On Welcome to the Congregation, out Sept. 20 on Anthem Records, Road Hammers singer/guitarist Clayton Bellamy begins a fresh phase of his career with a new band and musical approach. With its combination of blues, rock and gospel, the album reconnects the Alberta-based artist with the sounds that were his earliest influences, adding a new dimension to the image that most country music fans have had of him over the past 15 years.
Bellamy describes the project’s overarching theme as a twist on the old cliché of sex, drugs and rock and roll. “It’s more peace, love, understanding… and rock and roll,” he says, although what he achieved in the studio won’t be mistaken for campfire sing-alongs, as demonstrated by the swampy first single, Resistorz.
Led by Bellamy’s blazing guitar work, the Congregation is an impressive ten-piece band made up a revolving cast of players and featuring two drummers, full horns and backup vocalists. It’s a complete rock and roll gospel experience with Bellamy serving as the preacher.
As on previous efforts, Bellamy captures all the energy of his live show on record—something that helped the Road Hammers become the highest selling Canadian country band of all time. But those fans now need to be prepared for the new Clayton Bellamy, as he explained when we recently caught up with him. Find out more at congregationmusic.com.
What was the process like making Welcome To The Congregation?
This was different from any record I have ever made. The whole idea behind this album was reinvention, so I wrote from a different place. I started with the music first—sometimes a drum groove, sometimes a guitar riff—and the lyrics came later. I wanted this to sound like a rock and roll tent revival.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
I think The Healing is one that sticks with me the most. It’s got a simple but powerful message that needs to be heard. The world needs healing now more than ever.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
Out of all the music I have made in my career, both as a writer and as a member of different bands, it seems to me that with The Congregation I have finally found MY music, and that’s a very great feeling.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
It’s probably been adjusting to being a single dad and balancing my work and my family.
What's your best touring story?
I can’t tell you my best; you’ll have to read my book for that one. But I was held up at gunpoint once in Wyoming at a gig because the gentleman didn’t like the way I looked. Maybe they don’t like long hair in Wyoming!