Clayton Bellamy (The Road Hammers, The Congregation)
Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive! Episode 001
My guest today is Clayton Bellamy who with The Road Hammers have won 5 Canadian Country Music Awards, a JUNO award, and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year. They are the best selling Canadian country band of all time. He has an exciting new project called Clayton Bellamy & The Congregation whose sound is a high-octane blend of gospel, R&B, and riff-driven hard rock.
CLAYTON BELLAMY TRANSCRIPT:
Hello, and welcome to episode number one of Sing Dance Act Thrive. My guest today is Clayton Bellamy, who with the Road Hammers have won five Canadian Country Music Awards, a JUNO Award and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year. They are the best selling Canadian country band of all time and Clayton, has an exciting new project called Clayton Bellamy and The Congregation. I got to see them live a few weeks ago at a triumph motorcycles VIP lunch event. And it was such a good show. The band had a lot of energy with the sound that is a fantastic blend of gospel R&B and Hard Rock. And here’s the interview. Hello Clayton welcome to the show.
Clayton Bellamy 1:21 Hey, thanks for having me on.
Diane Foy 1:23 You have a lot of exciting things happening right now.
Clayton Bellamy 1:26 It has been an amazing year. Yeah, I don’t know where to start even.
Diane Foy 1:32 You have a new band. So this is your your third solo album?
Clayton Bellamy 1:36
This is my third record this year, put out a greatest hits record with my band The Road Hammers. And then I was part of a project called Black Mountain Whiskey Rebellion this spring, and now I just released a solo album called Clayton Bellamy and The Congregation which is I guess technically my fifth solo record, but this is I’m kind of counting this as my first, because of The Congregation. It’s something completely different.
Diane Foy 2:05
It’s a whole new vibe. And it’s definitely different influences of rock and r&b and gospel mixed into one which is wicked.
Clayton Bellamy 2:16 Absolutely, thank you.
Diane Foy 2:17 Yeah. So when does that album come out?
Clayton Bellamy 2:20
The, we just put out a focus track here about a month ago. And the album will come out this summer. And we’re just about to release, I’m getting set to release a single in the UK and Germany in February.
Diane Foy 2:34 Will there be a video for it?
Clayton Bellamy 2:35
Yes, we did a video for the song that’s out right now called Commandment Number 11. And that’s probably going to be coming out this week. And, and then yes, the whatever the next single will be.
I’m suspecting it’s going to be a song called Church of Rock and Roll and which is fitting for a band called The Congregation. And that’s going to be released to radio in Europe and then worldwide digitally.
Diane Foy 3:04
What kind of musicians did you get together for this new band The Congregation?
Clayton Bellamy 3:11
You know what it was, it was a mix, of I selfishly wanted to do a lot of of it myself. Myself and my producer Scott Bagget had really had the vision for what we wanted The Congregation to be and sound like. So I played all the guitars, mostly safe for a few things. I called in some friends. Pat Buchanan, who is a famous Nashville session player who’s played with Leonard Skinner and Cyndi Lauper was sort of his big gigs when he was younger. And I also used Audley Freed who’s plays with Sheryl Crow and and and used to play with the Black Crows. He came in and blasted a few solos on few things, but Scott played all the bass and we had Scott playing drums as well as Chad Cromwell and Greg Morrow, or both of those cats we had on there, it’s a it’s the band is a two drummer concept. So we were we were really kind of building around that the two drummers and lots of loops and, and and riffs that read kind of come up with it was it was different than any record I’d ever made before because I hadn’t. I didn’t sit down and write the songs like a singer songwriter would with acoustic guitars and that kind of thing. It was really a collaborative effort of trying to find more, you know, trying to find a feeling musically and, and, and create that first before before lyrics.
Diane Foy 4:53 And what’s happening with The Road Hammers right now?
Clayton Bellamy 5:00
Oh The Road Hammers are great. We’re actually we’re writing right now for a new record. So that’s we just come off of, we put out an album, called The Squeeze. And then we followed that up with a greatest hits record. So we’ve just been touring, and now writing for that new record. So it’s, it’s definitely, with all the projects that I’m involved in. It’s a it’s a constant cycle of write, record, release, write, record release, which is great, because that’s, that’s really what I was hoping to have happen.
