by Candice Anne Marshall
In late early August 2008, I was introduced to the sounds of Juno Award winning Canadian Country band The Road Hammers and little did I know that my first encounter with Music Journalism would be inspired by this band, but you know what they say about first impressions…and these boys left such an impactful one, I ended up pursuing music journalism into what is now known as Starlight Music Chronicles. Their passion for their music and their enthusiasm on stage through stellar performance left be spellbound.
In the last 9 years, I have followed the bands’ career and in 2013, I reconnected with Clayton Bellamy, guitarist for The Road Hammers, just outside of Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta prior to a Taylor Swift concert. It was then we struck up a friendship apart from the band and is where I first learned he had also pursued a solo music career. He handed me his album ‘Five Crow Silver’ with the promise to review it (which I did eagerly), and since, I have been a massive supporter of his solo and band projects. His attitude, work ethic, and personable approach to his peers in this sometimes very tough industry is like a welcome breath of fresh air.
Since 2013, I have watched Clayton work with Canadian Musicians like Dan Davidson, and FKB producing and penning songs that have now made major strides on Canadian Radio and being recognized by the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and Edmonton Music Awards. To say the least, everything Clayton pours his heart into has that Midas touch and that is evident in the accumulation of awards he has earned over the last several years. He and The Road Hammers have been nominated for yet another Canadian Country Music Award for 2017 (for Group or Duo of the Year) and have already four CCMA awards under their belt. In addition, he has won a Juno Award for Best Country Recording and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award to name a few. Clayton has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and even for President Carter. His work credentials from his Five Crow Silver album include working alongside industry peers such as Garth Hudson (The Band), Bobby Keys (The Rolling Stones), Ian McLagan (The Faces), Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s legendary backing band Double Trouble, Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar), Tom Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo King’s), Audley Freed (The Black Crowes), Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Joe Walsh), Kelly Prescott, Mike Plume and his old buddies from The Road Hammers, Chris Byrne and Corbett Frasz.
We are looking forward to his new project with The Congregation (as mentioned in the below interview) and his Career journey is officially now part of the SMC Spotlight Numbered Series roster of high caliber Artists we have been profiling in both the music and film industries and welcome Clayton to the SMC Spotlight!
Exclusive Interview | Clayton Bellamy
SMC – Clayton! We are so thrilled to have you on our SMC Spotlight! This has been a long time coming my friend! I met you back in 2007 when you performed at Grizfest in Northern BC. I was that deer-in-the-headlights reporter for the local newspaper Jason brought on the bus…. I remember you boys were so laid back. It was my first interview. You know, I got in a lot of trouble for that! LOL Let’s begin with your work with The Road Hammers – I saw there’s a video in the works….and I saw you in a jailbird costume…what’s up with that? LOL
CB – Well first off, I never kiss and tell so I can’t give away all the details but that picture was on the set of a video for a song called Haulin’ Ass on the new Road Hammer record “The Squeeze”.
SMC – What has the fan response been to The Road Hammers new music?
CB – The response has been overwhelming with a Top 6 single on Billboard it is really overwhelming to see Hammer music still doing so well after 12 years on the road!
SMC – How do you feel you have personally evolved as a Musician since 2007 when we first met?
CB – Well I hope I have gotten better lol, I have learned so much being with this band and touring the world. I think we have really, as Musicians, refined what the band is and taken our live show to a whole other level.
SMC – I did a review of your album Five Crow Silver (I still listen to that all the time!) after we connected in 2013 outside Rexall Place at the Taylor Swift RED Tour. Are there any more solo projects coming down the pipe? That album is fabulous!
CB – Thank you, I was very proud of that record. YES, in fact I am working on a new solo project now, a band called The Congregation! It is a mix of RnB, Gospel and Rock n Roll!
SMC – I also saw that there was some pretty stellar talent that collaborated with you on the Five Crow Silver album. Can you tell me which experience was most memorable for you?
