Priestley goes country and documents reality

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Jason Priestley has a wicked sense of humor. He can laugh at himself as much as he can laugh at the entertainment business.

But the former "90210" star takes his passion for directing very seriously, especially the second season of CMT Canada's "The Road Hammers." The documentary series tracks the ups and downs of the band as its tries to break into the American country music business. Yes, it's a documentary, not a reality show. What's the difference?

" 'Road Hammers' is nonscripted," Priestley says. "We've all discovered that many of these so-called reality shows are loosely scripted, if not entirely scripted, just not performed by actors." He adds with a laugh, "Which makes it all the more upsetting; it's just badly acted television. But who am I to judge? At least I went to school to act badly."

The other thing that makes "Road Hammers" different is that the band members are established musicians, not off-the-bus aspiring stars.

"I edited it to really show the frustrations of the music business," says the Vancouver-born Priestley, who also directed the documentary "Barenaked in America" about the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies. "And not in a way that (other) shows have tried to show it, with young beautiful people with a guitar and a dream. These guys already have a record deal, and we are showing the insurmountable pile of shit that they have to deal with. You're left with your head in your hands wondering how anybody makes it in music business."

Jason McCoy, the band's leading man, says, "This season moves faster." He describes Priestley's directing style as "rock 'n' roll."

McCoy had a successful solo career before putting together the Road Hammers in Season 1. He says of the sophomore season: "I think we'd all had a good taste of what it's like to have a camera in our face. We got to know the boundaries of what we want to say and what we can say on TV. We didn't hold back as much."

McCoy is a self-described micromanager -- a part of him that comes across in the show. He and the band all have their quirks, which at the end of the day makes for good television whether it's a reality show or a documentary.

"It's good characters," McCoy says. "That's what has been the success of the band too. We don't just sell music these days; we sell characters."

The working title of the group's forthcoming album, to be released by Montage Music Group, is "Blood, Sweat and Steel."

Priestley and McCoy hope CMT in the U.S. eventually will pick up the show from its Canadian counterpart.
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