Country superstar Trace Adkins has years of experience making music videos. In fact, CMT.com features over 20 of them — running the gamut from sentimental to downright comical. His collection ranges from the nostalgic (“Then They Do,” “You’re Gonna Miss This” ), spiritual (“All I Ask for Anymore,” “Muddy Water” ), patriotic (“Arlington” ), and lovesick (“I Can’t Outrun You,” “Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone” ) to humorous favorites such as “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Hillbilly Bone.”
His latest project, “Brown Chicken Brown Cow,” takes his video catalog to a whole new level — puppets.
Adkins, who serves as the narrator during the video, sings a tale of two lovers, Bobby Jo and Betty (also puppets), who make a habit of running off to the barn for some alone time. The farm animals, including the brown chicken and brown cow, have front row seats to their farmers’ escapades.
“We’ve done the literal interpretations of the videos with the hot chick and the whole thing,” Adkins said of his past videos. “The other ones, I mean, with no disrespect to Michael, we’ve done those.”
Michael Salomon, the video director of “Brown Chicken Brown Cow,” has directed several of Adkins’ video projects in the past including “This Ain’t No Love Song,” “Marry for Money” and “Swing.” Adkins said of their conversation about the new video, “Let’s do something different this time. Plus, I didn’t hardly have to be in the video, so it was great. Perfect.”
Adkins recently stopped by the CMT offices where he shared his thoughts on the tongue-in-cheek video as well as his critics. He also discussed his ACM video of the year nomination for “Hillbilly Bone,” his witty collaboration with Blake Shelton, and his career as an actor. In the upcoming film, The Lincoln Lawyer, he is cast as a biker club leader who relies on the expertise of an attorney portrayed by actor Matthew McConaughey.
Let’s talk about your current single, “Brown Chicken Brown Cow.” How did this idea of using the puppets come to fruition? Was it your idea?
No. Michael Salomon, who I’ve done a lot of videos with, when we solicited ideas for this video, he sent us this thing, and it was like five or six pages. On the first couple of pages was his No. 1 idea. … And so he spent a couple of pages explaining that one. And then his second idea, there were a couple of pages explaining that one. [The] third idea maybe had one page, and then the fourth idea was literally like one sentence and it said, “No. 4 — or we could just use puppets.” (laughs) And I called him back and said, “Let’s do the puppet thing, man.” And he said, “Wow, I never in a million years thought you would go with the puppet thing.”
With that predominant guitar riff and the sexual innuendos throughout, have you caught any flack for the song?
Oh, God, yeah.
The purists and the traditionalists all think that I’m such an embarrassment to this genre. It just makes them projectile vomit, you know. The idea that I’m actually a Grand Ole Opry member and put out this vile, heathenistic, s**t. Yeah, so what?
You don’t mind stirring the controversy with your music.
No! I do what I want to do, and I’ve got five daughters and a beautiful wife, and if I can look at myself in the mirror at night and know that I haven’t done anything to bring any disgrace or disappointment upon them, then I’m good. Anybody else that has a problem with it, then that’s your problem.
You’re nominated alongside Blake Shelton for ACM video of the year for “Hillbilly Bone.” What do you remember most about making this video?
Blake was drunk. He was drunk from the time that we started, much less the end of it. He was drunk at the very beginning of it, so I just laughed at him all day long. We had fun doing it. Hanging out with Blake is always going to be fun.
Are you surprised the video has gotten as much recognition as it has? The recording was up for a Grammy, too.
Sometimes those things do surprise you because you spend half a day in a little restaurant, down at the Stockyards here in Nashville, and we literally just goofed off all day, and it got nominated for awards and stuff. And you go, “Wow.” (laughs) It’s amazing how things happen.
Let’s switch gears to your acting. Your character, Eddie Vogul, in The Lincoln Lawyer is the leader of a biker club. How much of a stretch was it for you to play this role?
The portrayal of the character was just pretty much me being myself and being the leader of a biker gang. I just read it the way I felt it. I don’t think it was much of a stretch. I could be the leader of a biker gang.
Are there aspects of your musical career that also help prepare you for the big screen?
Hmm. … After so many videos, you do get a little bit of a sense of what it’s like on a bigger scale, on a grander scale — a big budget movie. That’s really what it is. It’s a video that stretches into a couple of months. (laughs)
What was it like working alongside Matthew McConaughey?
He was great. The time I spent with Matthew, we visited together and talked about home. We grew up maybe 75 miles apart. He’s an East Texas boy. We talked about [how] I worked in the oil field. His father worked in the oil field. His father was an oil field guy, and we just come from that same part of the country.
Did you talk about music at all?
A little bit. We talked about this act that he and Woody [Harrelson] are trying to promote. … It’s kind of a reggae thing.
Did he play the bongos?
He didn’t get the bongos out. I was kind of happy about that because I heard he plays them naked, and I didn’t really want to get into that whole thing because then I’d have to get the guitar. And I’d have had to play naked to make him feel comfortable, you know, because I want to make people feel comfortable. So I’d of had to get naked and play the guitar, and it probably could have been a publicity disaster.