Published Mar 28, 2009Eric's Trip was born of intense emotions, which have been articulated starkly in their music together and apart. Led by shy but visionary artist Rick White, the band came of age in indie rock's golden era, the early '90s, when DIY was still the domain of serious musicians determined to express themselves without compromise. White and creative/romantic partner Julie Doiron had a star-crossed love affair and collaborative union that produced powerfully intimate and influential music. Their alliance with like-minded souls Chris Thompson and Mark Gaudet made Eric's Trip one of the most dynamic, punk-infused rock bands ever, while also fostering some equally intriguing solo work. Thompson's new band the Memories Attack recently released their sophomore album, while White and Doiron worked together on I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day, Doiron's stunning new solo record, out this month. Reuniting on occasion but mostly tending to their own musical pursuits, the members of Eric's Trip quietly endured a soap opera for the ages before maturing into the gifted solo artists they are today.
1963 to 1988
Drummer Mark Gaudet is born on October 30, 1963 in Moncton, NB; Rick White (guitar, vocals) is born on December 5, 1970 in Moncton, NB; Chris Thompson (bass, guitar, drums, vocals) is born on July 4, 1971 in Ottawa, ON where his father worked in the armed services before re-locating his family to Moncton, NB when Thompson was about five years old; and Julie Elaine Doiron (guitar, bass, vocals) is born on June 28, 1972 in Moncton, NB. Doiron is interested in music at an early age. "I'd say my most direct influence was my grandmother. She wanted to be a singer and would sing all the time and she's who I learned how to harmonize from; and my mom too." Inspired by K-Tel records (Blondie, Olivia Newton-John, etc.) her father purchased for her, Doiron hears Joan Jett when she's ten years old. That same year, she teaches herself how to play music. "I played for a month solid on a really shitty guitar and then started taking piano lessons for about a year and a half. I practiced at the bar where my mom worked but then I started swimming six days a week so I stopped taking piano lessons." In her early teenaged years, she becomes a fan of the Smiths and the Cure, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. She becomes a lifeguard in high school but also takes up saxophone and rediscovers guitar, just as she becomes a fan of the Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine, and Sonic Youth. Her mother purchases Doiron a Yamaha acoustic guitar, and she takes lessons at 16 years old, before switching to classical guitar. White is also a keen music fan. "Even when I was really young I wanted to play drums," he recalls. "My parents weren't into music but they listened to the radio all the time, golden oldies stuff. I still listen to that because of that; I find it relaxing and meditative hearing the same songs over and over again. It's good for your unconscious to hear that kind of pop. My older sister was more of hippie and that's where I heard Crosby, Stills, and Nash and Simon & Garfunkel; that stuff stuck with me too."
Thompson cites Moncton station CKCW, as an early influence and recalls loving Neil Young. Gaudet's father is a jazz musician who inspires his son to take up music, though he gravitates more to the sounds of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Monkees. He forms his first band, Purple Knight (with Ray Leger) when he's 11 years old in 1974, which he now describes as "Robert Johnson for retards." Gaudet's first public performance occurs in 1976 with Exodus, and up to about 1983, he's affiliated with Moncton punk outfits Whore Moans, the Robins (who recently reformed), Death Camp, Dagda Mor (when he lives in Toronto for a spell), and No Explanation. Gaudet's pedigree makes him a father-figure in "Punkton" and his job at Sam the Record Man (which he retains throughout his tenure in Eric's Trip, even when it later becomes Frank's Music) enables him to feed fans imported records (Have Not Been the Same; The CanRock Renaissance, Barclay, Michael, Jack, Ian A.D., Schneider, Jason, ECW Press, 2001, p.504). A skateboarder, White gets his first guitar when he hits puberty and is into heavy metal and Iron Maiden. Though nothing really comes of the acquisition initially, he eventually plays in heavy bands like Bloodstain, T.C.I.B, (Have Not Been the Same, p.502) and at 16, a hardcore punk quartet called the Underdogs, which also features a young Michael Feuerstack (Snailhouse, the Wooden Stars) on lead vocals.
"We played a lot of parties around Moncton," White recalls. "My youth was all oldies, and metal was just an extreme that went along good with turning 13. Once that seemed phony to me, I started hearing the Dead Kennedys and Discharge and things that would blow my mind. It was so beyond metal and singing real stuff. So hardcore was just an extension of the metal. Then I dug deeper into the 60s for the heavy stuff."
In 1986, gifted musician Thompson plays drums in a band called Dang; out of Dang's ashes, Thompson and friends, including Ken Leblanc, form a surf-rock, Gruesomes-influenced band called Clarence and release the cassette, Songs to Roast Chestnuts By. Clarence and the Underdogs frequently play the same parties throughout 1987 and Thompson and White become fast friends; the two soon form a new band together called the Forest. "We listened to Brave New Waves a lot; that was pretty much our only source of music," White explains of his kinship with Thompson. "We heard the first Dinosaur single, or early Pixies stuff, and we'd tape it off the radio because the music made sense to us. The Forest was really influenced by Dinosaur. It was me and Chris [on drums] and Kenny Leblanc [on bass]. He was Julie's boyfriend all throughout high school and that's how I met her; 'my best friend's girl.'"
1989 to 1990
Eager to start a rock'n'roll band, Doiron hangs out with the Forest a lot and soon befriends White. "I was at the French high school and I either met him at a party or maybe just bowling; we used to go bowling all the time," she recalls. "I wanted an electric guitar and he said, 'Why don't you get one and we'll start a band.' Rick and I were playing together on acoustic guitars, learning any Neil Young song we could; we were really folky at this time, it was just the two of us and we had the exact same Yamaha acoustic guitars. He'd been doing music for quite a while in punk bands so it wasn't new to him." They form a folk duo called Emptiness Inside (a reference to a My Bloody Valentine song) and make a six-song cassette with a friend on violin. Doiron says the project was very short-lived, lasting maybe three months.
"I was in the Forest and Julie was always there," White says. "We made a mellow version of the band one day to record some songs where she would sing and I thought, 'What a neat, natural kind of harmony voice she had.' We started playing acoustic guitars more together and, when her and Ken broke up - because I was getting too into the picture with Julie - me and her played together for a whole winter and that's where we really learned to sing together. Before that, it was just screaming. Then we decided with Chris to make a more noisy band again but kinda keep that vocal thing." Beyond the music, White and Doiron have a blossoming romance that ignites great passion within them. "It was like a revelation," White says now. "When Julie and I really got to know each other, we really connected on a lot of levels and were together all the time. We both liked what this person we were falling in love with was doing; bringing things out of each other, learning to harmonize and play guitar chords."
White suggests that Doiron buy herself an electric guitar, which she does after graduating from high school. "I went to the Parlour, a secondhand shop in Moncton and I bought a fake Strat and a really cool Fazer VT Twin amp, which Mark now owns and then we started Eric's Trip."
