Michael Ray knew he wanted his new video for “Whiskey and Rain” to have a ’90s country vibe, although the director he had in mind likely didn’t grow up glued to CMT. However, having Sean Hagwell behind the camera ultimately gave the project a throwback vibe and modern sheen at the same time.
“When we were going through who we wanted as director, I just had a feeling that Sean would be the right guy. I think he has a way of hearing a song and bringing a story to it,” Ray tells CMT.com. “I don’t think Sean really grew up on a lot of ’90s country or that style, and he really dove into it and studied a lot of those videos from back in the day to get the look and feel I wanted it to have. He brought a great look to something that was kind of new to him.”
Written by Jesse Frasure and Josh Thompson, the radio-friendly “Whiskey and Rain” could easily be mistaken for a ’90s outtake by one of Ray’s musical heroes. And of course longtime country fans already know that the brooding old man in the alley at the end can signal only one thing — a cinematic sequel.
Take a look at Michael Ray’s “Whiskey and Rain,” the first single from his upcoming third album. Then read our interview below the player.
What do you remember most about the shoot for this video?
Our director Sean Hagwell and his whole team has a really great way of creating a fun and easy atmosphere. The entire day was such a good time. We shot the video in an old abandoned restaurant that we were lucky enough to shoot in before they started remodeling. I remember walking in and being blown away at how they turned it into an old honkytonk in just a few hours. It looked like it had been that way for years.
How does the video bring your song to life?
One thing we really wanted to make sure we captured was a feeling similar to what artists in the ’90s did with their videos. You know, like Tracy Lawrence and Travis Tritt. They were doing something different. When those videos came out, you made sure you saw it because they were taking the music video game to the next level. It was really important for Sean and me both to have as much of that influence as we could. So hopefully people get a nostalgic feeling and it makes them think about those guys.
What message do you hope your fans take away from the video?
We wanted the video to show that going through rough spots in life can open you up to different people and their situations. Maybe you can listen to their stories for a while. I think the video reflects the depth of the song, and it shows how sometimes the negative things in life can bring people together.
How did it feel to see the finished product for the first time?
It was a good feeling to see it come to life. Sean is such a skilled director, and his vision is pretty much always spot on. In the moment, I don’t know how the visuals are going to look, but Sean does. You just have to go with your director’s gut and their eye. And for me, not knowing how a lot of those visuals were going to look until I saw them, just made it that much better seeing it all come together. And his whole team is so talented that we had very few edits. We tweaked a few things and took a couple things out, but for the most part, the video is the first edit.
Songwriters: Jesse Frasure and Josh Thompson; Director: Sean Hagwell