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Road Hammers truck on through "Blood Sweat & Steel"

By Dan MacIntosh, June 2008

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Clearly, while The Road Hammers praise the trucking lifestyle, they're not na•ve about how tough that particular career choice is for real life right about now. Regular citizens complain about the gas price at the pump, but for independent truckers, these high prices are eating away at all their profits. And for some, this means leaving the trucking life altogether.

"It's pretty bad," admits McCoy, "and we certainly feel the crunch every time we spin the wheel, just like everybody else does. It's one of those things that can change your life. We knew this crunch was coming. The folks over in Britain have been paying a lot. I don't know. It's tough, but we're going to have to deal with it and find alternate ways. I think the number one issue they (the trucking industry) faces is finding drivers and staffing. Recruitment is a big issue within the trucking community. But I think that (recruitment) will even show itself to be an even bigger problem in the future, what with all the challenges of keeping a vehicle on the road. Being an independent guy, you're all by yourself, and I really feel for that because we feel like we're in a gang ourselves. We've got this little mini rolling empire and it's us against the world. And when you get things like fuel prices going up and just vehicle expense, it's really tough to make it happen."

The Road Hammers are all Canadian musicians, but country music in Canada isn't all that different from the country music we enjoy in the States.

"I don't think it's much different at all," McCoy opines. "I would say country music in America was born of bluegrass, and ours was born more of folk music. But...we're all influenced by the same popular artists - George Strait, Toby Keith, the whole bit. Then we've got our same...Shania Twain was a big export for us...she was very big here, too. Country music is really nurtured in Nashville. And that's Music City USA, and that's where we wanted to be. As far as the differences go, it's the people's music, and I find country music to be a universal language, just like any genre. We have little regional differences, but nothing more than let's say Texas to Tennessee."

Speaking of country music's motherland, McCoy still fondly recalls the first time he visited that uniquely nurturing place, Nashville, Tenn.

"I was 14 years old," he remembers. "They still had the theme park and Opryland, the whole bit. It was quite a magical world for a kid who grew up on country music. I grew up idolizing George Jones and Johnny Cash and Johnny Paycheck, you name it, all the greats of yesterday. It was really a lot like kids who are into NASA, where they'd wanna go see a shuttle launch. I got to see go to the Grand Ole Opry. It really changed my life."

This music-loving teenager was fortunate to come from a family that also loved country music; one that encouraged their children to always follow their dreams. "The whole family has been into country music and my folks encouraged me with my career," he says. "Anything that myself or my two sisters wanted to pursue, as long as we were doing it with all our hearts, they were into it and behind it, and so they were very encouraging."

It wasn't long after this visit to the country holy land that McCoy came to realize a country music life was his career calling. "At 12 years old, I was playing guitar, but at 16 or 17 years old, I decided to take it seriously," says McCoy.

He could have chosen the pilot lifestyle, instead, as did others in his family. But the pull of country music was just too strong. "My family all were pilots," he details. "My dad was a private pilot; my sister flies for Air Canada now. So, I got my pilot's license when I was 17, and I thought I wanted to pursue that. But I never did. I just seemed to take to music a little more, it just seemed to be more what I was born to do, and I've been very proud of what I've been able to do in the music industry. It's been a lot of fun, and it's a real blessing to be able to enjoy what you do."

McCoy is extremely committed to being a Road Hammer, even though he will also continue to put out solo releases. "I still do solo projects," he explains. "For folks who don't know, I had four records on Universal Music in Canada. And now with this Road Hammers banner, it's just exploded for us. It debuted at number one in the sales chart at home here. It (The Road Hammers) is taking all the time because it's so busy right now and so in demand. But it doesn't mean that I won't be recording as a solo artist. But all of us come from solo projects, so it's really nice that we get to come together knowing what a solo act is like and feeling like we're a band in this group."

Being in a band can sometimes erase some of the pressures associated with solo ventures. "There can be nights where, you know, maybe you're not feeling it, and the other guy is, and it kind of helps you get into it and kick each other's butts to make it happen," McCoy says. "There's certain uniqueness to the blend of the people who are onstage, and it's certainly unique unto itself."

With a picturesque name like The Road Hammers, you might expect McCoy to be one of those guys who loves the sound of steel belts on blacktop more than anything else in the world. And although he truly enjoys touring - he is of The Road Hammers after all - age has brought along other equally pressing matters into his life. "I'm 38 now, and as I travel more and more, I like to be home more - I have a 2-year-old daughter," he explains. "We stay out about two weeks, and three weeks is about the max for me. My family comes and visits me on the road whenever they can. It's just what I've always done; I've done this since I was 17, and I've never known anything else, really, in my adult life. It's part of me."

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