By Brian Ives
Eric Paslay is preparing to release his next album, Dressed in Black, and he’s introduced the album with a song that is country music’s answer to “Uptown Funk”: “High Class.” He tells Radio.com that after his last single, “She Don’t Love You”, a heartbreaking ballad from his 2014 self-titled debut, fans weren’t necessarily expecting something so upbeat.
“We were just thinking ‘Let’s write a fun song,'” he says. “I probably should be smart enough to think, ‘Let’s just rip off some people,’ but that wasn’t our goal at all. But I’m glad people are digging it. I actually get to shake it on the stage now. Like I’ve always been known as the songwriter hiding behind the guitar, which… I write songs, and I love doing that, but I’m thrilled to death that I’m finally getting to sing ’em myself and busting out some dance moves for everybody.”
The dance moves have also taken many by surprise: he says that earlier this year, he played a music industry event and performed the song. “And we did ‘High Class’ acoustic, and I brought my guitar, and my band’s looking at me like ‘Why are you playing your guitar, man?’ And like, ‘Well hey, y’all are great, I don’t have to play [guitar], do I?'”
“Sure enough, I just got up there and shook it. And I recognize all the faces [in the audience]. They’re going [makes amazed face] “He can dance! Holy—! But it was fun for me watching that, and it’s just been a lot of fun shaking it for the fans that usually see me just standing up there with a guitar and trying to shake it as much as I can with a guitar. But I’m grateful that the way we’re introducing this new album is me rocking it a little bit and kind of stirring it up a bit.”
The video, he says, was a tribute to a scene in Goodfellas: the one where all the characters are introduced in one long shot. “Yeah, we made the video in Nashville. [But] It was six shots. I was like, ‘You know the Diet Coke Heineken commercials where you’re like, “Where the heck is that? This isn’t even real, but let’s go there?”‘”
There’s also a lot of special guests in the video: “My band and my brother and Charles Kelley, Maddie & Tae, Kristian Bush, they’re all kinda in there, my wife’s in it, and we just had a lot of fun making it. I’m glad that it came off really well. That’s the first type of video that I’ve made like that where you had to nail every second and every movement of throwing keys and pulling out a credit card with a hundred dollar bill behind it. It was just a lot of fun.”
“We didn’t rehearse it at all. I showed up, and it was like, ‘How ’bout if I throw my keys on valet and go, ‘Credit on my cards, money in the bank?’ So that was me kinda adding some difficulty to making the video. But I think that first shot probably took about five or six times.”
Was there any thought to doing the video in one long shot? “Like OK Go?” Paslay laughs. “No, we didn’t do that. There are times where it kind of flips back and forth from the live shot to the dancing around rocking with some guys with canes. But it’s just a lot of fun. I think the biggest thing is: I’m entertained, and I think anybody that watches the video’s entertained, and that is a side of me that people haven’t seen yet.”
Dressed in Black is due out this summer.