There’s a sense of synchronicity about Alan Doyle releasing his latest solo release `A Week At The Warehouse’ at the same time he drops his latest autobiographic book titled `A Newfoundlander In Canada – Always Going Somewhere, Always Coming Home’.
Doyle’s third solo album reflects just how far musically he has developed since leaving Great Big Sea while his follow-up autobiography is a continuation of his initial best-selling memoir, `Where I Belong’ which chronicled growing up in the tiny Newfoundland of Petty Harbour prior to joining the band.
En route to Meaford Ontario where Doyle is set to perform at a book-signing event, he enthuses about his latest recording event which was recorded live off the floor with ace producer, Bob Rock at Bryan Adams’ Vancouver-based Warehouse Studios.
“I want people to hear what an Alan Doyle concert sounds like these days, where musically, my head is at,” noted Doyle. “My previous two records (`Boy On Bridge’ and `So Let’s Go’) represented different things at different times but with this one, I wanted to do a live off the floor record that would sound like a perfect Alan Doyle concert.”
To capture that live sound, Doyle had Bob Rock’s name at the top of his wish list. The former Payolas’ guitarist has earned elite status working with the likes of Aerosmith, Metallica, Motley Crue and The Tragically Hip and his grasp of recording bands live was ideal for this project.
“With Bob, I knew that his favourite thing to do is to put a band in a room and to record a bunch of musicians playing together,” Doyle enthused. “My policy is always to go into the recording process with a bunch of strong songs and let them live in whatever world they want to live in. I’ve always been the kind of fellow that likes to position a country song next to a celtic song next to a rock song, that’s all fine with me.”
Case in point is “Ready To Go” “a real rock burner, kind of like Jimmy Barnes getting together with INXS on “Good Times”,” enthused Doyle. “The kind of song that starts at 10 and goes to 10.5. I wanted the end result to sound like a motorbike commercial!”
Other songs on the 11-track release reflect Doyle’s expansion into up tempo country romps like “Come Out With Me”, “Summer Summer Nights” and “Bully Boys” which was featured as a sea shanty in the Robin Hood movie. Like his previous releases, many of the songs lyrical ideas are anchored in events and incidents Doyle encountered while growing up in Penny Harbour which were brilliantly articulated in his “Where I Belong” book.
“Summer Summer Nights is about going down to the beach, sneaking a few drinks and getting out the guitars to impress the girls,” reflected Doyle. “While “Something In A Song” is about my parents and their on going problem with running out of heating oil. When that happened, we’d always have a kitchen party because that was the warmest place left in the house.”
The album’s one cover is “Forever Light Will Shine”, a track originally written and recorded by Payolas’ Paul Hyde who joined Doyle in the studio to sing the song’s second verse. “I heard that song on his album, The Big Book Of Sad Songs Vol.1 , I really liked it and when we were playing a concert in Vancouver, we heard Paul was going to be in attendance so we performed it that night. He was so grateful that when we decided to record it, he came to the studio and we got him to join in the session.”
The fact Doyle could record that song and other tracks like “Ready To Go” are an indication that he made the right move in striking out from the traditional Maritime sounds of Great Big Sea. “My solo records are a bit more of an open book. I don’t need to be limited into what kind of world the songs might want to end up in, I can just make that world happen.”
Of course, Doyle is forever grateful to Sean McCann, Bob Hallett and Darrell Power whose handshake deal back in 1993 allowed Doyle to discover a country he was only aware about from watching Hockey Night In Canada on television while allowed him to record nine albums until they disbanded in 2013.
“I was a happy 20-year old Canadian aware that I didn’t know anything about Canada, ”I got a chance to see what Canada was really like. That’s the lens through which this book Is written. Discovering Canada through the window of a band van.”
The end result is a book filled with hilarious anecdotes of Doyle’s experiences leaving Newfoundland and discovering Canada for the first time. Opening for Barney The Dinosaur at the Grand Falls Salmon Festival, shattering beer sales records at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern, experiencing an on-stage streaker in Thunder Bay, encountering the Swedish women’s alpine ski team at Chateau Lake Louise are just a few of the memorable incidents documented in this book (his adventures on an Air Nova flight to St John’s is just too funny).
He talks about his parents being born in a country called Newfoundland and 20 years later being born in the same place but now it was called Canada. On reaching Vancouver and dangling his feet into the Pacific Ocean at Granville Island for the first time, Doyle called his brother Bernie back in Petty Harbour to report on his band’s progress across Canada. “I think we’re going to make it,” said Alan. “You already have,” responded brother Bernie.