The Road Hammers first hit the country music airwaves in 2004 and the response from fans was immediate. Their self titled debut soared to #1 and they garnered numerous nominations and awards. After a break, the trio regrouped to put forth their latest album, Wheels, which so far has produced three hit singles. Front man Jason McCoy took some time to chat about the album, the Bands on the Run Tour and what's ahead.
The Road Hammers have been together since 2004, but took a break before reuniting. Why was now the best time to reunite?
We have been together a long time, but it seems like the blink of an eye really. When we started out, our debut album was #1, our tours were sold out and we were nominated, and won, numerous awards. We got into Nashville and things changed; our label shut down and we got caught in the crossfire. It kind of took the wind out of our sails. We were brokenhearted, so we decided to take a break for a few years.
During those years, the industry and the face of the audience changed so much that we had some trepidation about reuniting. We didn’t want to jump back in and not deliver to the fan base we had and to an expectant fan base. We wanted to do something that we could be proud of. We wanted to deliver a great album and a great live show.
When we got together, it was like, ‘boom,’ the chemistry was still there. We're not kids anymore, but it felt like we were 18! It is a decision that we feel really good about.
The album, Wheels, was released in June and received a very positive reception. It has an energetic country rockin’ sound as well as a road theme.
Yeah, so far it's been a pretty good ride! The single “Mud” went gold and we’ve been nominated for Group of the Year at the CCMAs. We are really busy with shows and next summer is already on fire; we're going to be playing a bunch of mud events in the states based on the strength of that single.
Initially, being a solo artist, I just wanted to have some fun and do a concept album, a trucking album. Then we put the band together and carried on the theme, really just wanting to make the ultimate driving record.
Your current single is a "hammerized" version of “I’ve Been Everywhere,” for which you guys did a pretty humorous video.
That song, which is a Hank Snow classic, is one of my favorite songs because it speaks to us as musicians and gear heads.
Our tagline is ‘mud...good clean fun’ and that’s kind of what we’re all about. We take the band, the shows and the record very seriously, but ourselves not so much. We like to be loud, stupid and have a good time. We come across a lot of weird things on the road and the video is just us grabbing the camera and spending the day being idiots (laughing).
In November you will head out on the Bands on the Run Tour which will take you across Canada. What can fans expect from the tour?
We are pretty pumped for the tour. We are taking out Doc Walker, who we have worked with for a number of years now, and Blackjack Billy. I wrote Doc Walker’s biggest hit “Rocket Girl,” so it will be nice to go out with them and sing that song every night. I’ve known Jeff from Blackjack Billy for a number of years. He’s a great musician and producer who is kind of a kindred spirit bringing a bit of southern rock and rock n' roll flair to the music.
There’s a lot of synergy with the groups. We sort of put together a rolling circus you might say, where fans will be getting triple the value of their ticket price. It is going to be pretty intense, loud and crazy.
Your music definitely has a Southern Rock flavor. Is that what you listened to growing up and where you draw influence from?
No, I actually was traditional country all of my life. Now, I’m just getting into rock n' roll. Back when I started with the Hammers, I wanted to explore and produce something outside of what I normally do. I can’t deliver on the rock vocals, but Clay, he can. Chris is a funky bass player and has a terrific high vocal, which just rounds everything out. It’s a production dream.
What are your professional plans for the remainder of the year?
Well, the tour ends December 15th, so we will decompress for a few weeks after that. We have a bunch of new songs, which kind of just came up naturally, so we’ll start work on a new album in 2015.
This year has been a real living breathing thing for us which has opened up a whole new pile of opportunities.We are doing a CMT web series about our life on the road, which will include a lot of behind the scenes stuff. And believe it or not, we will be animated in 2015. It’s wacky; we are doing an animated series about ourselves where we will provide the voices for our characters. It’s really weird having an eight inch character of yourself sitting on your counter, but it’s going to be awesome! (laughing)
Finally, I always like to know, is there one recent record that you just cannot stop listening to?
I like Ray LaMontagne; he’s the real deal and pretty disturbingly awesome. And, going back into my youth, I like to listen to Conway Twitty.
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