BARRIE, Ont. – To most, the similarities between musicians and truckers are few and far between, but to the Road Hammers – a three-person country rock band – the two practically live the same life and share the same profession.
The band is comprised of three musicians from across Canada that share a love for country music and the sound of classic truck-driving tunes. They even cameoed in Paul Brandt’s music video in which he covers the ultimate trucker song, Convoy.
This year marks the trio’s tenth anniversary and with the release of their third album, Wheels, they might be in for quite the present as they are currently nominated for a Juno for Country Album of the Year.
“It’s a great way to bookmark 10 years and we were lucky enough to pick up the Juno in 2006, so to still be nominated for our music is sort of surreal,” said Jason McCoy, the band’s frontman. “They say lightning only strikes once but we’ve been lucky enough to have it strike a couple of times.”
The band began back in 2005 and McCoy says the years have flown by from when he first started it as a side project.
“We got very lucky,” he said. “The fans have been great, the radio’s been great. It’s been 10 short years, it’s really been kind of a blink and now we’re the highest-selling band in Canadian country music history so it’s truly remarkable.”
Another band member, Clayton Bellamy added: “It’s hard enough to make a living in a band but the fans just stick with you for 10 years, it’s amazing. To still be relevant and to impact people is a blessing. I feel like I won the lottery every day.”
It wasn’t easy breaking out into the North American country music scene because of the few major players that have been around for the last decade, but The Road Hammers drew from their diverse musical inspiration to differentiate themselves from the cowboys on stage. Today, they are credited with making authentic trucker music.
“I think we drew from a number of places, one is Jason’s love of old-school country music and those great trucking songs of the ’70s,” said Bellamy. “The other part was classic rock and roll. So we kind of mashed those all together and tried to become the ultimate trucker rock band.”
He went on to say the band wanted to give back to the industry that moves the country’s economy, by providing truckers with a quintessential driving album they could listen to on the road.
“The main foundation of this band is to make music for truckers,” he said. “To make music for people who live their life on the highway. Without them, we wouldn’t have anything. If you bought it, a truck brought it and we feel the same way about our record. We really appreciate their support, they’re our people.”
McCoy added the trio tries its best to have a good time and make the shows worthwhile for fans.
“We don’t take what we do for granted and it’s a lot of fun and more importantly, we don’t take the fans for granted,” he said. “If someone is going to take their hard-earned money and buy a record or come out to a show, that’s a big thing. We try to make sure anything we put out there or perform is something we want to see.”
The band says it feels a kinship with the industry, especially Bellamy whose father was a truck driver for the greater part of his life. He added that musicians and truckers are similar in that they live most of their lives on the highway.
“I grew up in a trucking family, my dad hauled heavy crude in northern Alberta so I grew up around that and I know exactly what it’s like to live that kind of lifestyle. A musician is very much like being a trucker, the playing music part is the part you do for free, it’s being on the road, eating in diners, living in hotel rooms night after night that you know, that’s where the work comes in. We can relate to that lifestyle, we see a lot of those guys everyday at the truck stops. We’re all the same.”
The Junos air Sunday March 15. Afterwards, the band will be on tour and visiting for nearly all the summer festivals across the country.
You can learn more about the band and check to see if it will be playing a live show near you by visiting its Web site, http://theroadhammers.com.
Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface. All posts by Sonia Straface