David Allan Coe Returns to Prison Where He Did Time In Moonshine Bandits' New Video: Premiere
The Moonshine Bandits just released their seventh studio album, Baptized in Bourbon, and Billboard is excited to bring you an exclusive look at the video for the set’s first single, “Take This Job.” A classic for Johnny Paycheck in 1977, the duo is thrilled to have the song’s writer, David Allan Coe, appear in both the song and the video.
“Obviously, for two guys like me and Bird, we grew up listening to David Allan Coe, whether it was on the weekend drinking beer or barbecuing. We always have listened to his music,” said the duo’s Dusty "Tex" Dahlgren. “The next thing you know, we’re doing a song with him, and getting his blessing on how we did the song, and his interest in being in a video with us. Our manager came up with the concept for the video in bringing him back to the penitentiary where he was incarcerated at. The song itself is about being empowered and liberated, so to have Coe go back to somewhere he had actually spent some time out of his life and not be able to be liberated, it tied in pretty good.”
The Moonshine Bandits take pride in the fact that the video is pretty much unfiltered – just like Coe has always been. “The video is raw,” stressed Dahlgren. “It’s uncensored, and we’re proud of that. We didn’t make this music video to pitch to CMT. We made the video to be what it is -- if a 77-year old man like David Allan Coe wants to flip off the camera, so be it. I think that our fans and his fans will expect that, especially with the world being so politically incorrect -- who doesn’t want to flip off the boss when you’re angry? You may not do it, but in this song we’re doing just that, and we’re pretty proud of it.”
One thing is for sure: the duo came away with an even greater respect for Coe, who lives up to his reputation of being one of a kind. “He had to walk three or four flights of stairs in that creepy old prison. He had to put in a lot of work to make this thing happen. It was just cool. The relationship we built with him has been so meaningful. I get text messages from him out of the blue. The night before the video, we were in his hotel room sipping on whiskey, and listening to him tell his stories. It was like listening to a guy speak in song lyrics. It was incredible. He would talk about touring with B.B. King, and anytime somebody told him he couldn’t do something, he would go out and do it. That’s how we have approached things. We’ve faced a lot of challenges with the way we’ve mixed genres, and we’ve never really stopped or conformed to what people thought we should sound like. We’ve just kept doing it our own way, so I think the tie-in with us and Coe getting together made a lot of sense on this.”
The clip was shot at the Ohio State Reformatory, which is better known as the prison from The Shawshank Redemption, a place where Coe spent three years as an inmate. How Coe, or any of his fellow prisoners, survived the experience is a mystery to Dahlgren.
“That place was as creepy as hell. I think it’s been on Ghost Adventures. We went in a few of the cells, and it smelt so bad that I threw up. Some didn’t even have toilets. They just had a hole in the ground. It was mind-boggling how they could actually keep people in there. We get brought up to where they would take their showers, and they got a hundred and fifty guys up to the shower once a week. You would see where the water comes out, there’s a bend in the pipe. That’s where everybody hung themselves. It was one thing after another. The place was just so eerie. The hair stood up on my neck when I walked in there. We went to the chapel where we filmed our first scene, and there were pigeons flying in the chapel, and one hawk that sat there and swooped down on the pigeons. The whole day was like that.”
The duo’s Brett "Bird" Brooks said filming the video with Coe would have been enough, but there was an in interesting post-script. “The day after the video, we were all at the airport in Columbus Ohio awaiting flight home. I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize and answered it, which I normally don't do, and I sure am glad I did this time. It was David Allan Coe's manager calling me from his phone. He told me that David wanted me to have his number and wanted me to stay in contact with him, which I have on a regular basis since the video. How cool is that. One thing he told me on the phone that day was 'that we put on one hell of a show.' That gave me the chills. We normally text about playing slot machines, the music video and recently I was passing through Montgomery Alabama and stopped off and paid tribute to Hank Williams at his grave and we have texted about that as well."
The duo has been pleased with the support they’ve gotten from Average Joe’s Entertainment, their label, which is co-owned by Colt Ford. “We’ve really been blessed there, especially with us being from the west coast, we’re nowhere near as country as Colt. We’re covered with tattoos, and have a guy with a Mohawk. For us to express ourselves and do our music the way that we want, we’re just doing what we do. We stay away from the cookie-cutter look and songs. We’ve worked hard to try to create our own lane. We call our sound BluCore Music, which stands for blue-collar people with a rebel spirit, and that’s who our audience is.”