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Sean Hamilton & The Amber Hour Premiere New Video “It Did”

The Calgary-based powerhouse couple wrangle some punk rock energy into the country music genre.

by Sebastian Buzzalino

Worlds collide in Sean Hamilton & the Amber Hour: part raw punk rock energy, honed over a decade-plus career in busted vans and beer-drenched trenches, part irreverent idolatry of the Canadian Queen of Country, Shania Twain. He (Sean Hamilton) is from Calgary, she (Amber Byrne) is from Edmonton; they recently got married last year in one of the social events of the summer, and together they hold multitudes between them. They overcome an otherwise tense rivalry in a musical union fused by a love for buds, beers and a kind of ‘Berta-baybee’ lifestyle that lives for summer love.

RANGE caught up with the duo to talk about their ice-melting single, “It Did,” a song that announces itself on their Instagram as “a goofy one liner,” continuing to add “It’s hot in Montrèal during the short summer nights and la belle provence is sticky with punch-drunk love, the kind so saccharine sweet it announces itself with a stupefied grin plastered on its face and a lopsided twirl into the room. Leather jackets, a rippling fringe, and tattoos. Millennial love is wholesome af, shared memes, and the heat death of the planet, but first, let’s share an ice cream cone to cool down, to come down. Bikes, beers, babes. Rock and roll for modern times, for modern love. We may never know what it do, but ‘It Did’ effervesces and spills over in glee like a warm tallboy and what it do should keep going, spinning and spinning until the track is worn down.

[editor’s note: the email interview has been edited for length and clarity.] 

“It Did” stands out, in part, because of its catchy, goofy one-liner hook. How did the song come about and what was the process behind leading with it as the first single for the full-length album?

Hamilton: It’s one of my favourite lines I’ve ever stumbled across. We were writing the bulk of the chorus and the sentiment was all there, we just needed a bow for it. We’d been doing lots of camping, mini biking and drinking beer by the river in Alberta and “I don’t know what it do, but it did” was a good reflection of where we were at linguistically. 

You recorded the music video in Montreal last summer, working with Alan Hildebrandt (PRIORS). Take us through the video and some of the inspiration behind the shots.

Byrne: Montreal has become our yearly get away that piggybacks on Sean playing Pouzza Fest with one of his punk bands, Julius Sumner Miller. Our favourite part of Montreal is just to run around, eat great food, and not worry about anything. I think the video reflects how carefree that place has become for us. 

Hamilton: Alan is a great guy and had a bunch of ideas ready to go. His thing is making a lot out of a little, so we went back and forth on some locations and then worked through a narrative. We just had fun the entire day of shooting and let the spirit lead us.

Your influences as a band tie together the dangerous glamour of rhinestone country and the unflinching earnestness of heart-in-throat punk, two genres with their own strong histories and traditions of storytelling. How do you two approach songwriting and storytelling in your work? What kind of stories are you most drawn to and how do they come out in your songs?

Hamilton: I come from a punk background, for sure. But I’ve always liked the parts of punk when you just play it on acoustic guitar and the stories come out — like the Replacements, for example. So, when we write something leaning towards country, I think we just make sure it has some of the power and intensity that I love from a live punk show.

Byrne: I tend to write more in the cheeky, relatable realm — most likely to do with not taking myself too seriously as a songwriter, but also just growing up with nothing but Shania Twain and The Chicks on the radio. 

What can we expect for the upcoming full-length? What are some of the main things you want to accomplish with the release?

Hamilton: We just really want it to be in the world! No one gets to reinvent the wheel, but I think we have something slightly original going on and I want to add it to the tapestry of our music community. The album has some sneaky punk rock bangers in it, but definitely dressed in the disguise of an older, more mature sound. I would say, overall, it’s a rhinestone-forward record that has a fun rock band behind it.

Byrne: As far as what the record aims to accomplish, I just want to play shows where the people watching are singing the words back to me. It would be icing on the cake if it made enough money to not have to work in the service industry anymore. 

If, as a band, you could invite any three people, living or dead, back to the van after the show for some drinks, some hangs, some laughs, who would it be and why?

Byrne: John McVie, the bass player for Fleetwood Mac. Bass players can definitely be the weirdos, so his perspective on all the hot goss and drama of that band would be the best.

Hamilton: I think bringing back one of the old composers, like Tchaikovsky or Brahms: having them in the van drinking beers and showing them what music sounds like now would be the most mind blowing thing! Like, here’s Turnstile and George Jones, and our band is somewhere in the middle [laughs].

Byrne: Pedro Pascal, because he’s so in right now. 

Hamilton: He’s everyone’s daddy.