Grammy Nominations 2017

Brett Eldredge on Getting 'Hands-On' With a Victoria's Secret Model, Releasing 'Illinois' & More

Joseph Llanes
Brett Eldredge photographed at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Brett Eldredge has gotten more than a few good-natured calls of concern from his friends following the release of his video for "Lose My Mind," which features him in several romantic poses with Victoria's Secret model Rachel Hilbert.

"Some of my friends did have a comment or two about that one," the singer tells Billboard with a laugh. "I had a hard time doing it. Actually, I had to go through some pre-counseling because it was so tough," he jokes, though -- no pun intended -- he was very "hands-on" for the video. "I actually drew the skit up for the video, which included me writing myself into a corner by wearing a straitjacket, which is a very uncomfortable situation. But it got better as the day went by."

Brett Eldredge's 'Illinois': Listen Early With This Exclusive Stream

Reaction to the clip has been strong among his fans, but he admits that he has learned one rule: Never allow your mother to watch your videos with you. " I wouldn't say she's not allowed, but I try not to be there when she's watching," he says of his mother Robin's reaction. "I think that it's awkward watching a video with your mom, particularly when you're making out with a girl or a sexy scene. I would rather be away from that!"

Eldredge is not having any trouble dealing with the response to the current single. Sitting at No. 6 on the Hot Country Songs chart, "Lose My Mind" is the lead track from his long-awaited sophomore album, Illinois, which hits stores this Friday. He says the album (and its title track) fulfills one of his longtime goals.

"I've always wanted to title an album Illinois," he says. "I wrote the song, which was a very special song to me. The song isn't exactly about being from there, even though I am. It's really about no matter how far you go or travel, there's always that place that you originate from or that you planted your roots that is in your heart, and it never leaves you -- whether you're from Texas or wherever. That place holds a place in your heart. There's some story songs on the album, and it also opens up my soulful side -- which you can hear in 'Lose My Mind.' I've gotten to do some things that I really want to do with my music on this album. I just like to keep things interesting and keep having fun."

His first album, Bring You Back, featured a trio of No. 1 singles -- "Don't Ya," "Beat of the Music" and "Mean to Me." So how did he hope to follow up that success?

"With me being the restless person that I tend to be, as soon as we released [the first album], I was already writing for the second album," he says. "I had two years to write for this album. I would write on the road or at home. I knew that time was going to sneak up a lot quicker, so I wrote like crazy. There were also songs that I wanted to put on the first record that we didn't, as well. I'm writing all the time. I want to do this forever. I want to have a box set someday. I can't stop. The day I stop being inspired to write songs, I'll go sit on the beach -- until I become inspired again."

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It was a question from another journalist that led to the album cut "Wanna Be That Song." "That is one of my favorite songs on the record. I got the idea when an interviewer asked me what I wanted to do with my music, or what I wanted my message to be. I thought about seeing people getting engaged or married to 'Mean to Me,' or the fact that a couple might have met while 'Beat of the Music' was playing, and now it was their song. I said I want to be that song that makes you fall in love -- or dance or laugh and have fun. The idea stuck with me. I was about to go on the stage at Kansas Speedway, and I had Scooter Carusoe with me, who I wrote 'Mean to Me' with. I told him the idea, and I walked onstage. We got back on the bus, and about three months later, he brings up the idea again. We wrote it, and it turned out to be magic. I'm really looking forward to getting that one out there. I think it's a special one."

With the release date of Illinois being announced in early June, the singer was asked about the three-month wait to get the album out to his fans. He says it's all been worth it. "It's so crazy. September 11 seemed so far out, but here it is. I've been looking forward to it for so long. I've been dying to get it out there, and it's time to see what people think. I love the way it came out. I'm so pumped."