CB – That album was not easy to make with all the guests involved but I would say being in Willie Nelsons Studio with Double Trouble and Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar and Ian Maclagan of the Faces all in one room was something I will never forget!
SMC – So let’s get into some of the song-writing you have been collaborating on for local artists in the Edmonton community…Let’s begin with Dan Davidson – Can you tell us how that collaboration came about?
CB – Dan and I have known each other for years thru his work with Tupelo Honey, we got together when he called me about co writing for his new solo project! Together we wrote Barn Burner and Found which was a GOLD selling single! It still BLOWS MY MIND!
SMC – FKB, can you tell us how you that collab came about?
CB – I first saw FKB playing a Chilli cook off in Bonnyville AB. Then like the same week I saw them playing at the Car show in Bonnyville, I thought these kids are too good to be real! We got together and started writing for their first record they were 17 and 18 years old! Now here we are on album number two five years later and they are touring North America with songs on the radio and kicking ass! I am so pumped for them!
SMC – Can you tell us if there are any other artists local to Edmonton that you will or have worked with?
CB – I am always interested in collaborating and creating music. Weather at the local or national level it only matters about the quality and passion of the artist I am working with. If I am going to write or produce with an Artist it first has to feel right. There are so many great Edmonton bands out there right now but I would love to work with ‘Scenic Route To Alaska’!
SMC – Have there been any other Canadian artists that you have collaborated with outside of Edmonton?
CB – I have been so blessed to work and write with many great artists like Jason Blaine, Big Sugar, Matt Anderson, Chad Brownlee, The Trews, Derric Ruttan, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and many others who have let me into their worlds.
SMC – What about US artists?
CB – As a Band the Hammers have played with many great acts like Loretta Lynn, Lynard Skynard, Jason Aldean, Dwight Yoakam, Twisted Sister, the list goes on and I often have to pinch myself knowing that all this started as a dream from a small-town farm kid in Alberta.
SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment to date in terms of your personal career?
CB – I think Playing the Grand Ole Opry. We played it twice and it was a feeling like no other…I got down and kissed the stage.
SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment in terms of your personal life?
CB – By far my kids…they have given me so much joy in my life and hope for the future, and the continue to challenge me as a Dad and as a Human being to be better.
SMC – It seems that everything you touch turns to gold! Dan Davidson’s song ‘Found’ and ‘Barn Burner’ have had some serous traction on radio and among fans. Can you tell us what you like most about writing for others?
CB – I love that there are no expectations, only open roads to go down to create!
SMC – How many of the songs on The Road Hammers new album ‘The Squeeze’ you have written?
CB – I was a part of 3 songs on the Record including the Title track! But it was a group effort to make those songs. I am only a part of making those great. Chris Byrne and Jason McCoy are amazing writers in their own right so it’s easy when you get in the room with them!
SMC – You boys always seem to have a ton of fun in everything you do from making videos to live performances. Can you tell us what you enjoy most?
CB – what I enjoy most is that nothing is ever the same, as soon as you get tired of playing live you’re in the studio recording or your writing its always changing and that works good for me!
SMC – Let’s talk about your career working for 103.9 CISN FM Radio in Edmonton…what was your role on the station?
CB – I was the host of the Drive Home show with Chelsea Bird.
SMC – What inspired you to get into Radio?
CB: That was serendipity mostly lol. The good folks at CISN including Chris Scheetz approached me about the opportunity and I said YES! The rest is history.
SMC – How would you say your time on CISN FM has helped enhance your own music career or that of The Road Hammers or the others you write for?
CB: I think it helped me become more of a household name in Alberta, it also helped hone my radio skills interviewing and being interviewed! It also opened up a whole new world of opportunity for the future in Music for me. And for that I will always be grateful.
SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment to date in terms of your career?
CB – The JUNO (award).
SMC – What has been your greatest challenge?
CB – Breaking out into new markets around the world.
