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The Unstoppable Luke Doucet

By Archives January 29, 2008

Luke Doucet is a force of nature. More specifically, he is a jack-of-all-trades in the music biz. Doucet is a guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer and husband to Canadian singer-songwriter Melissa McClelland. With six albums under his belt, Doucet is back with number seven — his new release Blood’s Too Rich. Doucet set off on a cross country tour with Blue Rodeo the very day Blood’s Too Rich hit stores and nothing seems to hold him down. Not even a ruthless review or a broken bone.

You’re currently on tour with Blue Rodeo. How has that been so far?

I can’t say enough about this tour. Blue Rodeo is fantastic. It’s inspiring to watch them play every night. It’s so great, except I broke my thumb skiing!

How are you pulling off your show every night with a broken thumb?

My biggest concern was that I would not be able to continue the tour and would have to go home. That would be devastating. But I’m elated that I can actually play!

You’re touring in support of your new album Blood’s Too Rich. Tell us about the title of this conceptual record.

You can’t deny who you are and where you come from. Family is really important. The whole notion of blood as the cornerstone of your identity is what is being played on there. I also realized something when Melissa and I moved to Nashville last year. I didn’t realize I had my own variety of patriotism. Living in Nashville made me really want to be back in Canada and now we’re back.

Canada seems to be glad to have you. Your album has received great reviews, especially the song “Cleveland.” Did you anticipate that?

When you finish writing songs sometimes you get a feeling that something is good. You get an emotional high. I was pleased with the way it sounds. There was something about it. I just like the song. I don’t ever pretend to know what other people are going to think or feel. It’s one of the songs that I built the album around. I’m grateful that some people somewhere said good things about this song.

Of the numerous great reviews, someone somewhere put out one really rotten one. I assume you’ve read it. Did your ego take a bullet?

If you’re talking about what I think you are, it was a live review, one particularly crushing live review that came out of Calgary. The music people make is so subjective. If you’re a huge fan of Arcade Fire then you probably won’t be a fan of Neko Case. But then maybe you are. My point is that people have very different tastes and so I don’t mind if someone says, “Luke, I don’t like this record. It’s not my thing.” But when it comes to the band, specifically at that Blue Rodeo show, it offended me.

Are you over it?

Honestly, my feelings were hurt for half a day. I got over it. I took a shot at the newspaper in question from the stage and everybody laughed. It was over.

Do you always read your own reviews in the press?

When the first bunch of press came out, I read reviews to get a feeling for what the general consensus was going to be. I assumed incorrectly that everybody was going to agree or feel the same way about this record. Any seasoned artist will tell you “don’t ever read your own press.” If you’re going to get crushed because someone says you suck, then you’ll probably get really high on yourself when someone says you’re great. Neither one of those things should really dictate how you go about your work.

Speaking of your work, you’re more than a singer-songwriter. What drives you to sing, compose, play, and produce?

I have been a studio musician for awhile making a living by playing on people’s records and being a guitar player for people on the road like Sarah MacLachlan, Danny Michel and Chantal Kreviazuk. When you’re doing that job, and your job is to interpret someone else’s music the best way you can, you very quickly start thinking, “What can I do now that can make both the music and the vocals sound the best?” When you’re in that headspace for a couple of years, it’s almost inevitable that you will eventually become a producer of some sort.

What is it about producing that keeps you wanting more?

It’s a huge responsibility and I love that. It’s much more difficult than just playing on someone’s record. The buck stops at you. When people are not sure where to go, the producer, with confidence, is suppose to say, “Well, I know exactly what we’re supposed to do here to make this music better, trust me.” Musicians hire you for that very reason. I get a great sense of accomplishment through my work. I want to do this forever.

Luke Doucet warms up the stage for Blue Rodeo at le Thé