Brantley Gilbert’s unique fusion of country and rock, which has been referred to as “new outlaw country,” gets fans jumping out of their seats
and onto the dance floor. And Gilbert has been on the move too. In addition to touring with Toby Keith for his Overdrive tour this summer, the Jefferson, Ga. native has been nominated for the CMT Music Awards’ USA WEEKEND Breakthrough Video of the Year Award for his song Country Must Be Country Wide, which was co-written by Brantley, Colt Ford and Mike Dekle. Gilbert gave us an inside look at his nominated video, his hobbies and how his passion for music sparked.
What was going through your head when you heard you were nominated for USA WEEKEND Breakthrough Video of the Year award?
Brantley Gilbert: I was actually sick as a dog! I was in bed. My manager called me and it made me feel better.
You co-wrote Country Must Be Country Wide. Were you heavily involved in mapping out what you wanted in the video?
Gilbert: Definitely. You know Shane [director Shane Drake] had his direction, but once he conveyed to me what his thoughts were I had some ideas. But he was the mastermind of the whole thing.
You were in a near-fatal car accident when you were 19, which made you want to put everything you had into music. How does it feel to know your changed perspective contributed to your music career?
Gilbert: I was one of those kids that thought you know it could never happen to me. It did and it just changed perspective for me and a lot of different aspects of my life. I was seeing things with new eyes. It really just made me realize every second could be my last. And I think following this music thing is really what I felt like I was led to do. And here we are.
Everyone in your video has your initials “BG” somewhere on their body – whether it’s a tattoo, stamp, or bracelet. What did you want your fans to take from this symbolism?
Gilbert: It’s kind of a fan club. It’s our support group called BG Nation. It’s a symbol of how big everything is getting and how supportive the followers have been.
What was the most exciting part of filming the video?
Gilbert: We did it at the abandoned Tennessee State Penitentiary. So the location was pretty cool! We put up on Facebook at the last minute about where the location was. So people flew in and drove in from all over the country and tailgated out there until it was time to go in. That was pretty neat. We put it on our web site the day before too.
When did your passion for music begin?
Gilbert: Oh wow! It was definitely when I was a kid. I was always a little rock star in my mind. I had a little plastic microphone and a plastic guitar. My mom said I used to put on shows in my room by myself. I was not very good, but I thought I was awesome! But I started off playing in the Christian music business.
Which musical artists inspire you? Do you have any musical idols?
Gilbert: I’ve been asked that question about a million times and I’ve never really been able to put my finger on just one. If someone takes the time to go through the creative process of making a song, there’s something in there that can motivate, drive or inspire you. So I think anything I’ve ever heard has been an inspiration in some way, form or fashion.
You have a newer song out called You Don’t Know Her Like I Do. What do you want fans to know about the meaning of that song?
Gilbert: It’s a true story. It’s about a girl I was on and off with for a long time. And, needless to say, it’s off right now. [laughs] You know how [when you are ending a relationship] people tell you that you’re bad for each other or it’s just not meant to be. … The song is about staying hardheaded and staying with it. Just hoping it will work out.
Your fans have been known for being rowdy – why do you think that is?
Gilbert: [laughs] I don’t know! I guess my fans are a lot like me and I’m rowdy! I think it rubs off a little bit!
How would you describe your music?
Gilbert: People have been calling it “new outlaw country.” It’s a good blend between country and rock. It’s kind of going in its own direction
What’s next for you?
Gilbert: Well we’re going to Eric Church’s tour right now and when that’s over we’re taking two weeks off and then we’ll be going out with Mr. Toby Keith, so we’re looking forward to that!
USA WEEKEND is proud to join CMT again for their awards as the media sponsor for the Breakthrough Video of the Year Award.
Take a look at the six nominees and cast your vote today! Then, tune in to the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday, June 6 at 8pm ET on CMT. (Check local listings.)
– McKenna Grant