Granger Smith’s wife, Amber, has been in so many of his music videos, he confesses that he told his producer she’d be his female lead in his latest one — before he’d even asked her.

 “I just sent her a text,” Smith, 38, recalls, “and I said, hey, I’ll shoot you the dates, but I think you’re going to be in the next video.”

Of course, why would either of them mess with a good thing? Amber is a professional actress, after all, and the couple actually met when she auditioned for — you guessed it — one of his music videos back in 2009.

That means cameras recorded their very first kiss. (Oddly, it also means that kiss arrived before their first date.) Eight or 10 videos into it — Smith has lost count — you can figure they’re pretty comfortable smooching around a camera crew, as they did for Smith’s latest video, “You’re In It,” which PEOPLE is debuting exclusively.

“I’ve told her it’s getting to the point where we’ve done so many together that it would be really weird if all of a sudden I came up with a video where there was an actual love interest and it wasn’t her,” says the Texas native, who just cracked the top 40 with “You’re In It.”

Clearly, music videos have turned into a family affair for Smith. Besides his wife, both of his brothers and his parents have appeared in them. The youngest of the couple’s three children, River, now 2, dropped into his dad’s arms in the 2017 video for “Happens Like That.” Daughter London, who’s 6, was the sole star of the lyric video for “You’re In It.” Lincoln, now 4, co-starred in the music video for “Tractor” in 2016, and all three children are now featured in the latest video diary, “Road vs. Home,” that Smith posted on his YouTube channel, Yee Yee TV (named for alter-ego Earl Dibbles Jr.’s trademark yell).

“It just kind of happened organically,” Smith explains about his children’s video appearances. “They’ve been literally watching mom and dad in these music videos since they were infants. … They’re willing and they want to, and they always want to be with us. There they are, and hey, you know, it’s perfect. I guess it’s just who I am. Family is everything to me.”

Though Amber is a familiar face in the “You’re In It” video, it’s still a major departure for Smith, since he’s neither playing himself nor comic bumpkin Earl. The storyline puts him in the driver’s seat of a getaway car for two bank robbers, played by up-and-coming Texas artists Parker McCollum and Koe Wetzel. Three minutes and 53 seconds of plot give Smith enough time to have a crisis of conscience, choose his wife over a life of crime and deliver a happy ending to his fans.

The video was shot, appropriately, in Smithville, Texas, 70 miles from Smith’s home base in Georgetown. The tiny town accommodated the production by shutting down its main street and even removing its Fourth of July banners.

Perhaps the hardest part of the shoot, Smith says, was just coaxing the getaway car, a 1980s station wagon, to burn rubber. Smith had only himself to blame since he chose the vehicle, which he dubbed “the Griswold special,” after the car in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

“Oh my gosh, it was terrible, absolutely terrible,” he says. “It was specially geared down just for that video, so that it could accelerate quickly. But it still was just so sluggish that we had to shoot the peel scene a few times just to try to get it to actually peel out. I had it completely floored.”

The video release coincides with Smith’s return from Australia, where he sold out shows in four east coast locations. He made his first trip Down Under last year, to a country music festival, and he was surprised to discover it was harboring a rabid outpost of Yee Yee Nation.

This time around, Smith was greeted with fans wearing Earl-esque T-shirts, gimme caps and overalls. “It’s been so fun,” he says. “We knew going into it that it was all sold out, but that still doesn’t prepare you for what you’re going to see when you walk out on stage.”

Next up for Yee Yee Nation denizens is the Aug. 21 release of If You’re City, If You’re Country, turning Earl Dibbles Jr. into a published author. The 100-page book, which includes an EP of Earl’s greatest hits, is heavy on hee-haw humor and illustrations that make Earl a cartoon character.

“Which is not a stretch,” says Smith, “because Earl, in his own essence, is a cartoon character in real life.”


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