“There’s a bear in the air and an alligator at your front door. Better gouge on it, he’s got his gumball machine going”. Believe or not this is a real language …. It’s trucking language! It translates to “there’s a police helicopter up above and a tread from a blown tire in front of your truck. Better step on it there’s a police cruiser with its roof light flashing”!! Welcome to the world of the trucker!
However, Canadian musician, Jason McCoy, the creator of ‘The Road Hammers’, didn’t quite fit my image of a truck driver. Some of you might remember that I wrote about Jason a while back around the time of his latest release ‘Sins, Lies and Angels’ which received much critical acclaim. A multiple award winning singer/songwriter, Jason came across as a sensitive, creative personality whereas my image of a trucker brings more to mind a rough, tough, blunt, beefy, chain smoking, no-nonsense kinda guy!
So it was with much curiosity that I eagerly awaited my interview. I decided there had to be another side to Jason that I had yet to discover. After all this band is billed as ‘a five piece no-nonsense, kick-ass mix of Country, Southern Rock and Blues singing songs of maverick culture and the open road’. So my first question to Jason was “Why trucking music?” It seems that, as well as having truckers in his family, Jason has always loved the fast paced, aggressive music of the road and he decided he wanted to bring this type of music back to the forefront of the country music scene. But firstly he had to search for kindred spirits to form a band. CMT (Country Music Television) Canada was intrigued by the project and followed Jason on this undertaking from the first phone calls to possible singers, to auditions and then even to meetings with record companies. Jason said initially it felt a little strange to have people literally following along in his shadow and he was very aware of the TV crew but after a while they became “part of the furniture”!
Once the final selection of talented musicians Chris Bryne and Clayton Bellamy from Alberta was made it was time to produce the first album. Half of the songs are originals with Jason co-writing five of them and others are covers of classic trucking songs revamped ‘Road Hammer’ style. They chose songs that complement each singer’s distinctive vocals and at the same time their blended harmonies define the raw, driving sound of the group. This combination has proven enormously successful. The Album debuted at #1 on the sales charts the first week it was released and has stayed in the top ten on the charts ever since. The group is about to undertake a sold-out tour right across Canada – 30 cities in 37 days. There is an enormous buzz about this group. I was recently at a Club in which the band is going to perform and there was great excitement in everyone’s voices as they talked about the upcoming performance. Every time I turn on country music television the music video of the title song ‘I’m a Road Hammer’ seems to be on and the hard driving song and powerful vocals of the band just commands your attention. The same holds true for ‘Overdrive’, the song to which Rob Fowler has written a fast moving, fleet-of-foot dance. Jason told me that they open every concert with ‘Overdrive’ and the audience is immediately on its feet – you certainly can’t sit down for this song and I foresee many a dance floor full of line dancers who feel the same!
Many of the songs will transport line dancers back to the earlier dancing days of the more traditional country songs with their solid beat and rockin’ rhythm. Foot tapping originals like ‘Keep on Truckin’’, and ‘Nashville Bound’ will bring you running to the floor along with the Hammers’ interpretation of ‘Girl On The Bill Board’ (great two step!), “Heart With Four Wheel Drive’, ‘East Bound and Down’, and ‘The Hammer Goin’ Down’. The wistful ‘Call It a Day’ brings back the Jason I remember! I asked Jason if the Band will impact on his solo career. He sees the two as separate paths running parallel. He has just brought out a ‘Greatest Hits’ Album which covers his hits from 1995-2005 and he is delighted that it is already selling well. At the same time the excitement and enthusiasm in Jason’s voice when he talks about ‘The Road Hammers’ and his thrill at the audience response to their music and performances indicates that ‘The Road Hammers’ will be delighting and revving up audiences for quite some time to come.
A newspaper reporter had been assigned to do a story on a local rancher. He didn't know a thing about ranches or cows but it was to be a human interest piece on the plight of the modern day cowboy. As he pulled up the drive he saw the rancher out in the near pasture driving a few head of cows toward the holding pens where several hundred were already awaiting a truck for transportation to the stock yards. As the rancher drew nearer the reporter began to feel like he had been transported to the old west and was watching history first hand. Grabbing his camera he walked toward the fence to get a few pictures for the article. As the rancher grew still nearer the reporter noticed that the guy on the horse was wearing a baseball cap and sneakers. Disappointed he let the camera hang from his neck and began walking out to meet the rancher..
After the introductions, the reporter inquired about the ranchers strange duds and said that he'd hoped to get some good pictures of a real cowboy. Laughing, the rancher replied, "What? You want me to look like a truck driver?"