Diane Foy 5:26 And touring.
Clayton Bellamy 5:27
Yes. And and of course then, and touring, which is, which is the most important part nowadays.
Diane Foy 5:34 For sure. Yeah. Is that what you love most?
Clayton Bellamy 5:37
I don’t know because as soon as I get sick of being on the road, I get to come home and and just take in writing songs or, or, or doing the business part, you know? And then when I start getting stir crazy, I get to go back out on the road. So.
Diane Foy 5:53 It’s perfect balance.
Clayton Bellamy 5:54
It really is. I love it all. Of course, all in moderation. But it’s it’s, I feel like it’s really healthy that that kind of thing. Not too much of either one, but but loving them all is great. Yeah.
Diane Foy 6:11 So, when you were young, what first drew you to music?
Clayton Bellamy 6:13
You know what? That’s a good question. It was always kind of something that I did one of my teachers kind of talk to my parents when I was like, a young young kid and say that they should that they should help me encourage me in music because I had a gift for it is what she told them when I was in grade one.
Diane Foy 6:36 Was there music classes?
Clayton Bellamy 6:38
Well, yeah, it was it was singing and arts and those kinds of things. And she just encouraged them to you know, that, that I had a gift and that I should, they should, you know, encourage me in it if I wanted to to pursue it. So they always did that. So I was always involved in choir, singing in church and singing in school. And then I developed it into singing solo at talent shows and these kinds of things and then starting to play the guitar. And you know, at 15, 16, I was playing in a band. And with a bunch of older guys like I was, they were all because I came from a small farming community in Northern Alberta, there’s not a whole lot of opportunities as far as, you know, getting out to see shows and stuff like that. I didn’t know how you did that. That was completely foreign to me. All I knew was that I could, I could play music and I could sing and I started playing with these guys who were all kind of, in their, in their late 30’s and 40’s. And they had this this country band and I went around and sing old country standards and all these kind of hall dances and, and and stuff. And I did that until I went to went off to college and studied music and music business.
Diane Foy 7:57 And how long was that program?
Clayton Bellamy 7:58
It was two years, I was in in that program, and learned, you know a lot about vocal performance, and like lots of technical stuff, and and a lot, you know about the business side of things, at least as far as they can teach it as in as a green, you know, kid fresh off the farm. You know.
Diane Foy 8:22
It’s definitely good to know the business part of it. You know, a lot of artists don’t have that.
Clayton Bellamy 8:26
Yeah, it really, it definitely gave me an edge going into what I was doing. I really always treated playing in a band like running a small business, which, you know, my hustle has always been like that. And I think largely due to that, you know, my, my, my teacher, in one of my professors and in college, you know, I walked into the room on the first day and he wrote music business on the, on the whiteboard. And then he just turned to us and he said, which is the bigger word? And obviously, it’s business and he said exactly. He said, If you don’t do the business, you don’t get to do the music. And, and that was that’s always been my philosophy and said, you know, the business is way more important than the music. They call it playing for a reason because it’s fun. You get to play. But, but the business stuff that you have to, you know, that’s where you, you know, be able to make a living and you be able to kind of grow and and have and have more opportunities as if you’re taking care of that.
Diane Foy 9:36
So after college than what like what, how long was it between, say college and when The Road Hammer started? So what’s, what was your life like in that period? What were you doing?
