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Virginia Madsen stars in The Lone Bellow's powerful new music video

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Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Pipkin—the trio of Brooklyn transplants who record soulful, sepia-toned folk-pop as The Lone Bellow—released their second acclaimed collection, Then Came the Morning, earlier this year. Today, EW is thrilled to premiere the video for the album’s latest single, “Fake Roses.”

The tune is an ode to Williams’ mother-in-law, and when he called EW to discuss the song and video—which stars the brilliant Virginia Madsen—the song’s story unraveled through his thoughtful anecdotes about how his mother-in-law and her sister came to be named, respectively, Edna and Fredna, and falling in love with his now-wife at 15-years-old. Here’s the tale of “Fake Roses” and its video, which is streaming below, in Williams’ own words:

“I met my wife at summer camp when we were twelve and I finally got up the nerve to come over for dinner one night, like three years later [laughs]. Edna was the first single mother that I ever met. I remember walking up and the lawn was super un-kept and I’m this 15-year-old boy who bush hogged fields, so it was weird to me. Then I walked into their house and a lot of the lights were off and that was even weirder. I just thought, ‘Man, this is crazy.’ And then I met Edna, and she is just this sweet, sweet soul. She was a nurse and started working days and nights when she and her husband split.”

“So then my wife and I became really good friends and it was one of those situations where I was very madly in love with her and she didn’t want anything to do with me. I was that really nice guy you would call to talk to about your boyfriend problems. But eventually, we started dating in our earlier twenties and got married young, at 22. A year into our marriage, she fell off one of my family’s horses and broke four vertebrae in her neck. Edna was so strong in the hospital. I would just watch her because if she had ever gotten scared, then I would have really gotten scared. When the doctor told me, ‘Your wife isn’t going to move from the neck down again, you need to ready yourself for this lifestyle,” Edna told me it was way too early for him to make that conclusion. She just always kept it together. I found out later that she would go cry in the ladies room and then put her make up before coming back to the room.”

“My wife miraculously healed—and that’s a long story in and of itself—but I had never written music until we were living in that hospital. When she healed, we and a bunch of friends decided we’d move up to New York to pursue whatever we wanted to do…so we basically all became waiters for several years [laughs]. And then two years ago, when I began writing for this album, Edna’s whole story just rushed in. And I started writing ‘Fake Roses’. And Edna and her sister Fredna—that’s right, Edna and Fredna—had gone through through tragic split ups at the same time so I imagined the chorus as a letter from one sister to the other. That’s where the lines, ‘Your heart is breaking / I hear what you’re saying / You don’t have to tell me anything’ comes from.”

“Now we only know a couple people in the movie/TV world, and one of them is this lady Sophia Bush. A few years ago I played a show at her house and Virginia Madsen was there. So when I was thinking for this video, I was like, ‘Sophia knows Virginia, I’m going to see how this goes.’ So I called her and told her that we basically didn’t have a budget but would she mind giving us three days and doing this. Immediately, she said yes.”

“Lafayette, Georgia has never seen people make films. They shot it in our hometown and Edna’s, her home that her grandfather had built. They let my 12-year-old nephew follow them around, and Virginia told him he was the director and she would ask him if she was crying in a perfect way, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I think you got it that time’ [laughs]. She was just so hospitable to my family. It was really a beautiful thing.”

“And the video is a little bleak, I know. It’s basically a drive home from work, but the lyrics are so clearly about her struggle. And it ends in my favorite diner, Louisa’s Diner, that has dusty largemouth bass hanging on the walls and always smells like 30-year-old bacon, where we shot the album cover as a celebration of the mundane. It was just an honor, a chance to celebrate a very quiet hero who would never tell her own story.”

See the video for “Fake Roses.”

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