Julie and the Wrong Guys Find The Right Fit

After over a decade of her solo career, people might forget how gritty Julie Doiron once was in the 90's with Eric's Trip. After recruiting a crew of strong Canadian rockers for a backing band in 2011, Doiron dubbed her tour as Julie and the Wrong Guys. Fast forward, and members Eamon McGrath, as well as Mike Peters and Jaye Schwarzer of the Cancer Bats called Doiron up to work on material as equal voices. Releasing their self-titled debut this September, the band have a new life thanks to their newfound creative process. We caught up with Doiron ahead of her December 15 show at the 27 Club to talk about their strange evolution as a band, Doiron's return to distortion and why they wrote the album in a cabin.

Ottawa Life: Considering you've been known for mostly softer music for the last couple years how did this project move from a backing band to what it is now?

Julie Doiron: I think that everybody really likes playing together. When everyone was living in other cities, we still wanted to keep the band going because it was so much fun to do. Last year the guys just started writing an album while I wasn't necessarily writing much. They were writing a lot, and then next thing you know Mike calls me and says "We got a grant to make this record in Manitoba and we're doing it in October because neither of us are busy." We liked the idea of making an album together because it was so fun to play together. We wanted it to be collaborative too, as opposed to just me writing songs for them. They just like writing songs too, they're all song writers too, so it was an easy collaboration.

Was there an emotional release or a yearning for your Eric's Trip sound that drove you to this project or was there something else that you weren't getting on your own?

It's a bit of both, I like playing with these guys because I like to be loud and more energetic. It's not like I've been trying to do quiet music for 20 years. After Eric's Trip broke up I still wanted to make music that was loud, and I have toured with plenty of drummers and bass players. This project in particular is different because we're quite loud, and all the guys are great players. It's just a fun thing to do, and it's something I wanted to do more of anyways. A lot of times, I'm doing quiet solo music for budgetary reasons, so when you're doing a project like this everyone is invested in the same way, it's not hiring a band to do Julie songs. It's like Eric's Trip where everyone is an equal voice. I'm really lucky that all my friends just want to play my music, so I've been lucky all the time. This collaboration was different with all the equal parts in writing, organizing and jobs to do, I work the least in this band.

What did Mike's secluded cabin offer your writing that the city wouldn't?

Doing it at the cabin in Manitoba is part of what made it really special. It was a really dreamy time. I really needed to be taken out of my home and put in a secluded space where I can't be distracted. Like I said, those guys had been writing all along, and I hadn't really been writing since I was raising my youngest daughter. I was kind of in a dry-spell in terms of writing, I didn't know what I wanted to say and I didn't feel confident about saying it when I did. Taking us all out of our homes and putting us at this cabin on a lake meant that we were all together, working on it 100%. It was crucial to the making of the album and I would prefer to do it that way with these guys again. If I'm at home I will get distracted by the 1000 things I have to do before I make music. 

I heard "You Wanted What I Wanted" was where you felt solidified as a band, so what about the song made the band click where it hadn't before?

I don't know if there was ever really a moment where we weren't feeling sure, I think it always made sense to us. But I think with that song in particular it made it feel less like Julie Doiron song backed up by other people and more of a collaboration where we were a band.

On top of the sonic changes, what led you to write so introspectively on this album?

Part of it came from me getting older and wanted to feel comfortable with where I am. I was looking for that idea of home. Without going into too much detail, the overlying theme was figuring out who I really am, who I was and who I stopped being, my true nature.

How has your dynamic changed live with the band since you started writing together in this iteration of The Wrong Guys?

Interestingly the live dynamic has been the same, everyone was pretty energetic from the beginning. Jaye and Eamon have a strong presence on stage, and of course Mike too but Mike is on the drums and can't move around. That hasn't changed, although everyone feels a little more connected because we're all equal co-writers now. They were always excited to be a part of this project, so if anything  the idea of it being shared rather than just my songs. We really enjoy being with each other, it's a fun project for us so it's nice getting in a band and playing together. The songs are different so they might be more into it now though.

I heard you've written a couple songs on your own recently as well, so do you know what's next for you or are you just riding this project out for the time being?

In November I did a residency in Sackville at this pub called Thunder and Lightning, where every Sunday night I'd play a show at 6 p.m.. My goal was to write one or two new songs for every Sunday so I ended up with about five and a half songs. It was only three Sundays. I am working on new songs but I'm not sure what I'm going to end up doing with them. With this band though, we may end up doing some touring during the winter, but I'm not sure yet.  For now we're doing this, I know Cancer Bats are going in the studio for January, so they'll be busy. We may just squeeze things in so it's good it's not the only thing we're doing right now.