The Eli Young Band’s dramatic new video, “Even if It Breaks Your Heart,” tells the story of a dreamer determined to make it big in the music world. Last year, the Texas-based band did exactly that, as “Crazy Girl” became the most-played single at country radio in 2011.
They’re following that breakthrough success with “Even if It Breaks Your Heart,” the lead track on their latest album, Life at Best. CMT hosted the world premiere of the video on Friday (Jan. 12). The four-man band shot it in the heart of downtown Nashville with director Brian Lazzaro.
Calling in prior to a concert in Virginia, drummer Chris Thompson talks about setting up his drum kit in the guitar shop, the true-to-life lyrics of the song (which was co-written by Will Hoge and Eric Paslay) and the explosive surprise at the end of the video.
CMT: What do you remember the most about the day you shot the video?
Thompson: We shot it at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. I remember walking in and being overwhelmed by all the awesome guitars on the wall. Being a drummer, you know, I always keep my eye out for more drums, but when I see a beautiful guitar, I think it does the same thing for me that an awesome-sounding drum would do. It was a lot of fun to set up the only drum set in a vintage guitar shop! (laughs)
For people who have not heard the song yet, how would you describe the message of it?
It’s the message and the story of the band. It’s twofold. Lyrically, the story relates to what the four of us have been through, developing our career — slowly, gradually building this thing. But the underlying message of the storyline is hope and optimism. We’ve always had a lot of hope and optimism in what we’ve done, and we’ve always believed in ourselves and tried to keep pushing to see what’s around the corner. We’re shooting for the next biggest thing, and I think that’s the key to our success over a long amount of time together.
This song has such a groove to it. Is that part of the reason the band was drawn to it?
Absolutely, it absolutely was. We first heard Will Hoge’s version of the song. We were like, “Let’s not get ourselves in the way of this song. Let’s keep it really true to what he was doing with it and his musical vision of the song.” I think that’s part of what drew us to it from the get-go. But on top of that, once we recorded the song, it really set the tone for the rest of the album. I think it was one of the first three songs we recorded for this record. Once we heard it in playback, it was like, “Let’s keep going down this road.” It was a Tom Petty vibe, a sort of stripped-down, rock ’n’ roll thing. I think that inspired a lot of the sounds on the rest of the album.
Were you all pretty excited about the pyrotechnics in the video?
How can you not be excited about pyrotechnics?! (laughs) I guess if you’re Brooks & Dunn and you’ve had pyrotechnics in five videos or something, you could not be as excited. But for us, it was like the coolest thing ever. We’ve never had anything like that in a video. They had to have a safety demonstration done before we started filming, and then we only had three takes with the pyro. It was intense. I remember the first moment it went off, we all tightened up a little bit and cringed because we didn’t know when it was going to happen. … Some of that first take, those are the wider shots, where you can’t see our faces going, “Oh my gosh!!” (laughs)
What was going through your mind when you got to see the finished product?
Actually, all four of us commented that we had chills by the end of the video. I think Brian had it right from the get-go, and we just had some minor tweaks here and there. It’s a fun video, and it captures the four of our personalities. But more than that, I think that message of hope and optimism really comes through. That hit home with us when we first watched it.