“He was intimidated”: Why Jason Isbell thinks Ryan Adams backed out of producing his award-winning Southeastern record
The album was eventually produced by Dave Cobb in his Nashville home studio.
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Speaking to Uncut, Isbell – who released his latest album, Weathervanes, with his band The 400 Unit in June – says, “Initially Ryan Adams was going to produce with Glyn Johns, who was in LA. I’d been talking to Ryan; I thought he had booked a studio so bought tickets for me and the band. He had all these plans, we were going to record direct to tape with Glyn helping out. Then Glyn and Ryan had an argument and Glyn went home.
“I sent Ryan demos I’d made – these are on the re-release we are putting out in September – and all of a sudden he had something else he had to do. He couldn’t find the time. At the time I thought he didn’t like the songs but now I think it was the opposite, he was intimidated.”
Ultimately, Dave Cobb, who he’d recently met, agreed to record the album at his home studio in Nashville. It took a couple of weeks, and during that time Isbell wrote Super 8, after Cobb said the album needed a “boneheaded rock song”.
He goes on to explain that his writing process was different with Southeastern, primarily because he began working on the album after he got sober. He says, “When I was writing before, I’d get up at noon, have coffee, aspirin and some liquor, start writing at one and then at three or four it was time to go to the bar.
“With Southeastern I was getting up, making a pot of coffee and working until it was done. That meant I had 12 great songs instead of two.”
He finishes by explaining that he wanted sobriety to improve his work, and to have his sober self “competing” with his drunk self to be the best songwriter.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit are currently on tour in the US in support of Weathervanes. To grab tickets, head to his official website.