We finish off this week chock full of USA WEEKEND Breakthrough Video of the Year nominees with the one who racked up the most CMT Music Awards nods. The Band Perry — comprised of siblings Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry — are also up for Video of the Year and Group Video of the Year for the hit If I Die Young, as well as the Nationwide Insurance On Your Side Award honoring country music’s best new live act. (The filmmaker behind the very cinematic video, David McClister, is also up for Video Director of the Year.) “It’s our first round through this awards cycle, and it’s just really cool,” says singer Kimberly Perry. “We never really know when the nominations are coming down for any of these award shows. We didn’t have any idea we’d be nominated in so any categories. And we’re grateful to CMT for playing the heck out of our videos!” And like any bunch of modern musical youngsters, there’s more than just country music on The Band Perry bus, as the Beatles, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Avett Brothers, Jason Aldean and Lady Gaga all compete for iPod space. The trio checked in from the road recently to talk about the video for If I Die Young, hanging with family and who they hope to share a stage with one day. Read below for our conversation, and check out the video for If I Die Young. If you dig it, or any of the other nominees, be sure to vote at CMT.com. And remember, the CMT Music Awards air live on CMT this Wednesday.
Photo courtesy of Republic Nashville, USA TODAY
If I Die Young really has quickly put you on the country map.
Kimberly: It’s a really amazing thing. It’s a little bit hard for us to gauge even just looking at things like chart numbers and sales. The place that we’ve most tangibly noticed what that song has accomplished for the three of us is in two places. First of all, our live shows. We’re out on the road with Tim McGraw now and 7 o’clock on the downbeat of our set, the arenas are already full. It’s like, well, I know we’re getting the room warmed up but I think a lot of folks are here to see The Band Perry. We really credit that song as our giant hello and our open door to those fans. The second place we really notice it is walking through airports. It’s really hard to walk in a public place these days and not be noticed. Of course, we worked 10 years to get to do things like sign autographs and take pictures in the middle of airports and Walmarts. It makes our whole lives.
Did you film the video in Nashville?
Reid: We filmed that at Two Rivers Mansion in Nashville, about a week before the flood in Nashville about a year ago. It apparently was one of the only videos made in the past 15 years there, and was the last one that I know of.
Kimberly: It’s this amazing mansion. Some of the walls were painted with these fascinating murals, and there was even this one picture of a lady, who was the matriarch of this house. Apparently she haunts the place every now and then. We got started at like 4:30 in the morning with hair and makeup, and it was a long day. Luckily, we didn’t bump into the matriarch of the house, but it’s a really special place. Of course, all the shrubbery out front was of just perfect for the video, and it holds a very dear place in our hearts.
Kimberly, did you feel weird getting into a canoe and just floating out into water?
Kimberly: The only thing I was nervous about is the boys pushing me in so hard that I would actually get wet. [Laughs]
Neil: That was actually the part of the day that Reid and I were most excited about. As we were getting ready to push her into the water, David McClister came up to us, threw his arms around us and said, “Now, guys, this is just gonna be a slow, gentle push into the water. Just take it easy.” But Reid and I enjoyed that a lot.
Kimberly: Y’all took advantage of the situation! The song was written as a contemplation, and I just really loved the scene where I was clearly in the boat. My eyes were open and I’m singing, I’m clearly alive, but it was almost to me like the place that I was daydreaming about creating the lyric of that song. It really put a visual to the contemplation.
Because you wrote the song and it was probably personal for you, were you heavily involved in crafting the video?
Kimberly: Absolutely. The three of us were really hands on. That’s just a really amazing testament to our team. They really give us a lot of creative rope, if you will. One thing I love about the If I Die Young video is really the color scheme. There’s so much green in the video, which of course is the color of life and vitality but also youth. So everything from making that dominant color to casting the love interest and the mother, we were all really hands on with. I liked casting the love interest because, literally, David McClister sent us a look book. I was flipping through the pages of these handsome men and finally picked one, and I was like, “Man, why can’t real life be a little bit more like this?!” [Laughs] It was a really cool experience. It was the culmination of a decade’s worth of work leading up to a special moment that day cutting arguably our favorite song on the album.
While Kimberly was in the boat most of the video, Neil and Reid are running through grass along a hill. Did you guys get tired after a while?
Reid: It was all running downhill, but having to go back and reset the scene did get a little tiring. Fortunately, Neil are pretty good runners, so we didn’t have to do too many takes.
Neil: I tell you what was the most tiring of all the day: Carrying that canoe all over the place. I think David just had a good time free-cutting the scene over and over again just to see us carry that canoe everywhere.
