When Eric Dodd began working on his debut EP, Fun / Fire / Rain, he knew there was only one man he wanted heading things up as producer: Jesse Triplett, his former high school bandmate and close friend.

"I knew he was the man for the job," Dodd tells The Boot. "I didn't really consider anyone else."

With Triplett -- who is now the lead guitarist for rock band Collective Soul -- at the helm, Dodd crafted a six-song project, out Friday (Sept. 16), that will draw comparisons to, at different points, Jason Aldean ("Outskirts"), Cole Swindell ("Relapse") and Thomas Rhett ("Damn Love"). The songs are Dodd's, but because of their long relationship, the singer-songwriter trusted Triplett to take things in directions he himself may not have.

"We've had an incredible working relationship and friendship, and I really trusted him with this, and he heard my vision and what I wanted sonically, and he's just an incredibly creative guy and really fun to work with," Dodd says of his producer. "We don't feel like we're working; we cut up a lot and make it fun. And he was such a big part of helping me find the right sounds for this particular EP."

Take, for example, the EP-closing "Burned": In Dodd's mind, the song was meant to be an upbeat rocker, but Triplett asked him to keep it slower and low-key. The artist calls the finished product "intriguing," noting that there are "a lot of unique sounds to be found" in the mix.

"[Triplett] honestly sold me on that one, and that ended up being one of my favorite ones," Dodd admits. "He nailed the production, and I kind of stayed out of the way on that one because I trusted that he would do the song justice."

The retro-leaning "Damn Love" precedes "Burned" on Fun / Fire / Rain -- "a refreshing moment," Dodd says, inspired by the Jason Isbell songs they had been listening to before recording it. Dodd selected the country-rock-oriented "Outskirts" as his lead single, though, "to give listeners something a little more hard-hitting out of the gate."

Rock is what Dodd and Triplett did as bandmates, anyhow: Growing up in Lake Oconee, Ga., the two, along with two other high school friends, formed Vernacular, a hard rock band inspired by acts such as Sevendust and Linkin Park. (Dodd's own musical influences run the gamut from Johnny Cash, Robert Earl Keen and Hank Williams to Nirvana, Van Morrison and Eminem.)

"We thought we were pretty cool -- small-town heroes, for sure ... or at least we thought that," Dodd admits with a laugh. The group -- which also included producer and drummer Tom DuPree III and Dodd's current bass player -- disbanded after high school graduation, "which is probably a good thing," according to Dodd.

"We had to figure some things out on our own ... We needed probably a little humility and to grow on our own," he adds. "I think we thought we were a little better than we were.

"But you gotta start somewhere, right?"

Dodd's Fun / Fire / Rain EP is available for download on iTunes.

Watch Eric Dodd's "Outskirts" Music Video

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