Brian McComas Moves Forward With Certainty

(Brian McComas performs Saturday (July 19) on CMT Most Wanted Live and Grand Ole Opry Live. MWL airs at 7 p.m., followed by Opry Live at 8 p.m. All times are ET/PT.)

Director Brent Hedgecock took the lyrics to heart when he came up with the video for Brian McComas’ new single, “99.9 % Sure (I’ve Never Been Here Before).” Written by Billy Austin and Greg Barnhill, the song begins, “You don’t know what you do to me/You changed around the scenery.”

“Brent said, ‘We’re going to change around the scenery as much as we can,’” McComas tells about shooting the clip. “We were all over California. We had 20 different locations that we went to. We averaged four or five locations a day over four days. We were never resting.”

McComas soon learned that it was difficult to mix business with pleasure when the video shoots began at 6 a.m. and continued until after 10 p.m. “My wife’s in the video,” McComas explains. “I took her with me just to hopefully get to spend a little time together. By the time the trip was over, I felt like I hadn’t seen her.”

Thanks to the video, however, the public is seeing McComas and making the connection between his name, his face and a song. “That connection is crucial,” McComas says. “If people can hear a song every day, it’s one thing. But if people can hear a song and see you sing it, that’s just all the better. Radio is wonderful. It’s the root of our format because that’s where everything starts. But having a video helps even more these days than people realize.”

The song, currently No. 12 on the Billboard country singles chart, was one of hundreds McComas auditioned before deciding on the final five songs for his self-titled second album, set for release Tuesday (July 22). “I guess we had gone through 1,200 songs,” he says. “I let my wife hear it, and we were both humming it and singing it to each other. I thought, ‘If I’ve heard 1,200 songs and I’m humming and singing this one, then I might think about cutting it.’”

Unlike most songwriters in Nashville, McComas did not collaborate with co-writers for the four original songs appearing on his new album. “That’s not on purpose,” says the father of three. “That’s just kind of how it’s happened. When things settle down at my house, it’s usually late at night. I’m sitting there at 1 or 2 in the morning with nothing else to do.” He laughs, adding, “If I called anybody to co-write with me, they’d probably get mad.”

“99 % Sure” is proving to be an excellent calling card during a series of shows with Rascal Flatts, Jo Dee Messina and John Michael Montgomery. For every show with bigger acts on large stages, however, McComas is making two club appearances.

“We usually have an anchor date and build two around them,” he says. “It makes you appreciate those larger venues, but it also trains you in so many ways. As a band, it helps you get better. You learn every single night you’re onstage, and that’s kind of the idea behind our organization: Work your tail off. Play the game and the score will take care of itself.”

He returns to the Grand Ole Opry for guest appearances Friday and Saturday (July 18-19). “I can feel the ghosts when I walk out on that stage,” McComas says. “People talk about church sometime and say, ‘The church isn’t a building. It’s what’s in your heart.’ To me, that’s the meaning of the Opry. It’s not the building. It’s what it means. It’s just the coolest feeling in the world. The first time I played there, I cried like a baby.”

McComas’ first Opry appearance was especially symbolic for a musician who lived in the Ozarks before moving to Nashville to attempt a career in country music. “The first time I ever stepped into the Opry House was when I played it,” he says. “I told myself that I would not step into that building until I played it. It took me nine years to get there. It was not only because I was playing the Opry, because that meant a lot to me. It was because it was the culmination of nine years of waiting.”

Now that he’s getting a taste of the Opry, he wants even more. “I love that place,” McComas says. “I want to step on that stage as many times as I can. That’s the pinnacle, to me.”

Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.