Family Of The Year's introspective "Hero" gets an emotional yet uplifting video.
The first time I heard "Hero," I was driving in L.A., listening to KROQ, and I was so magnetically drawn to the haunting harmonies, and plaintive, quietly unnerving uncertainty that I had to promise myself not to Google the lyrics to find out who was singing such a perfect song to cry to because, well, I was driving, and I'm much better at Googling than I am at driving. (Actually it was my mother's voice admonishing me not to Google and drive. Listen to your mom or your mom's voice in your head. She knows best.)
That was months ago (yes, I know the song came out in 2012 -- late pass), and after (safely) Googling, I learned that song is called "Hero," and it's by Family Of The Year, and it feels like the "Sound Of Silence" for the Instagram generation (so, Simon & Garfunkel's grandkids). I'm still overcome with that same wistful heavyheartedness every time I hear Family Of The Year, and their brand-new "Hero" video makes for the perfect visual complement to a reticent, soul-searching elegy.
Professional bull-rider Nicolas Sartor plays himself in the "Hero" video.
Directed by by Isaac Rentz, "Hero," from the band's Loma Vista album, is an artfully rendered montage of the band in repose juxtaposed with a bull rider -- a real-life professional named Nicolas Sartor. Sartor's been riding since he was 6, and his career includes highs -- at one time he was among the top bull riders in the world, and he's currently one of the top five riders in California -- to deep valleys. He's broken his leg; he was hit in the throat by a bull's horn and ended up in a medically induced coma for a week; and he's shattered his nasal cavity and skull. Yet he's always gotten back on the bull.
"This is my dreams and everything I wanted to do since I was a kid. I couldn't not get back on," Sartor told me over the phone from California, where the video was filmed. "I wanna show my little girls if they have a dream or passion there should be nothing that can stop you in the way. If you have a passion that much, or something you love, then no matter what, always go for it."
Watch Family Of The Year's "Hero" video after the jump.
The "Hero" video was shot on location in Sartor's hometown and features his real daughters in scenes outside of the ring that feel just emotionally heightened as the dramatic moments on the back of those mighty beasts. "The video shows that there's a fighter in all of us. That we can be vulnerable and strong at the same time," Family Of The Year drummer Seb Keefe explained. "Nick and his daughter Emalee brought the emotional connection so perfectly and naturally. They were brilliant. The location was the real deal -- an authentic pro/amateur practice rodeo. It was surreal: This little desert community gets together twice a week to ride. Young and old. The children will take their first rides on baby bulls. The men and women take the risk very seriously. There's a thick tension in the air. The risk is real. These are the original adrenaline junkies. It was just an incredible scene we'll never forget."
Paralleling the highs and lows of Sartor's career and the song's push and pull between living an ordinary life and becoming extraordinary, the "Hero" video chases the American dream and plays out not unlike "Friday Night Lights"... if Tim Riggins joined the rodeo. The video takes a long view of Sartor's life, revealing VHS footage of the beginning of his childhood bull-riding career to scenes of him earning a living pushing shopping carts in a supermarket parking lot. (In reality, he's a third-generation steam pipe welder.)
"It's a struggle to get by," Sartor said. "Every day's a struggle for everybody is how I look at it. But I try not to bring negativity. I try to be happy about everything."
I'd tell you what happens in the end but I'm too busy sobbing.
+ Watch Family Of The Year's "Hero" video:
Photo credit: Catie Laffoon