With Doiron and White's romance staring him in the face and university beckoning, Leblanc leaves the Forest, and the remaining trio reconfigure their roles. "I didn't want to play drums anymore since I felt I was sucking big time," Thompson says self-consciously. "So Rick showed me a few notes on bass and it went from there. We needed a drummer so I showed my friend Ed Vaughan how to play drums very basically and he became our drummer. I'd known Ed since I was four years old and it just seemed natural to include him."
Comprised of friends, Eric's Trip (named by White, after a Sonic Youth song on Daydream Nation) began writing songs at a furious clip throughout 1990, practicing in their parents' basements and documenting their progress on four-track recording machines, initially borrowed from Moncton High School, on weekends. "Rick and Chris learned to use it pretty quickly and eventually we bought our own four-track," Doiron recalls. "We were into some lo-fi music and that's when we realized, 'Wow, you can just record with whatever you want and put it on vinyl.' That kind of opened everything up for us; the idea of trying to go to a studio with the music we made wouldn't have worked, so hearing Sebadoh and Superchunk and other college radio, we realized that we could do that too."
Before even playing one show, Eric's Trip make their self-titled, debut cassette. "Yeah, we recorded that in December 1990 after only being together for a few months," White says. "In the Underdogs, our drummer Dan Boudreau recorded everything and I just came to know that you just record shit, that it was fun to record. So we made this ten-song tape of our new band Eric's Trip and we liked the way it sounded. There was a local record store called Room 201 and we put some in there and people kept buying it."
According to Doiron, White developed his gritty recording aesthetic by trying to make Eric's Trip sound exactly like they did live, while making quieter fare sound just like it did in the bedroom. "We weren't trying to sound lo-fi; that's just the only equipment we had," she explains.
"It was just the accessibility," White agrees. "I've always enjoyed recording but we never had money much. I always thought it was part of the band; I like listening to a record knowing that band did it themselves. I always thought every band should record itself. That way, the first album would sound rough like it should, but everything would progress; the songs, the music, the recording, the artwork on the cover. I wish everyone would do their whole thing themselves."
Eric's Trip continues to work hard, practicing, writing, and recording songs, without playing a single show. A song called "Sickness" appears on Naked in the Marsh, a ten-inch compilation of Moncton bands and they begin recording their second cassette Catapillars; their sound is still a unique amalgam of emotionally fragile lyricism (spearheaded by the love-lost Doiron and White), and corrosive, distorted folk-punk energy. "Our first songs were probably naïve," Doiron admits. "You have to write a lot of beginner songs before you get to a point where you think you're writing good ones. I wouldn't say that my songs were particularly great but they were definitely about my feelings. I didn't know what else to write about so I just wrote about feeling alone in the world or scared. You have to keep in mind that Eric's Trip was just supposed to be for our basement. I didn't ever imagine doing a tour. We were just making cassettes for our friends and then happened to sell 300 copies of each of them at a local record store."
Eric's Trip play their first show in April of 1991, at a City of Moncton-sponsored event celebrating Earth Day. "It was in the lobby of City Hall and I remember taking our equipment in Ed's dad's pick-up truck," Thompsom says. "The amps fell over in the bed; that was scary. The show was pretty scary as well, for me anyhow. We did our noise bit at the end and I had this Rickenbacker bass. I was hitting it on the ground and some 'real' musicians were there freaking out, 'Why is he doing that to that Rickenbacker?!' I didn't hear about it until after but I thought that was pretty funny."
"Yeah, it was good," White says of their live debut. "I hurt my back skateboarding and hobbled in on a crutch. We played in this concrete and glass lobby and it was noisy. The other bands were kinda normal and they couldn't believe what people might see in us, but the kids came to see us and then they split. It was good for us to see that and know that we could play shows and people would come."
Even with work underway on the next cassette, Drowning, and the band playing well-attended local shows, things weren't gelling with Vaughan. "We were getting popular in Moncton but he didn't think of it seriously," White says. "He had this girlfriend and was hanging out with her so much and didn't show interest in the band anymore." After a year and half in Eric's Trip that produces three cassettes and about eight live performances, Ed Vaughan leaves the band in September. "He was kicked out," Thompson clarifies. "I think he didn't show up for a couple of practices and one time he showed up, only to leave five minutes later when his girlfriend showed up. I remember we had a show in Fredericton booked that I don't think he knew about, and the day of the show, Rick had me call Ed and tell him he was kicked out. That was horrible. Ed had been my best friend for years. He didn't speak to us for almost two years. We ended up playing that show as a three-piece with me on drums and Julie on bass." This formation of Eric's Trip lasted about eight weeks. Within months of the band's inception, White had invited Mark Gaudet to join Eric's Trip but he initially declined. Gaudet re-entered the picture in November, telling the band "I'll do a few gigs with you until you can get Marc Doucet [of locals, Thee Suddens] on drums," (Have Not Been the Same, p.504) while adding manic new power to Eric's Trip.
Fully inspired and prolific, White hits his stride in more of a leadership role in Eric's Trip. "In the beginning it was definitely something he and I talked about together but he was definitely the one doing all the artwork and he never sat around waiting for things to happen," Doiron says. "He was really proactive. If he was sitting at home until three or four in the morning, he'd make artwork, or t-shirt designs, or write songs and record them and show them to us. So, it was a natural thing that he'd become the bandleader but I don't think it was a conscious thing. It was an equal parts band though; he'd never say 'You play this or that.' He just sort of did things."
A unique visual artist who'd go on to design album covers for peers like the Sadies, White simply sees his paintings, sculptures, and photographs as another means of his overall expression. "I justify my day with 'What did I make?' Whether it's a song or a painting, I find it all comes from the same space, now days especially. I think you have to see it all as one."
After playing a few shows, Gaudet is convinced to join Eric's Trip permanently when their fourth cassette, Warm Girl, blows his mind. His live debut takes place at the Kacho at the Université de Moncton in January (Have Not Been the Same, p.504). Soon after, White recalls hearing about a guy in Fredericton named Peter Rowan who is now managing a Halifax band called Sloan. "We were watching City Limits on TV in 1990, and he had this label from Fredericton called DTK records and was about to do this Halifax release with Kearney Lake Road, which ended up having a couple of guys from Sloan. He'd brought them to Toronto and we saw them on TV and we thought, 'Fuck, he could maybe get a record made for us.' So we sent a tape to him in Fredericton but he'd moved to Halifax by then. The tape found its way to him and then it was dubbed a million times and spread around Halifax thanks to him and [Sloan's] Chris Murphy. He asked us to come down and do a show and got us a gig at the Flamingo on a Tuesday night. The bands there were kind of stuck in this dull thing and they were all there to see our show and we somehow managed to blow them away with noise and Mark's drumming and shit. Peter asked us to record in Halifax and we did our first single [a four-song seven-inch, entitled Belong] there. This was around March 1992."
