Wild Ponies Take Aim at Abuse With “Trigger”

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It only takes 15 seconds to kill the bad guy in Wild Ponies’ first-ever music video, “Trigger.” And good riddance to him. The Nashville trio is taking aim at domestic abuse on their brand new album, Things That Used to Shine.

“It’s a personal story. People don’t like talking about abuse,” says band member Telisha Williams. “There is a lot of shame and secrecy around it, and when victims come forward, it can empower other victims to speak their truth. The prevalence of sexual abuse isn’t even really known because so many victims don’t disclose. The secrecy and shame is huge part of the abuse — in some ways more damaging than the physical part.

“This song came together as sort of a ‘what if?’ situation — an opposing scenario of how abuse usually gets handled, how it was handled at Penn State and in the Catholic Church and with me. A mom learns her daughter is being abused, and she takes care of it. I’m not saying murder is the best option, but keeping it a secret isn’t the right way, either. There is a place in between those scenarios where the victim can thrive after healing.”

Despite the pointed lyrics of “Trigger,” though, not every song is quite as stark. The project officially comes out Tuesday (Sept. 10), and it’s worth tracking down especially for the nifty title track, a hearty salute to secondhand stuff.

After a few shows in Tennessee later this month, they’ll head to Europe for nearly all of October. In the meantime, Telisha and husband/bandmate Doug Williams answered a few questions by email.

CMT Edge: Where were the indoor and outdoor scenes filmed for “Trigger”?

Doug: We were sitting around talking about a location, trying to find a house that would fit the scene. I could see the whole thing so clearly in my head — the kitchen table, the weeds in the front yard, the dirty dishes in the sink, gravel driveway with maybe an old, rundown car or two. I just sort of described it, and Jake (our drummer) said, “Dude, that’s my house!” He was right. We actually filmed the whole thing down at his place outside of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and the country roads around there.

Telisha: We borrowed our friend Kira’s truck. It seemed like the right vehicle for the story. Our Honda Element just wouldn’t do.

There are some neat references in the lyrics — like the photo from Ruby Falls and the salt-and-pepper shakers. They might seem like minor details at first, but how do you think that enhances the story you’re telling?

Doug: I believe in songs you can really get inside of, songs that put the listener in a real place. Little details like that can say a lot in just a few words. Hopefully, it gives you insight into who these people are, where they come from, maybe a little bit about what kind of relationship they’ve had in the past.

Telisha, what did you enjoy most about stepping into the role of the narrator in this song?

Telisha: I actually struggled with that at first. I wasn’t sure if it would be creepy for me to be the murderess AND in the band. When I watch the video, I’m surprised at how different I look in the two roles. I have to admit I felt like a badass acting as the character. Let’s just say I was method acting.

When you saw the finished video, what was your initial reaction?

Doug: Telisha and I were sitting in a rental car outside of a coffee shop somewhere in Minnesota when Justin (Justin Hall – video producer) emailed us a link to the finished video. I’m not going to lie. We both cried. The last scene, the way Justin put it together, it just hit really hard. It was exactly what we were hoping for, but it still stunned us a little bit.

Telisha: Our first viewing was on an iPhone screen, and we felt like it had the impact we were shooting for. We couldn’t wait to get to a real wi-fi connection and watch it on a 15-inch computer screen.

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