Kimberly: If I remember, it was like the coldest day of spring last year. We actually called it “blackberry winter.” The video was very spring-y and we’re all in short sleeves and all that, but it was really chilly. If you look at any of the behind-the-scenes cut, we’re just in blankets.
Neil: And the mansion had no heat as well, so it was freezing in there, too.
Do you guys like making videos? It’s a different kind of creativity than performing and writing.
Neil: When we write our songs, we’re actually thinking of how the music video will look. Somewhere deep inside the three of us, we all want to be actors and actresses. Music videos are a ways to live out the actors in us.
Kimberly: I think we just like music that’s very visual, and there’s this certain feeling we like to portray with each of our songs. If we can translate that into a music video, it’s the perfect marriage between the music and the visual.
If I Die Young has reached a lot of your fans, especially the younger ones, with the lyrics and music. Is that cool to know that one of your first songs out of the boat — no pun intended — was this really powerful thing for a lot of people?
Kimberly: It’s been a really amazing song because of the transcendent nature. It’s amazing to come to a signing line and have a little 2-year-old come up and sing the words to the song, and then turn around and have a 60-year-old woman come through and sing the lyrics. It’s just crossed so many age ranges and even genres. We’re out at pop radio with it right now and it’s doing well, so yeah, it’s always amazing to have a piece of music that you really poured your heart and soul into reach people. I almost feel like at this point it belongs to everybody else. Folks have truly accepted it into their hearts and allowed it to bring healing or challenge them. In any way they needed it, the song has become a soundtrack for so many different folks, and it’s just really humbling to be part of that.
Is it a positive to embarking on this kind of career with your siblings and be able to look out for each other?
Kimberly: I think it is.
Reid: We’ve been doing this going on 13 years, so it’s the only way we’ve ever done music. We’ve been able to figure out how to get out of each other’s hair whenever that needs to happen, but it’s also great because growing up, we had the same ideas and ideals so we agree on a lot of stuff creatively and business-wise.
Kimberly: That’s not true. They all stay up in my hair constantly. My hair’s a mess! They just kind of get tangled there. Neil likes to sum up working together in one phrase.
Neil: We know each other like the back of our hand, and sometimes we have to use the back of our hand. And we still love each other at the end of the day.
Kimberly: We do. Our mother travels with us. We’re all in our 20s now, so we try to be mature and call it “discussions,” not disagreements.
Neil: It’s more of an adult word.
Kimberly: Our mother plays referee and we have boxing gloves stored in the bays of our bus, so we get along just fine. Sometimes after a few punches.
Kimberly, you were just a teenager when you started with all this.
Kimberly: Yeah, I was 15 and Reid was 10 years old and Neil was 8 when we all got started. We were in two separate bands at the time, mainly because of height logistics — they were about half my height at the time. So we ended up teaming up as The Band Perry about six years after we began. It was just the right time for us to become the family band. That was really always the plan. We just had to wait on things like just them growing up and getting as tall as me and just growing musically together as well.
Do each of you have a favorite country music video?
Kimberly: One of my favorites is another David McClister-directed one, LeAnn Rimes’ Nothin’ Better to Do. I just love everything about that video.
Neil: I’d say that’s mine as well. It reminds me of O Brother Where Art Thou. And I love the color scheme and how the director was able to shoot the last Dixie Chicks video.
Kimberly: Not Ready to Make Nice. We love the color scheme of that, too. There are really powerful statements in that video. Those are the two that we’ve always been attracted to.
So far, what’s been your favorite part of this whole musical journey?
Kimberly: For us, it’s an amazing way to spend a life, to get to sing country songs with country music lovers night after night. It just never ceases to amaze us when they’re showing up for our sets out here with Tim, but we’re doing a lot of our headlining shows as well. We’re not used to people showing up to hear us play. I’m always excited when the room fills up. I don’t think that we’ll ever get over that. It’s an amazing experience to share country songs with the folks. They’re our stories, they’re their stories, and it’s such a special thing.
Who would you most want to share a stage with?
Kimberly: We would love to do a CMT Crossroads at some point with — you ready for this, this is dreaming big — Keith Richards, Loretta Lynn and The Band Perry. When we grew up our dad was a rock ’n’ roll lover, so he used to sing us to sleep with Rolling Stones songs. And our mother is a country fan, she loved Loretta, so we’ve always stood at the middle of the crossroads of country music and rock ’n’ roll. So if we ever had the opportunity to put all our heroes in one room, that would be it.
Neil: We could quit and go home.