Country-roots band The Heartbroken have a new motto: Every day is a work day.
As they roam from town-to-town on their first tour of the East Coast, the group is more than familiar with the ups and downs of being a hard-working band in Canada. "Yesterday was the weirdest day," reflects drummer Blake Manning. "We had a bad experience with a club the night before, and then woke up to the Canadian County Music Association Group Of The Year nomination. That's just how it goes with us. The highs and the lows of The Heartbroken. And then Stuart (Cameron) and Dav (Doyle) ran out of gas on the highway, about half an hour outside of town. Pete (Fusco) and I were having a day off yesterday, and our day off got squarely taken away from us. It turned into a work day."
"Every day is a work day boys, every day," singer Damhnait Doyle reminds them.
Doyle knows perhaps a little better than the three guys about life on the road, and being in a band. She's done the solo thing, and then was in the group Shaye for several years. A star in her own right, she's more than happy to be one-quarter of an up-and-coming act. "It wasn't where I thought I would be, because it's actually a much more noble pursuit than anything I ever thought, to be honest. It's four of us fully committed together, believing in ourselves and each other, and it's the most incredible feeling musically and as a family I've ever experienced."
Stuart Cameron has lots of stage and recording experience, first appearing as a kid with his father John Allen Cameron. Over the years he became the go-to guitarist for many Canadian artists, from Ashley MacIsaac to Matthew Good. "Three of us, out of the four, it's our first experience being in a band," says Cameron. "It's always been playing for other people. I think out of all those experiences of playing for others, and watching their careers rise, or fall, you learn from all that. I've never been happier, this is where I'm supposed to be."
The four of them didn't have to look hard to find suitable band mates. Cameron, Fusco and Manning are much in-demand studio pros in Toronto, who also played for fun together, often with Doyle. The idea of committing to a band wasn't a hard sell. "It was really easy, all of us are great friends, so it was an easy decision to be in a band with them," acknowledges Fusco. "We know how to be friends, and it's easy to be in a band with your friends."
The plans were hatched almost two years ago, at what was originally just another day hanging out. "We didn't even know we were writing a song," remembers Manning. "We always hang out together anyways, for years and years. We were all sitting around Stuart's kitchen with guitars, and I think we got half-way through the song before we released we were writing a really good song. There was no real idea of how the sound was going to form, it just kinda happened. By the third or fourth song, we were like, 'this is great, we should make a record, we should start a band!' And it took us so many years to figure that out, which was so stupid. Because we'd been sitting in that kitchen or other kitchens for years, and it took us that long to go hey, wow, this is really good."
Once the decision was made, the debut album Tonight Tonight came about. That's the disc that got them the CCMA nomination, a big one for a rookie band. Just like the kitchen sessions, everybody is credited with the songwriting. For four people who have spent so long working on their individual careers, they certainly are playing well with others.
"I'm very happy people are noticing," says Doyle. "With the CCMA, that makes a big difference, because it's very difficult to be a beginning band in the music industry right now. It's difficult to be an established band in the music industry right now. We're fighting for every nook and cranny and edge we can find."
It's hard work every day for The Heartbroken, because as they say, every day is a work day.