Clayton Bellamy 9:47
I was like, I was like a stray dog. You know what I started a band out of college and then at that time there was there was clubs that you could, you know, there was a kind of a circuit of music of bands and clubs that you could go and play six nights a week, travel on Sundays and just stay out on the road doing that if you were a good cover band. So that doesn’t exist anymore, but then it did. And
so I got involved in that with with a band that started in college, which which quickly fell apart. You know, no one in there really had the wherewithal or, you know, to want to do that that in a serious fashion. So, I had to start from scratch again. I joined a couple of bands, I bounced around until I found, you know, some musicians that were kind of good and dedicated and started. Now doing this thing of touring pretty much all as far as on the regular I’d go out from Vancouver to Thunder Bay kind of never really quite get to Toronto, that was always, you know, or past that it was always that was Western Canada. And that’s, that’s where I went back and forth. And then down into the States, I would play, you know, in the Dakotas, North, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, all all in there. And that would I would just kind of cover that. And I did that for seven years, you know, which was essentially cutting my teeth. You know, I didn’t realize that at the time, but that’s what I was doing was honing my craft, doing that six nights a week playing guitar, you know, singing and learning songs and learning how to perform and engage an audience when they don’t want to be engaged. You know, which sometimes can be dangerous. And that’s what that’s really what kind of turned me into a performer and at that same time too I was, you know, over that time, I was starting to write and travel down to Nashville and meet people and make connections and and record. And I knew then that that was you know when I wanted to start making my own music and I knew that this thing of just going around and playing other people’s songs wasn’t you know wasn’t going to cut it for me I needed to do my own thing and play my own songs.
Diane Foy 12:27 And you released a couple solo albums then?
Clayton Bellamy 12:30
Yes, I released two solo records and they both did absolutely well. The first record I released a it won a an Alberta Recording Industry Award which was really cool that that really made me feel like I was on the right track. And and and definitely spurred me on it did an EP of five songs and and after winning that, it just really spurred me on to want to write more. And that’s all I really wanted to do. So I released a full length album. And then it didn’t really do anything or pulled me out of the clubs where I want it to be. So I ended up disbanding the band and I moved to Nashville for a year. And I spent a year down there just kind of living in the city and writing songs and meeting people and just trying to network my way around the city there. And after a year of that, I moved back to Canada back to Calgary, and that’s where I had the audition for The Road Hammers.
Diane Foy 13:37
So that was like an open call audition, or did you get some kind of connection?
Clayton Bellamy 13:42
No, that was definitely a who you know, kind of call. Jason McCoy was I had only known him peripherally like we had met, you know, crossing paths backstage before at shows. He was still he was a big deal at that time. It just won a Country Music Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year he was, you know, he was on the top of his game as a solo artist he had a platinum record with Born Again in Dixieland back when there was Platinum records, you know, and, and I was still just kind of a upstart, you know, guy who I had a name in the in the prairies, but that was it. And I hadn’t really played any big shows or been on any big tours. That been an opener for you know, I was like the consummate opener all the time. But what I had was, you know, I had made friends with a drummer, who was Jason McCoy’s drummer, and he I didn’t know that he was but I used him Scott Christenson. I had used him to play some shows with me back in the day, and when Jason was looking for his kind of rock and roll guy to his country guy. He started holding auditions out in Ontario and he had audition guys and couldn’t find the right fit. And Scott just kept telling him you got to come out west, come up to Calgary, you have to meet Clayton. So I got the call. And the first time I kind of was, I was a little distant, disenfranchised from my trip my my time in Nashville, and, and my failed solo record that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. But after much encouragement, you know, I went down and I met Jason and I met Chris and I agreed to an audition. So he gave me you know, half a dozen songs. And at that time, I had never played lead guitar in a band. So I had, I basically I would take the you know, guitar solo, but he was really looking for somebody who was going to be a good you know, doing guitar solos too. So I had a week to learn these, these songs that he had sent me. And I remember I had a gig at the same time, up in Yellowknife for some reason, and I had to, I sat in the back of this van. I don’t even remember talking to anybody else in the band for the whole trip up and the whole trip. All I did was that my headphones on, learning the songs just to the best of my abilities, you know. And it turned out great. A week later I showed up at the audition. And they didn’t tell me they were filming but at the time they were filming the first season of the Road Hammers TV Show. And Joel Stewart, who’s the director and producer of the TV show, just met me at the door. And I’m like, What are you doing here, Joel? And he’s like, well, we’re filming a TV show. So hope you’re learned your stuff because you’re going to be on live. You know, we’re going to film this audition.
Diane Foy 16:52 For the world to see.
