in “Remember The Lost Ones” (off the album “Bad Influence”). What prompted you to join the Marines?
At the time I joined the Marines my life was in limbo. I was basically living it from day to day with no plan for the future and drive to make one. However, I knew that I needed to do something and I wanted to challenge myself. I knew that if I could become a Marine I could do anything. Plus, I wanted to see the world. Uncle Sam had the plane ticket and I could run, do crunches, pull-ups, and hit a bulls-eye at 500 yards.
Wayne is a proud official advocate for The Boot Campaign, a non-profit organization based in Texas that provides life-improving programs for veterans and military families nationwide. All proceeds from sale of the song “Remember The Lost Ones” (the song is an auditory diary entry illustrating a day in the life of an active service member) will go to support the Lace Up AMERICA campaign.
Can you share how you learned to play the guitar while in the Marines during the Iraq War?
I actually picked up the guitar from a roommate I had while I was in Japan. I kept playing through my enlistment and even had a guitar shipped to me while I was in Iraq. I still have it to this day. I’ll never forget looking in the drivers side rearview mirror of a HMMWV (Humvee) and see that guitar and case tumbling down MSR Bronze in Iraq. I starting writing songs when I got back from Iraq just to make fun of friends at parties. Once my enlistment was up I came home and started playing open mic nights in College Station and anywhere else that I could get on stage.
If you were to create a playlist for those with healing hearts, which songs would be in the top 10? First song that came to my mind was Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”.
4. Ernest Tubb — Waltz Across Texas (My grandparents favorite song. I still see them dancing to it and hearing that song on the record player. It just makes me happy every time I hear it.)
6. Johnny Bush — Green Snakes (On The Ceiling) I have no idea what it’s about but it makes me laugh
How did you meet each of your current band members?
I’ve known my bass player Trent Procell for about 10 years or so. He always played in other bands, but I kept trying to get him to come play for me. Finally I convinced him to “Fill In” for about two weeks and he was hooked. He introduced me to our lead guitar player Zach Early and drummer Tyler Williamson who blew me away. These guys have great chemistry and are great musicians. Our fiddle, Dobro, xylophone, spoons, shoe string, and harmonica player Vic Andrews is a fellow Marine who answered an add I put on Craigslist. Lol! I couldn’t ask for a more talented, hard working, and easy going group of friends and musicians. You can quote me on this; It’s easy to find great musicians but it’s hard to find great band members.
All the band members write, play, and sing — collectively, what instruments do you play and which ones do you hope to add?
Everyone has a great knowledge and feel of music. Each of us dabble with other instruments but nothing that we would bring to the stage. Although, Trent is pretty good on piano and Vic can play pretty much anything with strings.
You won the “New Male Vocalist of the Year” at the 2018 Texas Regional Radio Annual Music Awards and “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Entertainer of the Year” at the 2017 Texas Country Music Awards. How has your home state shaped your songwriting?
If there was a picture of what my songwriting looked like it would probably be shaped like Texas. I am writing about what I know and things I have done or seen. Texas has been the majority of that. The pine trees, muddy rivers, and swampy areas of East Texas are what made me who I am.
Your top 10 all-time Texas country songs?
10. Randy Rogers Band….Literally anything by the Randy Rogers Band
How challenging was it to capture the energy of your live show for the new album?
Honestly, I let the band do their thing. I never want to put limitations on what they are feeling and hearing. However, that is where my wife/manager/producer/pretty much everything comes into play. She has an talent for knowing what is ear candy. Also, we have a great producer and engineer in Greg Hunt and Drew Hall at Rosewood Studios in Tyler TX. Those guys know how to bring out the magic hidden in the music.
Favorite Texas venue you’ve played?
Getting to play a show with Alan Jackson at the San Antonio Rodeo. It didn’t really set in until he walked on stage and started singing. Then all those memories from my childhood came back and I was speechless. I just sat there and listened. It was unbelievable.
What’s your motto or the advice you live by?
FAMILY FIRST!!!! Like Aaron Watson sang about in “Shut Up And Dance” How poor is a rich man who lives all alone.
How do you balance your music with other obligations?
Always keep family first. Money and possessions can’t pick you up when you fall and family can never be taken away from you.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing or playing?
Going camping, fishing, or just sitting on the couch with my family. They are my peace when life gets crazy.