“This is the first video that The Ragbirds have ever put out,” Erin Zindle, dynamic frontwoman for the globally influenced, contemporary folk band told AXS in a recent interview. “We have live videos of us playing shows, but that’s as much as we’ve ever done. We’ve never shot a video like this before.”
Erin is talking about the video for the single, “Breakdown,” from the band’s latest album, The Threshold & The Hearth. The jubilant dancing and celebratory atmosphere bring to life the glorious moment of exuberance that is depicted in the track.
“This song is the emotional release of the album,” Erin noted.
There is a marvelous story that runs throughout The Threshold & The Hearth. It’s a fictional tale that spans two decades and details the struggles and joys of a long-term relationship between two lovers.
“All of the songs were written from my own perspective and experience, and they relate to different aspects of what I was going through at the time I wrote them,” Erin revealed. “Each song has its own story of how it relates to my life and also how it relates to the story of ‘Betty’ and ‘Bill.’ You know how Beyoncé has Sasha Fierce, a fictional character that helps her write? It’s funny because for her and for many of the people who sort of put on a fictional character, that character is a bold, adventurous version of who they are. Like Lady Gaga’s stage persona. But for me, I’ve been living this life of a touring musician for so long that I was playing around with ‘What does it look like to be a housewife?!’ My fictional story is about someone who has a regular job – she’s a cosmetologist who is trying to figure out how to make a marriage work in the long run. The character is somebody I can completely relate to, but she is also someone who experiences life in a totally different way than I do.”
“Breakdown” arrives a little more than halfway through the album. Betty’s son just came home, knocking at her door after having lived on the streets with a drug addiction. For months, she’s been worried and upset, just praying that he would come home. But when he finally returns, there is a conflict between Betty, who is worried that welcoming him back so easily is enabling him, and her husband who just wants to let him come back. So Betty is going through a pretty intense internal struggle at this point of the story.
“At the beginning of the video she’s pulling up in her car. She’s getting away from this big fight with her husband, this big emotional conflict, and she’s walking into this concert, obviously alone,” Erin detailed, setting up the opening scene. “She decided to just go out and get away.”
Throughout the video, Betty experiences a gradual, but powerful transformation. She let’s the moment take her as the song urges, “Breakdown don’t break apart … let go and lay your burden down.”
“That’s the song that kind of sums up the whole story of the album,” Erin stated. “Being able to let go of things is how we are able to make a long-term relationship work. Through all of the challenges and difficulties, no matter what the fight was about or what was going on in her life, being able to let go is how Betty can finally move forward in the process of healing with her family.”
Recently, Erin and husband/drummer Randall Moore entered parenthood with the birth of their daughter. “She is now two and a half years old and she travels with us on the road,” Erin informed. “She’s been on tour with the band since she’s been five weeks old. A lot of the songs on this album were written during my pregnancy, during the process of becoming a mother and settling into that role. You can definitely hear echoes of that throughout this story.”
Zindle pointed out that since having her daughter, time is more precious and it has driven her even harder to do her best work ever. “I had to really learn how to make the most of my time and how to make each individual song the best it could be. Now there’s an intensity to what we do. Everything feels like it carries more weight when you have a child. There’s a maturing that everybody goes through, and we all do it in different ways – some artists jump into parenthood and they let the music fall by the wayside, but we made a conscious effort not to do that.”
After a moment’s reflection, Erin realized, “It’s sort of interesting, in writing the story of these fictional characters, Betty and Bill, maybe that was my way of exploring that other world? It suddenly seems so very philosophical,” she laughed.
Getting back to the video, itself, Erin confessed that the band did try to record one a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a “complete failure,” so they never released it. “I’m glad we went through that because we actually learned a lot. I did a ton of research before setting out to film this video. We had a really small budget to work with and I decided that the best thing to do was to just dig in and learn how to produce and direct this video, myself!”
Erin came up with the treatment, the storyboard, the shot list, virtually everything needed to create the video. She found a crew and put together the cast. “This was the most clear-cut video where I could actually see an easy way to do it. I knew a place where we could film locally and I started to list all the dancers I wanted to be involved... It all came together in my mind so concretely. We didn’t even need to buy any clothing because a lot of the costumes were from my personal collection. Another girl – one of the dancers – also had a similar collection of costumes, so the two of us just put together what we had. It was actually harder to come up with the costumes in the scene where everybody’s dressed in their normal clothes!”
In closing, Erin expressed, “We are so excited for this premiere! Our fan base has been waiting for a video from us forever, so here it is! Thank you for celebrating with us!”
The Ragbirds are in the midst of an extensive tour that has blanketed much of the eastern half of the country. [Complete list of tour dates, here.] The band’s fifth studio album, The Threshold & The Hearth is currently available through Rock Ridge Music.
Exclusive video premiere: The Ragbirds’ “Breakdown”: