Canadian band the Washboard Union play a bright and tuneful variety of country music with a folky undercurrent and just a touch of scruffy attitude. The Washboard Union were formed by David Roberts (vocals, washboard, harmonica), Aaron Grain (vocals, guitar), and Chris Duncombe (vocals, banjo). Grain and Duncombe first met when they were 15 years old and growing up in Kelowna, British Columbia. Their first meeting had the potential to be awkward, as Chris' father was dating Aaron's mother, but the two bonded over their love of music. When their folks married, Grain and Duncombe became stepbrothers, and in 2010 they decided to try their luck in the big city and moved to Vancouver.
They rented rooms in a large Tudor-style mansion that had been converted into an apartment building. One of their fellow tenants was David Roberts, and the three became fast friends, jamming together and knocking out songs. Originally playing out under the name Run GMC, the trio eventually expanded into a seven-piece band with the addition of guitarists James Baldwin and Craig McCaul, bassist Evan Bates, and drummer Brendan Krieg. (Fiddler Dougal McLean, drummer Matt Van Dyke, and bassist Scott Paulley were also part of the lineup at one time.) Roberts, Grain, and Duncombe remained the creative core of the band, and under their leadership the group developed a strong following on the Vancouver club scene.
In 2012, the band, now known as the Washboard Union, released their self-titled debut album. The group had some high-profile help making the LP. GGGarth Richardson, who had worked with Rage Against the Machine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was introduced to the band by a mutual friend and volunteered to produce the sessions. Bob Ezrin, who produced iconic albums for Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, and Kiss, also stepped in to help with the track "Half Cree." The album fared well in Canada, and the group became a leading attraction on the Canadian country scene.
The Washboard Union landed a deal with Slaight Music, an offshoot of Warner Music Canada, and they traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to record their major-label debut with producer Trey Bruce. The result was the 2015 EP In My Bones, which spawned two hits in their homeland. "Some Day" rose to 38 on the Canadian country chart, while the follow-up, "Maybe It's the Moonshine," peaked at number ten. ~ Mark Deming