Floridian beard-punks Hot Water Music did it. So, too, did Welland, ON's Attack in Black. But the latest group of ex-hardcore punks to trade in their heather-grey hoodies for bolo ties is Cobourg, ON's Gentlemen Husbands.
And we have Ryan Adams to thank for that.
"We were driving up to Montreal to play with a bunch of death metal bands, and Rick [Ballard, singer] played us Heartbreaker," says guitarist Ryan Hutcheson. "Months later, we joined a folk band."
Three years later, and after earning spots at Canadian Music Week and North by Northeast, the Husbands haven't looked back. They'll be rolling up to the Seahorse on May 8 with their trademark school-bus rig in tow.
Despite their relative youth as a band, Gentlemen Husbands have been downright prolific: They've already released two EPs with a third on its way, sculpting their universe around commuters' travelogues, boozy barroom blues and time-tested heartland rock. But while Hutcheson---who cut his teeth with several hardcore acts and emo-core outfit These Silhouettes---left the Cookie Monster vocals back in 2007, he says his formative years weren't lost. "There's lots of crossover between punk" and folk music, he says, "and there's an honesty to both of those genres. It's about learning how to write good songs, stage presence and good live shows more than anything. It's a great training ground."
But for Hutcheson, folk music, to borrow Greg Keelor's wisdom, is just like going home---in more ways than one. While the Husbands liberally, and quite literally, reference local heroes Gord Downie and Blue Rodeo in their songs, the band's workmanlike approach is heavily informed by their blue-collar upbringing in Cobourg.
"We're from the country, and that's brought out on the lyrical side," says Hutcheson. "Rick is a construction worker, and we've all worked factory jobs and at gas stations. It's all manual labour."