Wade Bowen puts his fans front and center in the rowdy new music video for the stomping “Fell in Love on Whiskey.” And for good reason, too: After a forced hiatus last summer to recover from vocal surgery, the Texas country vet is grateful simply to be back on the road.
Directed by Jordan Thiem, “Fell in Love on Whiskey” was shot during an array of live performances, including ones at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas, and the Basement East in Nashville. Flashing between scenes of Bowen and his audience, it’s a lively, colorful blur of activity that contrasts sharply with his three-month convalescence in 2018, which came shortly after the release of his LP Solid Ground.
With further plans to re-release Solid Ground on vinyl (including a bonus track called “Yours Alone”) as well as a documentary slated for later in the year that chronicles his 2018 struggles, Rolling Stone Country spoke to Bowen about the story behind the new video.
Was last year’s sabbatical part of the reason for wanting to highlight your fans in “Fell in Love on Whiskey”?
100 percent. When you have something you love that’s almost taken away from you, you definitely learn to appreciate it even more. [Playing music] really did almost get taken away from me. I was really uncertain whether I’d ever be able to sing again. To say I’m having fun playing music right now is a huge understatement. I’m maybe having the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire career.
What exactly was the timeline of your vocal issues?
It was right around the album release for Solid Ground. We released the album in February, then I started having some issues around the end of March. It was a critical time for me to be out, but I obviously didn’t have a choice. The doctor wanted me to [be out for longer], but I just told him, “Hey, look, I’m broke. I gotta go work.”
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And the documentary you’re working on centers around the issue of physical and mental health for musicians, doesn’t it?
I want people to know what all we went through as a band family and as my family in general. We lost my nephew, who worked with me, during that time when I was off, too. It was just a crazy time. Hopefully we can use that to help others understand that you can go through a rough time and still come out on the other side OK. People don’t always see that side of us in the music business. They only see what’s onstage. You don’t always pop open a beer can and hop onstage.
How do you feel now, looking back, about the rollout for Solid Ground being interrupted?
It put more drive in me than I ever imagined. It’s crazy how things in life can do that to you. I just finished a record with Randy Rogers and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I think it’s an incredible record because I’m so glad to be able to sing again and so glad to be able to write again.
You spoke at the time about starting off a new phase of your career with Solid Ground. So where does this put you now?
I just want to let people know that hey, I’m good. Let’s go kick some more ass, let’s go have some fun. I didn’t plan it this way, but I feel like this second phase of my career is even better than I imagined. Now that I’ve gone through this, I’m a much better person and human being and artist for it.