Clayton Bellamy 16:54
Exactly. Don’t be nervous. I was already nervous. I’d never been in an audition. I’d never even. You know, stood on that side of the stage to play in a band before it always been centered. So here I am, I walk in the room. I don’t really know it. You know anybody I know Scott and, you know, luckily, I had over prepared for the audition. You know, I knew the tempos. I knew the songs. I knew the solos. I knew the words. So when people were kind of going, Well, I don’t know. Scott’s like, How fast is this go? And I just kind of piped up I said, well, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s one 110 BPM and right away, you know, it was bam, we were into the song and, and these kinds of little things where I just really showed up over prepared and, and the whole time we’re playing these songs. Jason’s just smiling away and like, all right, this this is looking good. He’s smiling. And after I’m done, they they left the room with the cameras and Jason and it was kind of standing there with Christenson Scott and said, well, that’s good sign buddy you did good, he never smiled at anybody there in auditions.
Diane Foy 18:01 That’s a good sign.
Clayton Bellamy 18:02
Yeah, exactly. So I, I really I came back into the room and with the cameras and Jason and they just they offered me the gig right there on on camera if you watch first season of The Road Hammer, so that scene, that’s all kind of real time it’s not staged. It was all you know, right there and then and and accepted and the rest was kind of history really.
Diane Foy 18:28 Is that show still available to see online? Maybe on CMT?
Clayton Bellamy 18:31
What o be honest, I’m not sure in the CMT is kind of defunct here in Canada. I don’t know where it is available. I would love to have it. I don’t own a copy of either season. And it was really an exciting journey. To look back and see, you know, even as much as I had been playing and as much as I had been, you know, touring and had gone to college and studied music and all these things. Just how green I was at that time was unreal. When I look back on it, like I, I’d never set foot on the tour bus, I’ve never seen what a national tour look like or even, you know, the, the, what it took to put something like that together. And the amount of people never had a record deal, or a pet or a manager or publisher, and all of that stuff kind of just happened overnight, suddenly, you know, and that that same year, I got married and I had a baby. And we had a number one record like all in one year and it’s like my feet never touched the ground and even remember, most of it, you know, it was just a blur.
Diane Foy 19:40 Was it like 2004?
Clayton Bellamy 19:42
- Right after that audition we kind of we kind of went headlong into, into making the record. I actually got a couple of songs that I co wrote with the band with Jason and Chris and on there and we put this album together and it dropped into at the end of 2005. And along with the TV show, and it just exploded, you know, the album went platinum and the, the, it debuted at number one. And we had a number one single on it with these bounded down and three top fives. So it was, it was unreal, the how the was just that, that instant of preparation meeting opportunity which is which is what I believe that’s what I call luck all the time is that it’s nothing but preparation meeting opportunity. It was just that little spark in the grass and it just went boom. And that was it. And then two years later we signed a deal with Sony in Nashville. And we released that same record with a with a new name called Blood Sweat and Steel down in the U.S. and we were touring and recording and never look back four or five albums deep now.
Diane Foy 21:00
Wow, that’s such an amazing band. And when I saw you guys live, it was so much fun. And you won a lot of awards, CCMA Awards and JUNO for The Road Hammers, right?
Clayton Bellamy 21:09
Yeah, absolutely. We’ve been we’ve been really blessed you know five CCMA Awards three time Group of the Year, we won a JUNO for that first album for a country recording of the year which was was unreal I still pinch myself when I want to you know think about being in that class with with the the other artists that are that call themselves JUNO Award winners. It’s it’s pretty amazing to think about you know, and it it’s always it’s just continued you know, last year we won Group of the Year again, which you know, you after 13 years as a band you start to kind of go well or just you know, now we’re going to be relegated to the old boys club or we’re just going to be the the bridesmaid and never the bride.
Diane Foy 21:58 The one is the, that group that’s nominated every year but never wins.
Clayton Bellamy 22:00
Exactly. And there we go. We pulled off a win last year or the year before. So it was amazing.
Diane Foy 22:08 When did you move to Nashville was that with The Road Hammers?
Clayton Bellamy 22:09
I went back and forth. I moved. I moved in for to Nashville. And then I move back in, or wait. Yeah, actually might have been oh, seven, middle seven, I moved back there. And I spent seven years in.
