JULIE DOIRON with PAPER MOON and AARON BOOTH at the Drake Underground (1150 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, February 16), 8 pm. $15. 416-531-5042, 1-866-372-5386.
It only takes about five minutes of watching MuchMoreMusic to realize that what constitutes normal behaviour for a rock star is anything but for the rest of us.
From Britney's joy ride with her baby on her lap to Courtney Love's never-ending child-rearing/drug problems, it's clear that when it comes to their shit, few stars can keep it together.
It can all be a little depressing, for sure, but spending just two minutes with Julie Doiron was enough to restore my faith. After the rise and fall of the much-lauded indie sweethearts Eric's Trip, Doiron went solo, adhering to her own rules and fiercely determined to keep her priorities in perfect order. That it's worked for her so well over the last decade is a testament not only to her fortitude, but to family ties as well.
After a six-year residence in Montreal, she moved back to New Brunswick. Not to further her career, mind you the days when the Maritimes were touted as the next Seattle are long gone. Doiron just figured it was the best place to raise her three kids. When we hook up via phone, that's where she is, in the small town of Sackville, playing mom instead of guitar.
"In some ways it's backwards, I know. It can be a real balancing act, but my roots are in New Brunswick, and I really wanted my kids to get the chance to know where their mom came from. Their grandparents live nearby, so the whole family bonding thing made it an easy decision."
She finds time to be creative and write new material, but touring is a completely different matter.
"You do what you can, which for me means a lot of weekend shows. I've been really lucky that so many Eric's Trip fans have stayed with me through the solo years, and with the newer fan base it means I can tour less often and still make a decent go of it.
"It may be odd to tour behind an album that isn't even coming out until September, but the reaction has been great. I just did a 45-day tour of Europe, which was tough because I couldn't bring my family, but the shows were a lot of fun."
Her new album is a band-oriented outing that rocks a lot harder than 2004's mostly acoustic Goodnight Nobody. Her old crony Rick White helped out, spending hours in the studio mixing up a storm, but at the Drake Doiron will be on her own.
"I'll be playing some of the new songs, but they'll sound a little different than on the album since it's just going to be me playing, which suits me fine. I like the intimacy it can offer, and besides, travelling across the country with a band can be troublesome.
"It's certainly not a problem back home, where I can get together with other musicians and just play. I play a lot with Shotgun Jimmie and Paul Henderson of Shotgun & Jaybird, which is fantastic.
"Sackville is a university town, and and because of its proximity to Moncton and Nova Scotia, a lot of bands come through, so there's always someone to see and somewhere to play."
Her idyllic lifestyle may be in jeopardy, however. Her painter husband, Jon Claytor, is feeling the urge to relocate to a more urban environment. It's not that he doesn't like small-town living, but putting on shows in a town of 5,000 doesn't allow him to reach as many people as he'd like.
"Yeah, sad but true. It's a lot easier for a musician, who can put out an album and have people hear it. When you're a painter, people need to see your work to appreciate it. I can be creative and write anywhere big city, small town, a bus or wherever.
"As far as my husband's concerned, I think he'd get more inspiration in a bigger city. We're tossing around the idea of New York, Toronto or even moving back to Montreal, which wasn't part of the plan, really.
"But you have to learn to make things work for everyone in the family. You've got to have your priorities straight, you know?"