"He kind of discovered us," Doiron says of Rowan. "He was very enthusiastic about underground rock and he became a good friend of the band and [later] started managing us and becoming part of our lives."
With record labels and the media embracing the abrasive sounds of Nirvana and a wave of underground Seattle artists, another coastal town receives inexplicable attention when Sloan signs to Geffen Records, drawing greater interest in Halifax from music fans and label reps.
"Halifax was the launching pad for music," Gaudet says. "I found that out when I first played there in '81. Moncton would rather tailor you for the corporate lifestyle show, whereas Halifax supports you for who you are and promotes you. It was nice to see that support was still there in '92 when Eric's Trip first played there.
Interestingly, Halifax is much more pop-oriented than the heavy Moncton scene, but bands like Sloan and Thrush Hermit adore Eric's Trip and other emerging Maritimes bands, who often find themselves associated with what comes to be known as 'the Halifax pop explosion.' "We got lumped in with it and press from around the world thought we were from there but it didn't hurt us in any way," Doiron says. "I was just glad we were from Moncton because Halifax bands all had a similar sound and I think we had our own sound."
"I used to go there to skateboard and go up Gottingen and it'd be really rough, but their music scene was very college and PC; all very safe and normal, whereas in Moncton there were always fights and it was outta control," White laughs. "But we got along with everybody, especially Peter Rowan, who eventually asked if he could manage us. Looking back now, he was just a big fan of music and wanted to help bands and it was perfect for us because he wasn't that serious."
Rowan and business partner Chip Sutherland begin managing Eric's Trip and plan to get an album out on Sloan's murderecords imprint. That summer, the band tour the East coast with Sloan and Toronto heroes Change of Heart. In August, Sub Pop's East coast A&R director Joyce Linehan contacts Rowan to say she'll be in town and wants to see some local talent; Rowan immediately arranges a showcase at the Double Deuce for Eric's Trip and an early version of Jale called Tag. Linehan offers Eric's Trip a record deal with Sub Pop but, in an unintentionally savvy move, they turn it down. "We weren't really looking for a label," Doiron says simply. "It was flattering and we were excited but the contract didn't make sense to us and wasn't that great; it was like a couple thousand dollars for a lot of records and we just felt like 'Why would we want to be under contract for this many records?'"
White cites the fact that they already agreed to release the Peter EP with murder as another factor but also suggests the band, not really seeing Sub Pop as a big deal, felt vaguely patriotic and didn't want to work with an American label. "I think it was mainly because we wanted to do everything ourselves," Thompson adds. "It was intimidating for sure."
Undaunted, Sub Pop invites Eric's Trip to play the Vermonstrous Festival in Vermont, where label founders Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt see the band for the first time.
"They finally saw us and liked it enough to pursue us again," Doiron recalls. "They gave us a better contract with more options and less obligations and we had full creative control and a little bit more money. They really wanted us to be happy and Jonathan and Bruce seemed like cool guys."
On the same trek, Sub Pop nets Eric's Trip an opening slot for Sonic Youth in Toronto; the show in October marks their first-ever appearance in Ontario. "I think we only played five songs," Thompson recalls. "It was very fast and chaotic but awesome. We asked Lee Ranaldo if it was okay to use Eric's Trip as our band name. I think we thought we might get sued or something. I seem to remember him being very flattered."
"When we were about to sign to Sub Pop, we wanted to change the name because we didn't want to reference ourselves to another band," White reveals. "When we first took the name, it wasn't even an ode to them; we went through all our favourite records to look for a name for some gig we were playing. So, it never really meant much early on, but then it grew with us and we created this fairy character and named it Eric. By the time we played with them, we even asked Lee Ranaldo if he minded and he said 'No, it's fine. You guys are good.' Once it was justified by him and we had a little story, we thought it was cool."
The band prepares to record the Peter EP, named for their friend Peter Holt, which is still due out on murderecords. The four-track recording made in White's basement contains seven gritty songs. Despite the band's creative and professional inroads, things are not completely rosy; Doiron and White break up for a couple of days around Christmas. She deals with her emotional state by making a cassette of solo songs and giving ten copies to friends as gifts. She calls the project Broken Girl.
The split between Doiron and White is short-lived; "We got back together around New Year's," Doiron says. "[That] was my big year for life changes. We broke up because we'd already been together for two-and-a-half years at that point and I think he was, y'know, interested in...I dunno! Any way, we broke up for a while and got back together and then Peter came out, we started touring, and our next Toronto show was packed - I think it was the Rivoli - because of that last Sonic Youth show. Everything was great and we were getting along really well."
Between January 14 and 16, Chicago-based engineer Bob Weston travels to Halifax to record songs by Sloan, Jale, Idée du Nord, and Eric's Trip for a Sup Pop East coast compilation EP called Never Mind the Molluscs that's released later in the year; Eric's Trip contribute "Blue Sky for Julie/Smother." They also donate "Understanding" to a comp called Raw Energy, which features emerging bands from all across Canada. When Peter is released in April, Eric's Trip earn their first real exposure beyond the Maritimes and receive positive reviews, though some criticize their raw recording style (Have Not Been the Same, p.506). Hot on its heels, Sub Pop releases a six-song CD EP in May called Songs About Chris and before the end of the year, the prolific band release two more EPs, Float/Trapped In New York (on Summershine Records) and Warm Girl (on Derivative). They begin working on their first album between April and June, which is inspired by Doiron and White's still rocky romance; White pursues his interest in Moncton musician and Orange Glass member, Tara S'Appart (aka Tara Landry).
"In June, I peeked at a page in his journal that I noticed was taped up and I was wondering why," Doiron recalls. "It was bad. I read one line and I grasped what it was and I got really upset. Then we had a big fight and he apologized for all the stuff and I was feeling really hurt."
"I'm not sure what happened but Tara was involved," White acknowledges. "We'd met earlier and she was always there and I got kinda stuck on her. Tara and I got sorta half-together and Julie never ever forgave me; we got back together after, but it was colder."
Doiron starts her own label, Sappy Records, ostensibly to provide more exposure for the music of friend Michael Feuerstack, under his moniker Snailhouse, but he never releases anything on Sappy. In July Sappy releases Julie and the Porthole to Dimentia, a seven-inch featuring one song by each member of Eric's Trip credited to "Stereo Mountain," which is the name of White's recording studio. Doiron makes her own EP and, at the suggestion of her friends in Jale, she makes her debut as a solo performer at the Double Deuce. "I put together a six-song set list after I'd just put out my first seven-inch as Broken Girl," Doiron recalls. "I was awkward but it was good experience to do it all by myself. I felt like maybe not all my songs were meant for Eric's Trip. Rick showed me how to four-track and I played all the instruments myself and it was really fun to make that first seven-inch. Broken Girl was just a name I picked, I don't know why. I felt sad."
