Warner Music Canada photo

The Washboard Union heads to Westerner Days July 20th

Chris Duncombe talks latest record and the band’s road to success

Country group The Washboard Union is hitting the Westerner Days stage July 20th.

The Express got a chance to catch up with Chris Duncombe of the band to talk about their sophomore album What We’re Made Of and the success they’ve had over the years.

The new album, produced by Matt Rovey, who has done work for the Zac Brown Band and Dean Brody, was recorded partly in Nashville, Toronto and Vancouver with Jeff ‘Diesel’ Dalziel.

And its already seen great success, with the album’s first single, Shine as the band’s third Top Ten Country Radio hit, which they performed live on the Canadian Country Music Awards, walking away with a CCMA Award for 2017 Roots Artist of the Year.

“We wrote that song in Nashville with a good friend of ours from Australia and I remember coming out of the room after we wrote that song and it felt like we were floating above the floor,” said Duncombe with a laugh.

“What it said meant a lot to us.”

He added that they are lucky they get to spend a lot of time with their fans on the road, and Shine was a culmination of a bunch of people’s stories.

“Since its come out people have come back to us along the way and said that they have really connected with that song.”

One woman, in remission from stage four cancer, said Shine was her song while she was going through treatment.

“And we were sent a video of 60 or 70 kids from La Glace, Alberta who took it upon themselves to learn Shine in their music class and record it,” said Duncombe, adding that the group decided to go out and surprise the kids, performing it with them at their school.

“We’re so fortunate to have fans who really connect with our music and I think that there’s so many songs on this record that are the culmination of all those incredible stories from people we meet along the way.”

Having grown up in Kelowna, Duncombe and fellow band mate Aaron Grain have quite the story. Their parents started dating when they were around 13-years-old, making them step brothers!

“Aaron and I kind of grew up in the same house and got our drivers licences together and went to college together and dropped out of college together and we met David in Vancouver when we finally moved down there.”

David Roberts, fellow band mate, came into the picture when Grain and Duncombe made the move to Vancouver. There was a 1920’s Tudor-style mansion that a bunch of musicians took over. At any given time, there were around three different bands living in the house, Roberts being one of them.

Duncombe recalls that every Tuesday night, the guys would hang out in the basement studio, playing old trucker and bluegrass songs they knew as kids growing up.

“There was a washboard hanging on the wall and the washboard was always that percussion that families had when they couldn’t afford drums. It’s just such an engrained part of country music that it just seemed natural when David finally came up with the name. It just seemed to really fit us,” said Duncombe.

With their unique style of country tunes, the group has been able to set themselves apart, lending to their constant success in the country music world.

One of their highlights of the year was touring with Nashville superstars Old Dominion, along with getting to perform with the Zac Brown Band. The group was also asked to play The Bluebird Cafe and The Listening Room in Nashville, which Duncombe says, “As a songwriter, it’s something you really aspire to.”

He added, “We’ve played to some big crowds, much larger than we’ve ever played for in our lives and I’d say it’s all wrapped up in the fact that now people know our songs and they sing our songs,” said Duncombe.

“Sometimes I lose my place in the song watching people sing along to our songs because it still blows my mind every time it happens. I’d say as artists that’s been the greatest gift we’ve received.”

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