Diane Foy 22:27 Did The Road Hammer’s still have a fan base in the US?
Clayton Bellamy 22:30
Yeah, we do. There’s a lot of more than the, you know, because of the gift of satellite radio, and the internets and these things now, you know, The Road Hammers have continued even though we haven’t had a record deal there. I have continued to kind of flourish in those niche markets. We also, you know, have a really great name in the industry, you know, which is something I’m really proud of is that, you know, I became, we both our band and us as individuals became part of the fabric of Nashville you know like and have, you know, people knew when you mentioned our band, are you they know our names they they know who we are in the industry which is really some accomplishment that I hold dear to my heart you know getting to do things like play the Grand Ole Opry and and being invited to the Ryman you know. These these kinds of milestones that you know really set set you apart and really stick with you in your career.
Diane Foy 23:42
That’s such a milestone for country music it’s that’s that’s the town yet you want to be in Nashville?
Clayton Bellamy 23:48 Yeah, absolutely.
Diane Foy 23:49
What kind of music Are you listening to when you were growing up? Was it country? Was it rock? Was it all over the place?
Clayton Bellamy 23:54
Yeah. No, it wasn’t country at all. And I was never really exposed to country music to be honest. The closest, when I really got into country music is when I discovered Steve Earle, Copperhead Road and then El Corazon was really an impactful record for me. And so I dove into the left side of the pool. Right off the bat with country music. It was I was listening to Steve Earle. I was listening to John Prime. I was listening to Towns Van Zandt, Guy Clark, that was the stuff that really interested me the weird stories and I wanted to hear the you know, the the storytelling songwriter stuff was what I loved. And other than that growing up, I listened to rock and roll. You know, I listened to Humble Pie. I listened to Otis Redding and I was like growing up on on Joe Cocker. And, you know, the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. That’s that’s kind of where I cut my teeth musically as a kid. So that’s kind of what I brought to The Hammers was that kind of stuff. Swagger where Jay was kind of always coming from a side of old country. He is like a, an old, classic country historian. He could tell you anything about any and never be stumped. I’ve never seen him stumped. You ask him a question about about a classic country artist or a song and he’ll tell you just like that..
Diane Foy 25:20 I want to talk to him now.
Clayton Bellamy 25:23 Yeah.
Diane Foy 25:24 I’m a country girl. I grew up on country.
Clayton Bellamy 25:25
There you go. Yeah. So then you guys would get along great. And it was that kind of mixture too. I think that what really made the band set apart because, you know, when we were playing live and stuff, he’s coming from that side of, of being, you know, that even just way he plays guitar as opposed to way I, I tackled the instrument. And those things together just, you know, really is what made the band what it was or what it is.
Diane Foy 25:52
Yeah and that’s usually my favorite bands too that have that mix. You know, because I love all kinds of music. I love rock. I love you know, country I love hip hop. I love everything. So when it’s all kind of combined, I’m like, Ah, that’s my band. And I think I’ve heard you say that you love Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Black Crowes. Like those are some my favorite bands too.
Clayton Bellamy 26:15
Yeah, absolutely and those, and all of that stuff is like I said, when I when I kind of brought his influences, because I remember it blowing my mind thinking that he never listened to the Black Crowes. You’ve never heard a Humble Pie. I mean, it just back then it was it was it was odd now, we spent so many years on the road and swapping music and stuff with each other that you know, we’ve kind of burst ourselves in, in in each other’s influences.
Diane Foy 26:43
After the success of The Road Hammers. What made you want to go and do a solo album again?
Clayton Bellamy 26:52
No matter what kind of band your hand if you’re a creator. You know, there’s always a certain like with special with The Road Hammers was, you know, it had such a certain thing about it, you know, it can only say so many things in the, in the circle that is The Road Hammers as far as musically. And I, for me, I just wanted to, you know, I had other things I wanted to say and other places I wanted to go creatively with this project with The Congregation that’s kind of that’s kind of what that what that was. And it was also it for me, it turned into a reinvention of myself. It was it was something different that I’d never done before. And I wanted it to be kind of outside myself. Like, you know, Clayton Bellamy doesn’t really exist in The Congregation. The preacher man does, but but not not Clayton, the the guy who you know comes home and chases kids around and and, you know, lives out in the in the woods and Bonneville, Alberta, you know, that guy isn’t in the congregation. I wanted to create something that was almost a caricature of myself and and but also was, this was kind of like for lack of a better term this was kind of my Ziggy Stardust album.