As a label, Sappy stops and starts in various incarnations, not dissimilar from the state of Doiron's relationship with White. "We stayed together for another month and then we broke up at the end of a tour in Vancouver in August," Doiron recalls. "We broke up in the Rockies somewhere and had to drive all the way to Moncton, so we spent most of our time in the back of the van talking about it. Except when he was driving; then I spent my time in the back of the van just thinking about it."
Doiron and White somehow resolve to keep their relationship troubles out of the Eric's Trip dynamic, though Gaudet suggests theses episodes served as "subject matter for the rest of the existence of Eric's Trip." "We broke up, then we kinda kept hooking up, but we weren't a couple anymore," Doiron says. "We didn't tell anyone we broke up, so maybe that's why it didn't affect the band. I didn't want anyone to know because I just wanted to be alone. We'd seen it happen with our friends where they'd broken up and they'd get in another relationship right away and I didn't want that."
All the while, Eric's Trip work on songs for their full-length, Sub Pop debut, which White perversely titles Love Tara. "No, it made total sense," Doiron says of the name. "Rick seemed to think it was the perfect title; every boy in Moncton was into Tara at that time so I think he thought it was kind of clever."
Mixed by Bob Weston and released on November 9, Love Tara has a strong impact on critics and fans. Its heavy emotional content is delivered dynamically, and the album comes across like a moody, lo-fi mixtape with punk and folk elements mingling with tremendous immediacy. To this day, fans cling to Love Tara as a defining work from the East coast scene in the '90s and many call it Eric's Trip's masterpiece.
"That's when it happens when you don't try," White says of success. "That magical thing or creation of some sort where, we were at a pretty good state as a band but then all this drama came into it. For some reason, we were at the right age to capture it. I can never say how other people hear it but I see that in it; I hear the truth and our young emotions coming through."
"Julie and I were still basically together while we were making it; it was the between time, where I'd already done something but we were back together. It had a lot of lingering emotions on it. A lot of the songs were about everything that was tearing us apart."
"Like Julie's song 'Secret for Julie' really hit home. I still have Tara's copy of that record, where she scratched that song off of her record. It's kinda cool to see that copy because it's really intricately removed, all the way through. She scraped that one song off the record; it's pretty neat, like a piece of art."
With Love Tara doing well on college radio, Eric's Trip tour hard across Ontario and Quebec and, between Febraury 23 and March 1, they record a new EP called The Gordon Street Haunting, named after the street where White and Thompson live with the latter's girlfriend, sharing an apartment and making recordings. With Doiron in the background, White is now more public with his affection for S'Appart and, with fresh muses, even starts a new band with her on bass and Gaudet on drums. "It was so emotional but that's also where the dope smoking and stuff started going on," White says of the period. "That's also when Elevator [to Hell] was formed too, and around when I recorded "Parts 1-3." When you're just getting into pot and hash, all these ideas are just falling out of you; that's when the inspiration is just crazy."
Emotionally crushed and disinterested in White's drug scene, Doiron retreats to Ontario to visit old Moncton friends, Feuerstack and visual artist Jon Claytor, who each grew up close to White as well. Though she leaves her band-mates behind, nothing seems awry. "I really don't remember it affecting us that much," Thompson says. "I can't really remember. Julie wasn't around as much; she was heading off to Ottawa to visit friends and eventually started seeing Jon."
"She went away for a while and the next thing I knew I got a call in the middle of the night from Julie saying she was pregnant," White says, "That happened quick and that's when the band spread apart. I've always loved Julie and I still love Julie and she knows that; we're closer than ever right now but that hurt wrecked me more than even my being with Tara hurt her, y'know? I did it first, I hurt her first and that got me, but I always thought we'd get back together."
Shortly after Doiron's announcement, Eric's Trip convene to record their next album, Forever Again, between May 11 and May 29. "I'd say that was the hardest album that I had to be a part of and I'd say for Rick as well because that's where the saga continues," Doiron says. "Forever Again is more Rick's songs and more about our break-up, about him finding out about me being pregnant, about Jon, and us. That's when we both knew it was over between me and Rick, me being pregnant. So, I think Forever Again is just all about that situation. It's all pretty dramatic and Rick used that record to get it all off his chest."
"Love Tara is a great record but I prefer Forever Again," Thompson says, taking the opposite view for subjective, technical reasons. "Most of Love Tara was done at Rick's parents' house, while Forever Again was mostly done at our apartment. Rick and I worked on it together, which was really fun. Making Love Tara was also really fun but it was mostly Rick doing it if I recall correctly."
"It was just timing," Gaudet says, comparing the two records' impact. "Forever Again was recorded for me in much the same matter. It's just after their break-up, so the feeling at the time was going in the dark where with Love Tara it felt like we were heading towards light."
At the same time, drugs started playing more of a creative role in the work of White and Gaudet, who explore a new sound in Elevator to Hell. "I'd managed to stay straight-edge through all my hardcore band years and I only started smoking dope around '93," White recalls. "I never drank; I've still never been drunk but I got too into the smoking. I've never wanted to be outta it; I'd smoke something to get high and inspired. I was never into taking heavy drugs. I was just getting into creating things and I still think that's the most emotional record though, Forever Again, in a way. When Julie got pregnant, the emotions started hitting me a lot heavier. The music changed too; we stopped listening to our peers. We smoked dope and listened to Beatles, Electric Prunes, and Love records; that's when all that stuff hit us. The acid hadn't started yet; by the next year we started doing that a lot more."
Halifax indie-rock label Cinnamon Toast Records releases a seven-inch with the band covering Sloan's "Laying Blame" on one side, and Sloan returning the favour by creating an Eric's Trip medley out of "Stove/Smother"; the latter gets much more attention when Sloan contributes the track to the popular, star-studded DGC Rarities Vol. 1, which is released on July 5. After releasing an EP called Odd-ditties a year earlier, the quiet Thompson begins to emerge as a songwriter, adopting the moniker Moonsocket. "I was learning how to record and write songs basically," he says. "I didn't really think any of those songs I did fit well or were good enough for Eric's Trip. It was always great when Rick heard one of my Moonsocket songs and thought the band should record it. I never really had any confidence to show them my songs. I'm a very shy and not confident person. I'm working on it though."
