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Brad Paisley on illustrating his own music video and 'drawing naughty pictures'

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In a world where music videos have become full-on blockbusters, an animated version of a country superstar playing for adoring crowds and fighting villains in between may not seem exceptional. That’s the basic concept for Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It” video, which he released last month—but there’s more to it than that. “I’m the kid whose math test was covered in doodles,” tells EW as he explains the video, which features caricatures of himself and other country stars as superheroes that he drew himself. “I’m most comfortable not just being class clown, but the guy in the back of the room drawing naughty pictures.”

Paisley gave EW the full rundown about how the video for “Crushin’ It,” off last year’s Moonshine In The Trunk, came about:

If we’re in a business meeting at the record label, it’ll look like I’m taking notes, but you’ll see they’re probably caricatures. I’ve always had the ability to draw whatever I could see—it’s a weird thing. I could’ve had a fallback career in design or as one of the people at the Boardwalk drawing your caricature.

We had a concept [for the “Crushin’ It” video] that was a large undertaking and involved multiple locations and crushing things. It was probably going to be in the $200,000 range, as well as taking too long, and then safety concerns and crap like that. Finally I said to the record label, “Screw it, I’m just going to draw a video.” They had seen me do them in concert before, but I don’t think they ever realized they could actually have a plot. If I had said, “Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to parody superheroes and I’m going to create likenesses for my fellow country stars that look just like them,” I think they would’ve said, “You can’t do that,” even though you can legally. They would have been so nervous about that, because I know how they reacted when they got it—they were elated for five minutes and then scared to death for the next few days.

They said, “We want to run this by our artists.” I said, “No! You can’t start letting them give input! They’ll all be great. I’m friends with almost everybody in this. They’re all gonna laugh—but if you say, ‘Do you want bigger muscles?’ they’re going to want bigger muscles!” Darius [Rucker] is one of my best friends, and this is our exact text exchange: “I’m drawing a cartoon for my new video. You’re in it. What superpowers would you like to have?” He wrote back: “Flight and superstrength, thanks.” That’s it! It was the nerdiest exchange.

[The label] wouldn’t put it out, so eventually I put it out without them. They did some research and realized, “OK, we’re well within the all the boundaries.” I was thinking of all of that as I did it: It’s pure parody, it’s all in good fun, it’s not meant to be taken seriously. The point of this was to have a blast—and I’m having a great time. All of the artists have reached out and have been amazing.

Check out the video for “Crushin’ It” below.

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