SMC – I saw something a while back about you supporting causes like the Diabetes Foundation. My mother had diabetes, so this is a subject I am passionate about. Can you tell me what other organizations you have supported?
CB – Yes, I was involved with The Diabetes Association at the CISN I went to Scotland and ran the Scotland Marathon with them it was amazing!
SMC – We are halfway through the summer and with festival season drawing to a close, what do you have planned in terms of live performances in the upcoming months?
CB – The Hammers are full on baby! We have a huge fall coming up with our new single “YOUR LOVE IS THE DRUG”
SMC – I feel confident that you will walk away with something at the CCMA’s this year! What categories have you or artists you’ve worked with been nominated for?
CB – Well don’t get too confident lol, if it’s one thing you can never count on it’s awards shows lol. But seriously it is always amazing to be nominated and recognized for your work. To me that is the best.
SMC – What do you place most of your energy into during the creative process of making an album with The Road Hammers or even with others?
CB – THE SONGS! with out them you have nothing…
SMC – Can you tell us what your song-writing process is? Which instrument do you use for this process?
CB – My process is secret… my instrument is my BRAIN! LOL
SMC – Which artist in the industry would you like to collaborate with and why?
CB – I would love to work with Eric Clapton or John Mayer!
SMC – With so many affected by the recent passing of Chester Bennington and even Chris Cornell, what are your thoughts on the demands of the music industry and the importance of keeping balanced?
CB – Listen, mental illness is nothing to be taken lightly and until we lift the stigma and get it out in the open and attack it head on we will continue to lose people. Celebrities or not, our families all need support so love up on each other because you never know where someone is at…
SMC – What is a typical ‘day in the life’ of Clayton Bellamy like?
CB – BUSY>>>
SMC – What has been the most memorable live performance for you to date?
CB: Still the OPRY
SMC – Who are your greatest allies in this industry?
CB – My friends, it’s hard to explain but I never approach this as business and needing allies and leveraging ext… may be to my detriment but I always came at it as a FAN! I LOVE Music and I want to be friends with these people and be involved in their lives and their music!
SMC – What plans do you personally want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
CB – World Domination! LOL. Honestly my new project The Congregation and my songwriting are taking front seat for a while and I hope to be busy making music with that!
SMC – Where do you think the future of music is at in terms of platforms: Spotify or Pandora?
CB – There will always be room for vinyl and CD’s on the fringe but mass music is now consumed online and that is our reality.
SMC – Do you think that with platforms like Spotify or Pandora, radio will become obsolete?
CB – No not as long as there is internet this is how music will be consumed from now on.
SMC – What does the term ‘success’ in the music industry means to you?
CB – I think I am living it, I get to make a living playing and creating music that is what I set out to do. And Every day I wake up excited about my day…you can’t ask for more than that.
SMC – What is a deal-breaker for you in terms of what you aren’t willing to do for your career?
CB – I think anything that goes against my Moral code, or would affect my family or children negatively, but luckily, I have yet to run into that.
SMC – Who would you say are your go-to team?
CB – My manager Ron Kitchner at RGK or my Publishing team at OLE Nashville. But creatively Scott Baggett my production Partner and The Hammers band are my go to guys!
SMC – What do you do to ‘unwind’ after a hectic day?
CB – I love to be on the Water, or on my Motorcycle.
SMC – Who is your favorite Rock artist? Country? Alternative? Folk/Americana?
CB: Right now, I would list Chris Stapleton, Rival Sons, Tedeschi Trucks Band
SMC – Okay, final question: What ‘other’ career path would you have chosen if you had not chosen music?
CB – Banana Salesman, because I am sensitive just like them…I bruise easily!
SMC – LOL! Fair comment – Thanks Clayton!
*Featured throughout this interview are songs that Clayton has written or produced with the Artists featured.
Clayton Bellamy & Road Hammers Social Media Links (click to view)