In preparation for the September 26 release of Forever Again, Eric's Trip mark the end of an era, making a video for the song "View Master" with filmmaker and friend Laura Borealis, on their last day in the Gordon Street apartment. The video gains regular rotation on MuchMusic and critics and fans alike greet the raw, emotional Forever Again with open arms and a better understanding of Eric's Trip unfiltered, intimate aesthetic. With her first child Ben due that December (and born on Christmas Eve), Doiron marries Jon Claytor in October, leaving Eric's Trip as it is known, somewhat quiet. "Chris and I went on a tour to do some acoustic shows to support the record," White recalls. "We did The Wedge on MuchMusic and that was hilarious because we were baked or something and the bridge had come off a guitar right when she said to start playing. It's hilarious to watch because it's out of tune and we can't stop giggling and laughing."
With mainstream media outlets clamouring after independent musicians, Eric's Trip take each interview request thrust at them in stride. "Everything just happened to us and we didn't pursue anything," Doiron explains. "We didn't sit around waiting for anything; we worked really hard and practiced a lot, made a lot of recordings, but we weren't really looking for anything. Every time these opportunities came up we just thought 'Wow, let's try that.'"
For his part, White begins to feel claustrophobic in his core band and pursues Elevator to Hell more, releasing an LP in February. "In December of '94, I gave an Elevator demo to Sub Pop and they wanted to put it out, which shocked me. It came out and did well and that's when the notion got in my head that maybe I didn't need to do Eric's Trip anymore. We were really tight as a band at that point but that's when it got kind of indulgent for me, like going through the motions. It didn't have that chaos we had in '93, when people would see us and there'd be that noise." Sappy releases the next Elevator to Hell seven-inch, Forward to Snow, in April but with Eric's Trip not really touring much that spring, communication between Doiron and White is limited.
In a somewhat courageous and certainly supportive move, Gordon Downie and the Tragically Hip invite a host of Canadian independent bands they love to join them on their national Another Roadside Attraction tour. To their surprise, Eric's Trip is on the list of invitees to play the highest-profile shows of their career.
"It was like our 15 minutes were starting," Gaudet says now. "Acceptance like that is rare, so I felt extremely fortunate."
"Another Roadside Attraction was odd in a way because it was the only time we had a bus," White recalls. "We took the whole money we made off that tour and put it into renting the bus to keep up with the tour, but it was neat. We had to play at like two in the afternoon and we were only really there because Gord Downie wanted to watch us play! He might've been the only person who wanted us on the tour but they were all so nice and great to us the whole time."
"We played second after the Inbreds," Thompson says. "Not a lot of people had showed up to the festival at that point. There were people there to see us though and the ones that weren't seemed to have a good time."
Though she has fun playing the shows and meeting and befriending the Inbreds, Doiron finds it difficult being on the road. "My son Ben was six months old when we did that tour and that was the first time I left him home; I thought that was really hard. But all that time, Rick and I got along really great and were pretty understanding toward each other and still cared for each other. That's why we didn't want to break up the band, we're still very good friends."
Doiron releases Nora (named after her 1987 Honda Civic, in which she will tour across Canada), another Sappy Records seven-inch under the moniker Broken Girl, and Eric's Trip pop up on two compilations: "Evie" appears on Sonic Unyon's Not If I Smell You First, while "If You Don't Want Me" is featured on the Teenage Zit Rock Angst compilation spearheaded by weirdo, Vancouver music journalist Nardwuar the Human Serviette. In August, Sonic Unyon also releases The Road South, a new three-song seven-inch. Usually cagey about new material, Eric's Trip play new songs like "Spaceship Opening" and "Universe" live, while touring behind Forever Again. As break-up rumours persist, the band begins to see their next album as their finale. "I was doing more solo shows, Chris was working on his own Moonsocket stuff, Rick had Elevator going and wanted to pursue it more with Tara, so we all saw it coming and decided that we should end it before it became a bad band," Doiron explains. We had all these great songs and Sub Pop wanted us to record in a real studio in Moncton with Bob Weston, on a two-inch, 24-track board."
Even as the band splinter apart, the September sessions for Purple Blue mark the only record where Eric's Trip are all playing together at once, rather than White piecing their individual parts together, as he'd done for their previous albums. Yet despite the use of a "real" studio and Weston engineering, the record retains the band's penchant for hissy, noisy musical explorations.
"The deal we made with Sub Pop was that they'd release it in January of '96, and we'd do a couple of tours," Doiron says. "We agreed and there was a three-week American tour planned in May, and a three-week tour in Canada, and we all knew we were gonna break up after that. Rick had other ideas for Elevator and we were all going in different directions. You can hear that on Purple Blue; it's such a different album than Love Tara and that evolution happened in such a short time. We all kinda agreed that the band wasn't what we wanted it to be anymore maybe? And I had a young baby and wasn't able to hang out and practice. It was changing, we weren't young kids anymore; it just made sense for us to break up."
In the midst of all this, White and S'Appart get married in October. "I was far out by then, just doing whatever," White admits. "I was quite high at my wedding actually. It was quite surreal. We thought it'd be romantic and something to do and it was; it was fun."
Purple Blue is released on January 16 and, while the album is strong, the members of Eric's Trip are primarily consumed with their own individual projects, each of which appear on a cassette compilation White curates called The Starioscopic Scary Show: An Audiological View of Moncton that March, while Sub Pop works with Doiron, releasing her first solo album, Broken Girl, in April.
In Chart magazine's "Top 50 Canadian Albums of All Time" polls, Love Tara ranks 35th; it slides down to #37 in a similar poll in 2000. On May 14, the Tragically Hip release an album called Trouble at the Henhouse; on the song "Put it Off," Gord Downie name-checks the band, singing, "I played Love Tara by Eric's Trip/on the day that you were born." That same month, as they promised Sub Pop they would, Eric's Trip gear up for what they know is their farewell tour. Things go well until White suddenly announces that he's going home.
"What wasn't supposed to happen was us breaking up in the middle of the tour," Doiron says. "We were supposed to finish those two tours. That's basically when that band ended. I felt really upset about that. We were already far from home and the shows were amazing, most of them were selling out. It was crazy! Imagine a real American tour! You would die for that now. A band touring the States these days, unless they get 'Pitchfork success,' you have tour the States so many times before you even get 50 people at your shows. We were playing venues we'd heard of and playing so well. I felt like it was a really good tour and I understood why Rick wanted to go home and why there was frustration among the members because we were only making $100 a night. We had guarantees and no one was expecting them to sell out so it was psychologically hard on the guys. I dunno who was getting the money but it wasn't us. So, it was a long drive home from New Jersey."
White attributes the episode to what he now describes as a mental condition. "I've always had anxiety feelings that are outta control but I refuse to take drugs for them," he says. "I've always had a type of dementia and some of the drugs, like acid and stuff, were starting to make me extra sensitive, travelling especially. I hated travelling in the States; I've had bad vibes about [it] for a long time. I was with Tara and we had an apartment together and I didn't want to leave. Julie had left me mentally by then, the band seemed like a job we were doing.
