Eric Church Returns to Prison for His Latest Music Video
Revisiting the former Tennessee State Prison, the setting for his music video for 'Lightning,' Eric Church was at the empty and somewhat ghostly facility once again on Wednesday (April 13) to shoot the video for his latest single, 'Homeboy.' When you make the drive down the path and see the majestic "castle," the beauty of the architecture nearly takes your breath away. But as you make the drive around the building, you notice the stark quarters that once housed numerous hardened criminals.
The imposing prison, which was also the setting for the films 'The Green Mile' and 'The Last Castle,' is the perfect place to shoot scenes for Eric's new video. "I've been here twice now, and it's just a heavy place, which I like," Eric tells The Boot. "I know as musicians, you pick up on energy when you write songs and you perform, and the same thing happens when you shoot videos in a place that's got a little bit of heaviness. It certainly happened with 'Lightning,' and there's a little bit of heaviness in 'Homeboy,' in the message. I like that heaviness. I don't know if some people would listen to that and pick up on that. There's a little bit of that in the song, and you're going to get it in this video."
When looking at proposals for the music video, the North Carolina native knew what he wanted for the clip. "I looked for a couple of things. It's a powerful song. And when [director] Peter Zavidil sent in the treatment, it's a powerful video," says Eric. "A lot of it's in slow-motion. There's a lot of weird things going on, the videography and the way he's shooting it in slow-motion. It's really neat. It's unlike anything, country music video-wise, that's been done. He's using a new technology with a camera system. It looks wild.
"I also wanted it not to be literal," he continues. "I told him, 'I don't want to be the older brother. I don't want it to be on a farm. I want people to be able to look at this video and write their own conclusion, to draw their picture. I don't want to feed it to them. I want them to apply it to their life. Peter did a great job of that. He shows the kid that's got off on the wrong path. He shows it's a short stay [in prison]. He shows the mother picking him up at the end. You get the sense that if this kid doesn't change his ways, he's going to end up here for a long time, but we don't go literal with it. That's what I liked about this one the most."
If Eric isn't playing one of the brothers in the song, what will his role be in the video? "Basically performance," he notes. "They're going to shoot me in some other scenes with pictures getting taken of me and stuff, because it looked really cool in the slow-motion with the camera flashes. Other than that, we're going to breathe in the asbestos and do the best we can."
Asbestos? That's pretty dangerous stuff that can cause respiratory ailments and even death! "It's funny, when we shot 'Lightning' here, I walked in and everybody had on masks but me," recalls Eric. "The director was yelling at me through the mask: 'Cut!' I said, 'Wait a minute. This is not the way it should go. Why am I the only one without a mask on? At least if you're going to say 'Cut,' take your freaking mask off!' I don't know, it's just an occupational hazard, I guess."
Standing in the outside courtyard at dusk, near what was once the building housing death row inmates -- complete with tall fences and barbed-wire topping still intact and the slightly peeling paint on the walls, the singer discussed the eerie feeling of the former prison. "When we shot 'Lightning,' we were here at night, and actually we're close to dark here. In a few hours, this place takes on a whole other level, because there's not much power here," explains Eric. "So, the shadows, it gets straight up creepy. We're getting out of here! I've got a show. I'm not staying here. We've got a show in North Carolina, so I'll tell them it's a 50-hour drive. We've got to leave yesterday to get there. Let's go!"
Which this interviewer quickly did before the sun went down completely! In the meantime, Eric is hitting the road and the airwaves with his latest single, 'Homeboy.' The video should be arriving on the small screen in the coming weeks. Catch Eric on tour with Toby Keith's Locked & Loaded trek, which kicks off in Mount Pleasant, Mich., on June 30.