Diane Foy 28:23
Yeah because you had two albums before Everyone’s A Dreamer and Five Crow Silver. How was your progression gone from that 2012 album to now?
Clayton Bellamy 28:35
Well, those those two records were really an extension of my singer songwriter, kind of persona, you know, wanting to kind of express myself in that, like we were talking about those influences the Steve Rose, the Guy Clark’s, the those kind of those kind of folks and I was finding as I was going along that path for two records. In those other influences rock and roll influences kind of were coming out and showing themselves more and more. And not only that it because of that, because they were and because of the sound of my voice and the way I was producing the records. It wasn’t being accepted, really in the country world, you know. And the albums were, they were always they were was, you know, was good. They were always being critically accepted, but not commercially.
Diane Foy 29:35
Yeah, I remember I think when we met, you had an album with Gordie Johnson. That wasn’t out but you know, I saw you live and it’s like, I went to the show because I thought oh, Clayton Bellamy Road Hammers, Country I want you to go get my country on. And then you just exploded on stage with this wicked rock’n’roll band. I was just blown away. But remember, we talked and you weren’t going to release that album? Where you are advised not to release an album at that time, because it would be a shock to your country fans. Is that right?
Clayton Bellamy 30:06
Yeah. And that was a battle that I that I ended up winning. And that was part of the progression into the congregation where I, I got to a point in my life where I needed to, you know, reinvent myself
completely as an artist. I was reinventing myself as an individual starting out on my own again, and being single and being moving back from, you know, into a new place a new all of these things new. And I just, I knew that, as an artist, I definitely didn’t want to go back to the same place that I’d really hung my hat on this David Bowie, quote, were here and I’m paraphrasing, but he was saying that, if unless you’re swimming in the deep end where your feet can’t touch bottom, then you’re not really creating your best work, you’re not living dangerously enough with your art. And, and I really, that’s where I wanted to be. That’s where I wanted to be making music that that was dangerous and that was different and, and that I had never done before. And it was, it was hard. It’s, it was it was something that I wasn’t even sure if that I could do when I first started writing songs like that and trying to collaborate with people and, and it sucked, the songs sucked and the collaborators didn’t get what I was trying to do. I had to, I had to go out and seek out different people outside of my circle of, of, you know, influence to try and and and come up with great songs and it took it took a couple of years of writing and hundreds of songs before I really started to find my groove and and reinvent how I create and so it was definitely a scary experience, but it was kind of a rebirth at the same time.
Diane Foy 32:05
Yeah, yeah, you have to take a risk to, to get to the greatness.
Clayton Bellamy 32:09
And that’s, then that’s really what I was, like I said, hanging my hat on that quote, I was like, All right. Well, if that’s, if that’s what he says that I got to do that I’m going to do it because this stuff that I’m making now is shit. You know, and I don’t want to make this anymore. I don’t believe it. If I don’t believe it, how am I going to expect anybody else out in the world to listen to it and make and believe it?
Diane Foy 32:34
And how did those things come about if you’re not, is it just the co writers influence? Or how did those songs just come vote that you wrote, but they’re not you.
Clayton Bellamy 32:45 Past ones you mean?
Diane Foy 32:47 Yeah, but the ones that you’re saying we’re shit.
Clayton Bellamy 32:50
Well, at the time, I was just I think, I don’t know if it was the co writer part, but it was just the, I think the you get into a place where you just you are comfortable with and you know how the song is going to go and you can you know, someone comes up with an idea and you say something that you’ve said 100 times before and you just, you just keep going down that path.
Diane Foy 33:13 More like a formula kind of thing.