"We were supposed to play in Washington D.C. and someone told us it was in a spooky neighbourhood. I just had a panic about it and just blurted out, 'I'm going home.' Julie got pretty mad at me then and, when the band broke up, she and I didn't see much of each other for years."
Thompson believes that White was upset because he and Doiron had moved out of Moncton with their respective partners, while White and Gaudet remained in Moncton; it's a theory that White now substantiates.
"I felt like that they had all left me," White says. "Chris had moved to Fredericton or Halifax and Julie was living in another city and we were all separated. This band formed because we were all such close buddies and Julie and I were this magic duo that were creating these neat things and it all washed away and got blurry. I was really enjoying this Elevator thing with Tara and Mark; it was like a family again. It looked so much better to me. Sub Pop was really getting behind Purple Blue and I just put a wedge in everything they said."
Eric's Trip play a final farewell show in Moncton with Sloan opening. Though Doiron, Gaudet, and White resigned themselves to the band's fate, Thompson found it difficult to believe Eric's Trip was no more. "I was pretty devastated when we broke up," he says. "I knew it was coming but it was still shocking. My wife and I were expecting our daughter and I didn't have a job and wasn't sure what to do. I think I became sort of unhinged for a while. To a certain extent I still am. I'm not a confident person so trying to do music on my own is a huge struggle. Being in Eric's Trip was great. I didn't have to write a whole record worth of my own songs and had the band as a sort of cheerleader when I thought my songs weren't that good."
In spite of Thompson's insecurity, the year sees him put out another Moonsocket LP, entitled The Best Thing, which is the 12th release on Sappy Records. Each individual Eric's Trip project shows up on the Squirtgun Records comp, More of Our Stupid Noise, though none is as strange as Gaudet's Purple Knight art-piece, "Fireball 500." Sub Pop gathers three lo-fi Elevator to Hell masterpieces on one CD, which they release in August as "Parts 1-3." The band also put out a Sappy seven-inch called Backwards May that September, in time to tour college campuses and bars with Sloan. "As soon as Eric's Trip ended in May, Elevator had been playing shows and I'd already called up Sloan and we had an opening slot for them," White recalls. "I was so used to touring and playing shows so we were touring right away and Elevator toured a lot, thinking we'd have the same fans as Eric's Trip but we realized we didn't; we had to start over and build it back up."
1997 to 1999
Elevator to Hell continue down their drug-fuelled psychedelic path, touring constantly and putting out music at a startling rate on various labels. Much to Sub Pop's chagrin, White constantly varies the band's name; in various phases, they're called Elevator Through Hell, Elevator Through, and finally by 1999, Elevator. "I never treat a band like a business," White explains. "I treat them like an art project. So Elevator to Hell made sense for the first few records but then we saw it as doom-y and we wanted to go through it and past it." Sub Pop releases the trippy, Eerieconsiliation on September 9, 1997.
Beyond tending to her budding family (besides Ben, daughters Charlotte and Rosie are born in the ensuing years), Doiron splits her time between Sackville, NB and Montreal, maintaining a fruitful solo career; Sub Pop puts out the gentle, well-received Loneliest in the Morning in September. Mike Feuerstack is in a new Ottawa band called the Wooden Stars and Sappy releases their acclaimed album Mardi Gras and Doiron tours with them. In early October, Sappy and Sonic Unyon release Long Days Ride 'Till Tomorrow, a compilation of rare and unreleased Eric's Trip material gathered and overseen by White. Even with her husband Jon's assistance, Doiron begins to feel that running Sappy Records requires too much of her time.
White makes a fateful connection with Dallas Good of the Sadies. "In '97 or '98, he came out to an Elevator show and talked to us," White remembers. "He knew we were into some old '60s psych and he knew a lot about records. We looked alike at the time and we kind of felt like brothers right away." That same winter, White endeavours to make an art film called The Such starring various landmarks in Moncton; he uses unorthodox techniques to create the film and it screens at art galleries; murderecords releases the film's soundtrack in May 1998.
Within this experimental bent, White re-visits Perplexis, a sporadic project involving the use of Casio or Yamaha porta sound keyboards to create songs. "I have lots of tapes like this starting in 1990 but the Perplexis name was started in 1998. It's usually kind of improvised and each project has a number, like Perplexis #1." White recalls part three occurring at an Elevator show where he and Tara improvised music with an analog synth and tape loops. "The only one to ever be released was called Perplexis #7 and came out in early 2002 on CD-R through my Great Beyond Recordings label. About a hundred sold. It's quite a bit far out and some fans who bought it didn't really get it, I've heard, but some have really dug it. Anyhow, Perplexis is just a name for that kind of stuff."
An avid photographer, Doiron has a book of her photographs, entitled The Longest Winter, with words by Ottawa writer Ian Roy, published in August 1998. Doiron contemplates making a record with a band, and her then-record label urges her to consider her friends in the Wooden Stars for the job. "It's a little known fact that Sub Pop was really trying to sign the Wooden Stars," Doiron reveals. "They wanted them to record in Detroit and they wanted to record in Toronto or Ottawa or something so they never ended up signing. Joyce [Linehan] really liked them and when Loneliest in the Morning came out, they wanted me to put together a band for the tour. She said 'What about the Wooden Stars?' And I was like, 'What do you mean? They're pretty different.' I thought they were an awesome band but at that point, I thought it would never work."
"Meanwhile, I did a Sappy tour with them because we put out Mardi Gras; it was me playing solo and them playing their own set. During that tour, because Joyce had already suggested them, I was thinking about it more seriously because I was seeing them play every night. At one point at Call the Office [in London], the Wooden Stars backed me up on a couple of songs spontaneously and it did sound really good."
Doiron speaks to Feuerstack about a three-piece band configuration; he responds that all the Wooden Stars want to take part and Doiron accepts the idea.
"We toured together in the States and Canada for like two years, off and on, and then I started writing a lot of songs right after that," Doiron recalls. "We didn't do too much together for another year but everybody heard my demos and that's when we made Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars; we recorded that in December of '98 into January '99. We were in the studio on New Year's Eve." White and all of Elevator contribute much to Joel Plaskett's blindingly great, underground solo masterwork, In Need of Medical Attention; White helps the former Thrush Hermit singer with the recording and the band play on various songs. After a few more compilation appearances, Elevator release their final record on Sub Pop, Vague Premonition in April; they'll briefly align themselves with Toronto's Teenage USA Recordings but White also launches his archival CD-R label, Great Beyond with a live Elevator record in June. Dallas Good joins the band as a second touring guitarist.
After the Will You Still Love Me? EP is split-released by Sappy and Tree Records, Julie Doiron and The Wooden Stars gets the same treatment in September, receiving rave reviews from critics and indie rock fans. The record marks Doiron's first recording with a band since the demise of Eric's Trip.
