She just finished teaching yoga so there’s apparently a great deal of oxygen getting to Julie Doiron’s brain.
She’s chatty, happy and, probably, chakra centred.
But, that said, ask her what you’d assume would be the simplest of questions and her response is long, deliciously uncertain and hilariously short on details and facts.
Q: How exactly did her collaboration with Edmonton-born folk-punk vet Eamon McGrath and Cancer Bats members Mike Peters and Jaye Schwarzer — the quite supergroup dubbed Julie and The Wrong Guys — come to be?
A: “You know, I don’t even remember any more.”
Well, then a great deal about friends setting them all up together, them all sorta knowing one another, something about a gig they were offered, other members of the band relating a story that she doesn’t even remember, but ultimately, it’s a whole lotta verbal shrugs.
And ultimately, who really cares? It matters not. All we need to know is that the quartet came together about four years ago and are currently making their way across Canada with a brand new 7-inch single in tow.
The slice of vinyl, a taster for a forthcoming full-length and which features the song Homeless on the A side and Farther From You on the flip, is chunky, sludgy and heavy in a warm, melodic way — helped a great deal in that department by Doiron’s spectacular voice.
And although the origin story may be a little murky, the singer — who shot to indie rock fame as a member of ’90s act Eric’s Trip — says the formation was a natural one, and the reason she returns to the project is because of how effortless it actually is.
“It was super easy,” says Doiron from her home in Sackville, New Brunswick.
“It didn’t take much at all. They’re amazing musicians, but also on top of that they’re amazing people, so it’s actually a really, really, really positive environment to be in.
“Musically it’s really fun and really positive and just in terms of hanging out it’s super positive. For me it’s crucial — the more I can surround myself with people who are positive then the better that makes me as a person.”
That speaks to how centred Doiron, herself, actually is these days — in music, with her life.
She admits that she’s “content to be where I’m at” and that the project, which rolls into Calgary for a Saturday date at the Nite Owl, is “perfect for that.”
No hassle, no expectations, nothing but positivity.
All of those things are the reason she still makes music, despite an inclination several years ago to walk away from it all. Doiron actually admits that she’s never been too “career-driven” — never lazy or unmotivated, but also never one to pursue it over other opportunities that mattered more.
In fact, the mother of four kids — two that are of adult age and have left the nest as well as a 14 year-old — almost officially called it quits a few years years ago to pursue that fourth shot at parenting.
“I’ve been wanting another baby for a really long time,” she explains of the reason she stepped briefly back to have her now-three-year-old daughter. “And a lot of it has to do with the way my family life has gone throughout my musical career, with a lot of touring, and I did miss out on some stuff.
“So, I really, really, I really needed another baby in my life.”
But, well, you make someone a mom but you can’t take the music out of them. And try as she might to extricate herself from the biz, they kept dragging her back in.
“I really was going to stop everything,” she says. “And somehow opportunities kept presenting themselves
One of those opportunities is, of course, the teaming with the Wrong Guys, but Doiron is also a member of Weird Lines with partner C.L. McLaughlin, has done her own solo stuff, and has previously worked with Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen and Ottawa’s Wooden Stars, the latter project earning her a Juno.
The opportunities to make music, make meaningful music, she says, just keep happening despite her lack of seeking it out.
“I’m at this point in my life that I don’t actively instigate things or start things. But I have a lot of people I love working with, a lot of people that I want to work with and usually it eventually happens, when someone else instigates it.”
She laughs. “It’s not because I’m lazy. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s just because my mind is so busy right now …
“I’m just very lucky, like I have a really, really solid group of friends who are super talented. So I get to make music with those people.”
One of those is, of course, Gord Downie, who enlisted her talents for three of his solo projects as well as the Tragically Hip album Music @ Work. It is, Doiron says, a lasting friendship and one of mutual admiration and affection, the pair remaining in contact on a personal level while he endures his battle with terminal cancer.
“I love Gord very, very, very much,” she says simply.
“He’s a good friend and I think what he’s doing with (his recent album) Secret Path is an amazing project … I think all Canadians should be paying attention to the issue of residential schools. We should be spending a lot more time getting to know our history and our current affairs.
“I’ve learned so much from him: I’ve learned a lot about music, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a good person …
“I love him very much.”
Julie Doiron and The Wrong Guys perform Saturday at the Nite Owl. For details click here.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.ca, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on at Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at email@example.com. He likes beer. Buy him one.