Clayton Bellamy 33:15
Exactly. And you, you know, I’ve been writing that formula for 10 years so I know what I’m going to say before even say it I could see the song and how it’s going to lay out whereas you know and I still have to fight with those habits those certain you know everyone has their their their things that they go to or their go to’s whether it’s chord changes, or whether it’s a vocal ways they sing something, you know, but so you have to fight against that. And I think that’s what really what Bowie was talking about, is is pushing past those things and, and, and living dangerously in your creative space, you know, and that once I started doing that, then I started really making something that I was excited about.
Diane Foy 34:02
Yeah, and creating your own sound and figuring out where you’re going, what direction you’re going in as well.
Clayton Bellamy 34:10
Yeah. And, and one of the best compliments that I’ve heard, since this music has come out with the congregation is that people are saying that I found my own music like that, that this sounds like, like me, because my whole career as a solo artist, I’ve always heard that same thing. Well, this, you know, that the music doesn’t match the man. Whereas now that’s, you know, that’s the feedback that I’m getting. So I feel like I’ve I’ve struck a chord and that I’m on the right path. I did what I needed to do to get there.
Diane Foy 34:46
Yeah, and you can’t discount you know, all those experiences to get here because that’s part of the journey.
Clayton Bellamy 34:53
Oh, absolutely. You know, and had I not been in the road hammers are not done any of that I you know, I wouldn’t be ready to do what I’m doing now.
Diane Foy 35:02 It’s exciting.
Clayton Bellamy 35:04 It’s really exciting. It’s a, it’s been a great ride.
Diane Foy 35:08
Do you have any advice for musicians coming up that kind of look at your career and go, wow, he’s so successful. I want that.
Clayton Bellamy 36:16
Yeah, you know, I think especially in this day and age, it’s an instant gratification thing. Everybody wants to be instant famous. Everybody wants to be frickin on the main stage. Now, they want it right now. And of course, I did that too. When I was coming up, I want it now and I couldn’t. I had my head so far up my ass. I couldn’t see that I clearly wasn’t ready for that. But there’s a certain swagger that you get that you can’t get unless you’ve done your time. You have to work at it. It’s It’s It’s about building a career is is like a good friend of mine, Mike Plume who said this, he said building a good career is like building laying bricks in a wall. Every day you go out and you’re putting laying those bricks, that foundation. So that way as you’re going up, that that wall and that wall gets higher as you continue to work. If somebody pulls a brick out from underneath you, you only go down one brick. And you can continue to because there’s always going to be setbacks. But if you’re if if you win a singing contest on TV, and overnight become , you know, a super successful or, you know, this this thing, like a and then somebody pulls a brick out from underneath you, you go right back to the bottom you disappear.
Diane Foy 36:40 Yeah, because you don’t have that foundation.
Clayton Bellamy 36:42
Exactly. My advice to somebody is to is to do that to focus on on building those bricks and treating it like you’re, you’re, you’re running a small business and every day you get up and you hustle and you do good work and write, do your best to hone your craft as far as, you know, writing great songs. And, you know, one thing that I’ve always done and, and always tell everybody is to surround yourself with excellence.You know, the best players that you can find the best writers that you can find the, you know, the best producers that you can find, and no, you can’t always afford them, or you can’t always,
you know, get them to work with you or whatever, but that that at times, you know, even just befriending them at times is enough to kind of get you down the trail and you just keep developing those relationships. And, you know, that, to me is how you grow as an artist and as a, you know, in the music business and, and just keep building those bricks in a wall.
Diane Foy 37:50
Yeah, it’s amazing. So I read recently you’re you’re working on a bursary of some sort to help you know, kids in the arts?
Clayton Bellamy 38:01
Yeah, actually I just had a meeting about the fundraiser last night in when I went to college when I left only went to college, I got a $2500 bursary from the the fine arts society here in Bonneville. And as kind of part of something trying to give back to that. I started a bursary. Now that through the Northern Lights School district that is going to hopefully continue on an annual basis where kids can apply to get money to help them further, further their fine art, education, whether that’s a dance, or that’s in music, or drama. It’s just something that I want to do to kind of give back to the area that gave me so much and gave me my start. So that’s we’re just in the midst of finalizing all of the kind of application procedures for that and, and looking forward to, to watching that grow and seeing the next kind of generation of artists and kids come out of this area.
