By David Tanner
The lyrics ring true for any modern-day road hammer.
Some days I don’t know if I’ll make it by
The price of diesel’s gettin’ mighty high
I live on caffeine and borrowed time
Stretchin’ a nickel into a dime.
The song is “Keep on Truckin’ ” by The Road Hammers, an award-winning, country-rock sensation from Canada that now calls Nashville, TN, home.
Lead vocalist Jason McCoy, already an accomplished solo performer, challenged himself in 2005 to create a band to connect with the trucker spirit. Riding high on the scheduled June 4 release of the album “Blood Sweat & Steel,” McCoy called in to Land Line to give a shout out to those hardworking men and women out there on the grid.
“We always say we live the life of a trucker. We share the same office, and we’re in the same places at the same odd hours of the morning and all times of the day,” McCoy said.
“If you drive 18 wheels, six, four, two – it doesn’t matter if you drive a unicycle – if you’ve got a restless spirit in your heart, then you’re a road hammer.”
If you haven’t heard The Road Hammers yet, perhaps you’ve seen them. Country Music Television Canada produced the reality TV show “Making the Band,” which followed McCoy and his band mates, guitarist Clayton Bellamy, bassist Chris Byrne and drummer Corbett Frasz, during the formation of the band.
“When we put the band together, all of us in the band had had solo careers, and we thought it would be cool to come up with this concept album about trucking and try to put together the ultimate driving album, if you will,” McCoy said.
The fruit of their labor includes original songs “Nashville Bound,” “I’m a Road Hammer,” “Overdrive,” along with a hit single, “I Don’t Know When to Quit,” penned by composers Ashley Gorley and Bryan Simpson.
The listener will likely crack a smile as the youthful Hammers launch into some truckin’ favorites on the album including Jerry Reed’s “East Bound and Down” and the old Del Reeves classic hit, “Girl on the Billboard.”
“We take these songs that we grew up listening to and give them a new coat of paint and they’re new again,” McCoy said.
There’s just a hint of twang to the album, McCoy admits, but the album spreads the wings of modern country and rock, giving several of the songs an anthem quality.
With their first series considered a success north of the border, The Road Hammers are ready to take a shot at American TV. They recently completed filming for a program on the Great American Country cable network.
In this follow-up, McCoy and The Road Hammers set out to show what it’s like to watch the band they created in “Making the Band” get to work on new things.
“It shows behind the scenes about what it takes to get a band into Nashville and get a record out on the radio,” McCoy said, adding that it’s more than just being in the right place at the right time.
“It takes a lot of work.”
If McCoy wasn’t working at the music business, he might well be trucking – or flying. Either way, it’s no stretch to see or hear the gears in motion.
“I’m pretty used to it,” he said. “We all come from different trucking-style families, and it’s kind of in my blood. I used to fly when I was younger – my sister’s a pilot – so I might follow that path. We’re blessed and fortunate to do what we love for a living, so we hope we get to do that for a few more years.”
The band’s tour schedule has taken them through the Midwest this spring, with coast-to-coast festival appearances scheduled throughout the summer.
McCoy and the others don’t hesitate to tell it like it is when they interact with truckers in person, on the airwaves or online.
“It is the lifeline of our nation, and we just want to make sure it keeps going. And we stand up proud as a voice for the trucker.”
“I thank everybody who’s out there on the highway and making a living on the highway, we really appreciate what you do. There’s long hours, and a lot of time you’re away from your family,” McCoy said. “We appreciate the hard work, and we know how hard it is.”
To learn more about The Road Hammers and to find times for the TV series, visit roadhammers.com. LL