2000 to 2001
In January, Doiron receives a call from Gord Downie, asking if she's interested in doing some vocals for the Tragically Hip's forthcoming album Music @ Work. "That was really fun and I felt really grateful for being invited to do that," she says. "They got me to do that just to see what it would sound like. That was an honour and then, after that, he said he was recording this solo album and he really wanted to get me to sing on that. I only had a day in the studio so I only ended up singing on one song and playing piano on another. Then I had to go back on tour."
Downie studs 2001's Coke Machine Glow with Canadian underground music stars, employing the Dinner is Ruined and Doiron as primary contributors; along with Josh Finlayson, the live band is named "The Country of Miracles" and Doiron is an active participant. "I was really nervous because I'd never been a studio musician," she recalls. "I don't really practice, which is a fault of mine, but I knew that I could do it and that I needed to try my best. It was a wonderful opportunity to be in a band where I didn't have the pressure of playing my own songs; it was really nice to back someone else up. Touring with Gord and being in a band was really awesome; he just wanted everybody to do exactly what they wanted to do and he picked people he trusted."
The same group will reconvene for Downie's acclaimed, 2003 follow-up, The Battle of the Nudes. Doiron isn't certain if Downie has further plans for this configuration. "I don't know; I've been meaning to get in touch with him. I would love to play with those guys again; playing with them was really great. There was a lot of 'How did I get here, playing in front of 10,000 people at the Edmonton Folk Fest?' I was switching instruments and it was just so fun."
Further lifting Doiron's profile, Julie Doiron and The Wooden Stars wins the 2000 Juno Award for "Alternative Album of the Year." "Yeah, it kind of surprised everybody in Canadian music and it was exciting," Doiron remembers. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to be there to accept it but [Wooden Star] Josh [Latour] was and apparently... had a good time." Doiron also contributes vocals to the Snailhouse release The Opposite is Also True.
Elevator release A Taste of Complete Perspective on Teenage USA in September. White is in something of a fog and his rather open relationship with S'Appart is slipping away. The two own a house, a car, and a dog in Moncton but run out of money and, at her urging move to Toronto so she can find work; they settle into a spare room with Dallas Good in November 2000.
"I was into acid and my brain dementia was outta control," White admits. "That period was pretty abstract; my head's still not the clearest putting it together. My mind works, it's just hard to do normal stuff like travel and work and shit." White's friendship with Good is a saving grace and source of inspiration. "We made this cover band called the Brown Wow where him and [his brother] Travis played guitar, Greg Tymoshenko played bass, and I played drums,' White says. "We played a few shows and parties and things, and then we had the idea to make a folk-rock band. When Dallas played with Elevator, he was a good complement to my playing because he plays like an organ player on guitar - really dreamy. Dallas and I are like-minded souls."
In August 2001, Doiron releases a Francophone album entitled Désormais, her first through a split label arrangement with Winnipeg's Endearing Records and Indiana's Jagjaguwar; the partnership continues to this day.
Seemingly out of nowhere, rumours begin to surface that Eric's Trip are plotting a reunion tour; the rumours soon become fact when summer dates are announced. "I dunno, that was just a call me and Julie had on the phone," White says offhandedly. "We almost didn't do it because we thought we were just doing it because we were all broke. That's how it started; we were all really desperate. But as we started talking more, we felt like 'Why did we break up?' It seemed like enough time had gone by, although Julie still wasn't right with me; she held her grudge with me for quite a while. Once we got on that tour, we gelled again as friends. I hurt myself skateboarding on that tour and she was really motherly to me; there were all these neat things on that tour that kinda fixed any crap that had happened. Ever since 2001, we've been a lot closer."
Doiron views the excursion as less inexplicable, suggesting White desired some kind of closure. "Rick had always felt bad about breaking up on tour; he referred to it as 'The Lost Last Tour' or something like that. I think he wanted to see that through. It was a three-week tour and that was really fun. Five years had gone by and we'd all done a lot of stuff; I had done a lot more touring, made records, and was much more confident."
Doiron admits that her bravado was mixed with real insecurity about what she might lose by revisiting her past. "I was really hesitant and was the last one to say 'yes' I believe," she says. "Part of that was because I'd worked so hard at being recognized as Julie Doiron and not 'Julie from Eric's Trip.' I was finally getting fans discovering me who'd never heard of Eric's Trip and I was afraid that by doing this tour, all of that would fall apart. Even though I really wanted to play with them, I was scared that all that work would go unrewarded. But I said yes, and it made everything better. It was really fun to do those shows, we played really well, it was great to hang out with those guys, and I didn't lose those fans. Now, it seems like everything's tied together; I've established myself and am proud to be in Eric's Trip and am embracing it all. But, at the time, I needed to separate myself but now it all benefits each other."
The Eric's Trip tour is enjoyed by all but viewed as a one-off affair; Teenage USA releases a CD of live recordings from 1991 to 1996, entitled The Eric's Trip Show. White and Doiron each have a small role in the Laura Borealis film All She Wants, which is released in October. White continues to tend to his Great Beyond label, selling CD-Rs of rare and unreleased Elevator and Eric's Trip material at Toronto record store, Rotate This, including a revealing Elevator record called Lost During Headquake. White designs artwork for the Sadies' record Tremendous Efforts and creates eye-catching illustrations for the band's bass drum skin.
2002 to 2003
Gaudet surfaces with a couple of mysterious new bands: Men, which he suggests is a "comment on the human race," and Funeral Fog, a band he describes as being "closest to a heart attack." By the Sadies next record, Stories Often Told, White is also contributing original compositions to the band's catalogue.
"They're always low on lyrics and shit so that's how I got to writing songs for the Sadies," White says. "Every time they make a record they're like, 'Got any demos?' The last few records, I've actually got a few songs on each record. They like my songs and like playing with me so it's an easy way for them to get a little more material. They're great players but they write a little slow. They write good but don't have as much stuff lying around. It's a hobby for me; every day something comes out and I put stuff in 'Unintended/Sadies' or 'Elevator' piles."
Doiron continues to garner praise for her solo work, much of which is drawn from her experiences as a mother and wife, and April sees the release of another full-length, Heart and Crime. Good makes his recorded debut with Elevator on Darkness → Light. White and S'Appart's relationship is becoming increasingly dysfunctional as he withdraws further into his own psyche. In 2003, White and Good explore the folk-rock concept they first conjured during the Brown Wow. Though he primarily lives in the country, Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor also keeps a room in the same complex that Good and White occupy in Toronto. Inspired by the music of Gordon Lightfoot, White hatches a new band with Keelor and the Sadies.
"Once a week or so he'd show up and hang out," White says of Keelor. "I was just writing a lot with them in mind, that finger-picking, flat-picking style they could play in."