Diane Foy 39:16
Yeah, it’s important because like, so much of the arts are being taken out of schools.
Clayton Bellamy 39:22
They really are. And, you know, out here where I grew up, there’s there’s not a lot of programs once you get out of junior high, there’s nothing in the high schools and there’s nothing and it’s, you know, nevermind, it was get on my apple box for a second, but, you know, never mind the fact that, you know, maybe you’re not going to be the next Springsteen or Bowie or, or whatever, but you, music has an outlet for kids. Not every kid is a jock, you know, play hockey or basketball or whatever I wasn’t. And if I didn’t have music, as my outlet I don’t know, kind of what what I would have done, you know, or gotten into. And, And to me, that’s where I really look at it as is that it’s a, it’s a form of expression trying to sort your shit out at that age in. And to have that is really important. And you know, kids are our one of our most precious resources, and I’m really passionate about inspiring them and to do what they want to do to follow their dreams. So, so this is important to me to kind of give that to the community.
Diane Foy 40:32
Yeah, it’s great. I asked this a lot of my guests. What is your big picture why? Why do you do what you do? What is it that drives you?
Clayton Bellamy 40:40 Wow, that’s a good question.
Diane Foy 40:41 I get deep.
Clayton Bellamy 40:46
I’m getting deep here on the show. My big picture Why? I think I’ve always just had this compulsion to create. Ever since I was a little kid I like I can remember making stuff up and, and making up songs and making up rhymes in. And it excites me like, like nothing else really does. And it’s just always been something that I chase is that muse. And, and because I know that she doesn’t always come around, I’m always looking for her and, and it never if anything it’s gotten it’s gotten stronger as the years have gone by I love it more and, and it excites me more and and that’s always what what, what’s kind of driven me to to want to do what I do because there’s lots of things you can do for a living that are a lot easier and a lot more you know, as opposed to being in music and and doing that thing, but.
Diane Foy 41:53 You got to want it more than anything else.
Clayton Bellamny 40:55
Yeah, you really do you have to if you’re going to do this as a living, you have to really want to just be involved in every aspect of, of it and, and I’ve always just wanted to immerse myself in it, whether that be, you know, writing, producing, touring, you know, just doing this interview, you know, all of it is, to me is exciting and it’s, it’s what, when I get up out of bed is what, you know, fires me up and motivates me to attack the day. So and that’s, that’s why I continue to do it and don’t go on to do something else because it’s, that’s the thing and it’s that when I grew up, I was always my dad always had this saying so do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. And I really, I don’t feel like I ever have. And as long as that’s still there, I’m going to continue to do it.
Diane Foy 42:56 Wonderful. Anything else to add before we wrap up?
Clayton Bellamy 43:00
Yeah, well, I mean, if, if people want to follow me on Instagram at Clayton Bellamy, they can check out the new song right now, “Commandment # 11”. It’s on Spotify and Apple Music and Amazon and all those places where you download your stream your music.
Diane Foy 43:17 Oh, thank you for joining.
Clayton Bellamy 43:19 Awesome. Thanks so much Diane.
It was so great talking to Clayton. My goal for these interviews is for us to be inspired by thriving artists journeys, and also to motivate us if we need to step up our game in this creative life. Some takeaways from this interview is that everyone sees the success of a band like The Road Hammers but what they don’t see is the more than a decade of work that Clayton put in before even being in the band. A key thing that Clayton mentioned was his college professor saying “If you don’t do the business, you don’t get to do the music.” He took that to heart and always took care of the business aspects of his career.
Next, he spent 7 years on the road honing his craft and learning how to engage an audience and all that prepared him for the success of The Road Hammers. Clayton mentioned the quote “Preparation meeting opportunity” and he came to the Hammers audition over-prepared and got the gig.
Another important part of his story is after all the success; he felt a need to reinvent himself. The singer-songwriter solo albums that he put out were not an honest representation of who he was as an artist. He is a rocker at heart and he needed an outlet, he needed to get out of his comfort zone and take some risks with his songwriting. The result is his new project The Congregation.