Music Profile | Julie Dorion and the Wrong Guys

It was 2011 and the Toronto neighborhood around Bloor and Ossington was in the middle of a golden age. “Every single musician in Toronto seemed to be living in the neighborhood,” says Eamon McGrath, prolific Edmonton born musician and one quarter of Julie and the Wrong Guys, the new musical project from Canadian treasure Julie Doiron, McGrath and Cancer Bats rhythm section Mike Peters and Jaye Schwarzer. “Everything was still affordable and everyone was still able to tour a bunch and put out records, it felt like how I’d imagine Greenwich Village was like in the 60s.” McGrath was working at the local bar, Saving Gigi, which as he puts it, “was in a real no man’s land, it was literally the only place you could go to meet other artists.” During his tenure at Saving Gigi, one of the artists McGrath was lucky to meet was new Torontonian Julie Doiron.  Doiron may have been new to Toronto but her reputation, a member of iconic east coast rockers Eric’s Trip as well as an established and Juno nominated singer/songwriter, proceeded her. “I was setting up this music festival and I was thinking to myself how I needed to get Julie involved somehow. That was the line in the sand that, I felt, would make other people want to play it. So, I’m walking down the street and twenty seconds after thinking this, I ran right into her, asked her and she agreed. It was complete serendipity.” Not only did Doiron get involved in the fest but she also had some shows of her own booked in which she needed a band. Through Eamon, Julie was connected with Mike and Jaye and the Wrong Guys were essentially formed. “Within a week we were jamming, all of Julie’s material, which was put together from a wish list of songs that we wanted to play. It was fucking awesome.” McGrath describes being in Toronto at this time as a real creative breeding ground for music and arts. “We are totally a product of that era. The Wrong Guys are an ongoing relic of a snapshot of Toronto that will never be repeated.”

Julie Dorion, from her home in Sackville, NB, remembers things pretty much the same way. “Because of the distance between all the band members we don’t get the opportunity to play often but the chemistry that we all had from that first time rehearsing is one of the things that has carried on.” Not only carried on to a series of Canadian tours but also the recent release of the Julie and The Wrong Guys debut album. “The four of us all bring really important parts to the band,” Doiron says, and even though the band has her name in it’s title, “It’s a full on democracy.” Writing the album in rural Manitoba at Mike’s families cabin on Red Rock Lake provided the opportunity for Doiron to be completely focused on the process. “Sometimes the guys would write some things and send them to me before we were out there but I was pretty hands off before Manitoba,” she explains, “I get busy with my daughter and I hadn’t really listened to anything until we were all together.” When asked if the impetus of the album was to delve back into a genre more heavy than her previous solo incarnations, Doiron shares, “I don’t think that was an effort on anyone’s parts. The songs really just came together in the writing process in Manitoba.”

Heavy is a way to describe the Wrong Guys album, for which they are touring across Canada promoting at the moment. The muscularity of the musicianship is prominent throughout the records ten tracks but the band never sacrifices hooks, melody and actual emotion for simple riffs. McGrath recalls how the inspired setting in which they wrote the album became a big part of the music. “It was real Group of Seven country, real deal Canadiana and even though we took the songs back to the city and recorded them there, we still kept it really raw. It was deliberate, we spent every single day analyzing parts of the songs and then taking them into the studio, we did the least amount of things to translate these songs as naturally as possible, to make it as real as possible. We tried to harness the energy of that wilderness environment and did it as quickly as possible to keep that feeling.”

In the promotional materials for the release, Doiron is quoted, “When I was putting myself into the songs, they were about figuring out who I am and what I need in my surroundings to feel whole. It was a bit more contemplative about finding my true nature and finding my way home, which is within. Who is Julie? Who’s in there?” So in the lead up to the album's release and subsequent tour, the question gets reposed to her. Did you learn anything new about yourself, about who Julie is? She pauses for a second and laughs, “I think so, definitely. I’m still learning,” she continues, “but I feel like I’m getting closer, creatively and just as a human.” Whatever take away was achieved for her personally and for the band as a whole, they are all very excited to have the album out and to take it on the road.  McGrath sees the experience as one that helps build them all as a unit but also individually as artists. “You’re in a van reading, listening to music or talking and the immediacy of the show that is looming makes you a part of the creation of that performance. To me that is what is do. The unpleasantness and the difficulty of touring go hand in hand with creating something beautiful.” Doiron, on the other hand relishes the fun and ease that playing in the Wrong Guys affords her. “Going out on the road is still exciting. I still love performing and being out on the road. With this band in particular everyone is fun and supportive,” she continues, with a chuckle, “and knows when I need to do yoga.”

Julie and The Wrong Guys are currenlty on tour.

Check them out this week:

Tonight, October 3rd, at The Flying Steamshovel in Rossland, BC.

October 5th, at The International Beer Haus in Red Deer, AB.

October 6th, at Palomino in Calgary, AB.

October 7th, at Up + Downtown Music Festival in Edmonton, AB.

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