It would be a shame to use a clich» as feeble as "you can go home again" to start off this feature but in the case of singer/songwriter Julie Doiron, the sentiment is simply too apropos to pass up.
After close to six years of living in Montreal, the ex-Eric's Trip bassist recently moved back to her native New Brunswick with husband, painter Jon Claytor, and their three children Ben, Charlotte and Rose. The move coincides with the release of her lovely new solo effort Goodnight Nobody (Endearing/Jagjaguwar) and a new chapter in her family's life.
"I don't know if we ever intended to come back here," she says by phone from the new homestead. "I think that was the last thing on my mind when we moved to Montreal and for a few years, there was no way I'd ever see myself moving back to New Brunswick. As it turned out, the prospects of trying to find another apartment in Montreal was just too daunting and we wanted to buy a house so the timing was right. The days of those cheap Montreal rents are gone, unless you want to live in a neighbourhood that's not quite suitable for kids."
Goodnight Nobody is an album that, in time, will no doubt reflect her progressions in that special way that only music can. An exceedingly stunning affair, Goodnight Nobody features Doiron's fragile vocals complimented by her sparse guitar work and at times, the tasteful backing of her European touring backing Herman Dune. It's a captivating work that demands some patience but is solemnly rewarding upon repeated listens. The album was recorded largely in Paris during Doiron's respite in the late part of 2003.
"The goal was originally to complete everything in a single day but we ended up finishing eight of 12 tracks, which isn't bad considering," she says with a combination of pride and prudence. "I was listening to a lot of Bob Dylan records at the time and it really inspired me to try recording an album as quickly as he used to, in a day or two. I recorded most of the tracks with Herman Dune, who I had played with a lot in Europe so I figured we could pull it off. I didn't send them any demos or anything—they had only heard a couple of songs a night for three nights while we were on tour. Each song, we might have run through twice at the most. It worked really great for us—the record ended up sounding exactly how I wanted so I was quite pleased. I plan on doing it again."
Of the remaining four tracks, three were recorded with her friend Dave Draves at his Little Bullhorn studio in Ottawa. The other, a banjo-and-voice combo called appropriately "Banjo", was committed to tape in the Toronto apartment of Rick White, her former Eric's Trip bandmate. When asked if there would ever be a return engagement of the band's highly successful 2002 re-union tour (Eric's Trip disbanded the first time around in 1996), Doiron said nothing was imminent but another go wouldn't be completely out of the question.
"You never know. I may be working with Rick again at some point but that's far from confirmed. The Eric's Trip shows we did in 2002 went really well, and I still see Chris [Thompson] and Mark [Gaudet] from the band quite often so there's always a chance."
The grungy, psyche-inspired indie rock that Eric's Trip practiced is miles away from the more introspective music that Doiron performs nowadays. Yet her love of collaboration leaves the door open for future explorations aplenty, whether they take place overseas or back home in New Brunswick.
"I love to play with other musicians and I love playing more energetic music. I do that sometimes on tour with Herman Dune but it never gets to the point of distortion pedals and power chords. I absolutely love rock music; it's just not what I'm doing right now."
Julie will be playing a number of Canadian dates in support of Goodnight Nobody.
September 16: Halifax NS, Hell's Kitchen (early show)
September 17: Sydney NS
September 18: Moncton NB, Player's Lounge
September 20: Montreal PQ, Sala Rosa
September 21: Guelph ON, Ebar
September 22: Hamilton ON, Kasbah
September 23: Toronto ON, The 360
September 24: Windsor ON
September 25: Ottawa ON, Zaphod's
September 26: London ON
September 30: Montreal ON, Casa del Popolo (Pop Montreal - Endearing Records)
For more information, please visit Julie's official web site at www.juliedoiron.com
Writer: Cameron Gordon