In short order, the Unintended are born and create a gorgeously haunting, eponymous psych-folk masterpiece at Keelor's country home; the results are revealed on Blue Fog Records (a label run by new close friend/Rotate This manager Brian Taylor) in 2004. "It was really just Dallas and me talking and it just fell together," White says. "It didn't become a band until we made that record that weekend."
2004 to 2005
Despite the accomplishments of the Unintended, White's life is still fraught with tension and he and S'Appart finally separate in 2004. "She got really into drinking and I got too into acid and we were on completely different wavelengths," White admits. "I went numb and she went and lived her life. I was unhappy living in Toronto for three years; they were dark years.
"A Taste of Complete Perspective is a record I'm really proud of in terms of my art," White continues, pondering the arc of his work at that time. "It's my psychedelic masterpiece but after the move [from Moncton], that's when the blackness crept in and Lost During Headquake and Darkness → Light are kinda spooky records for me to listen to."
Adding to the loss, Elevator create a record called August and then cease playing together; the strife between White and S'Appart is apparently not exclusive. "Elevator always said we'd never break up but Mark and Tara started fighting at the end there," White says wearily. "That's another aspect that's kept me away from doing it. They get along better now I think, though they haven't seen each other for a while. They're very conflicting and I always felt like the bridge between the two, altering what one said to the other. I always want people to get a long and mellow out."
After a sabbatical in Moncton, White relocates to an area near Orangeville, Ontario, living with Blue Fog's Brian Taylor in an old schoolhouse, where White builds a recording studio. In the spring of 2005, a fragile, hermit-like White releases his first solo record, which is simply titled TheRickWhiteAlbum. "I find that the Unintended record, August, and my first record are kind of a trilogy; I did a death and re-birth thing for myself," White explains. "That documents it all pretty good. The Unintended is like the dying and the death, August is sort of like awake almost, and then my first RickWhiteAlbum is the real awakening in the spring. Once Tara and I broke up, I just went back to my parents' house for the winter and stayed in their basement until the spring of 2004 and kind of re-birthed myself."
A notable bright spot occurs in the summer of 2005. For their June/July music issue, popular, American subcultural literature magazine The Believer solicits cover songs by artists like the Decemberists, Spoon, the Shins, and the Mountain Goats; Toronto's Constantines are among the participants and pay tribute to Elevator to Hell with a version of "Why I Didn't Like August 93."
Doiron is as prolific as ever, releasing a split record with celebrated Austin, Texas-based alt-country group, Okkervil River in 2003. Her 2004 solo effort, Goodnight Nobody is a sadly compelling affair, revealing a courageous performer in pain. Though devoted to her children, Doiron's marriage to Jon Claytor is under strain and she spends time in Sackville playing with local musicians. Doiron befriends Paul Henderson, Fred Squire, and Shotgun Jimmie Kilpatrick, who play in a band called Shotgun & Jaybird and they begin collaborating.
"I was pretty nervous about playing bass in Shotgun & Jaybird and it took me a while to get around to doing that, but when I did, it was eye-opening," Doiron says. "I wasn't being hired to be in a band; it was like getting together with people in my town who I didn't know very well at the time but we quickly became friends and it was really fun. I was very happy that they asked me to rock out with them and I asked them to be back me up and then I started playing bass with them."
In late August, Doiron contacts White about working on her next record, Woke Myself Up, which she hopes will possess more of a band feel; surprisingly, she suggests that Gaudet and Thompson be brought in for the project as well.
"Me and Julie wanted to work together again and it was her idea to get Chris and Mark involved and it was a neat project to do," White says. "I play on most if it and they play on three songs. We weren't even all together doing it but it was neat because they were the first recordings of us together."
The majority of what will become Doiron's most critically-acclaimed solo album, Woke Myself Up, is recorded at White's home studio but he and Doiron travel to Moncton to record Gaudet and Thompson's parts.
"I think she had fun playing with us on tour and wanted to try a different sort of sound for her new record," Thompson says. "I think she asked me to do it quite a long time before we actually did finally get together. I didn't even see Mark; he had done drum tracks the day or two before. I learned the songs by listening to demos and playing them with Julie and Rick once at Rick's parents'. It was fun recording with them again; I miss those guys."
Doiron collaborates with eccentric French pop duo, Herman Düne. At the same time, Doiron and Shotgun & Jaybird band mate Fred Squire become romantically involved; after 11 years of marriage, she and Jon Claytor separate in September 2005.
2006 to 2007
In early 2006, the Unintended resurface for the first and, thus far, only time since the release of their first album. The occasion is a split LP for Blue Fog with Constantines; they record four songs by Gordon Lightfoot, while Constantines do the same with Neil Young. "They're mostly from The Way I Feel album," White says of his Lightfoot choices. "When I got into that album, it was a revelation. I haven't done anything with the Unintended in a while but we have five or six songs just waiting to be recorded."
Though he leaves Shotgun & Jaybird after playing drums on the 2006 EP, There Are Days and Then There Are Days, and that same year's full-length, Trying to Get Somewhere, Paul Henderson talks about starting a label and inspires Doiron and Claytor to resurrect Sappy Records for its "third incarnation." Henderson takes on a key role in handling the label's affairs. The trio decides to throw a large summer party in Sackville on the Civic Holiday long weekend in August to celebrate the label's return and the now annual Sappyfest is born; the 2006 edition features performances by old and new friends, including Chad VanGaalen, Snailhouse, Alden Penner, Baby Eagle, S.S. Cardiacs, Old Man Luedecke, Al Tuck, the Just Barelys, Rock Plaza Central, Yellow Jacket Avenger, and many, many more. Doiron and White each perform solo, as do Moonsocket, Purple Knight, and the Robins. In a headline-making surprise, Eric's Trip reunite to headline the three-day event. "Sappy already had a name so we did it all together and put out Shotgun & Jaybird records," Doiron explains. "We wanted to celebrate the third incarnation, which is why we started Sappyfest, and we tried to plan something big for it. So, I talked to the guys to see if Eric's Trip would play and that was the first show in this incarnation of Eric's Trip."
White and Dallas Good participate in a tribute to the late Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd in mid-August at Toronto's Silver Dollar.
Now based in Fredericton, Thompson and childhood friend Ron Bates (Orange Glass, the Got to Get Got) start a new band together called the Memories Attack "I had some songs I recorded after a long time of not doing anything," Thompson says. "I sent them to Ron and he thought they were cool. I thought I should do another Moonsocket record and asked Ron to write some songs for it but then we decided to just start a new band with the two of us." The Memories Attack release an excellent debut record in late 2006 and play live sporadically. "It's kind of weird since Ron is in Halifax and I live in Fredericton; we don't get to work out songs at all and just send each other demos or nearly finished songs to listen to," Thompson says. "When we have a show we usually only get one practice in, the day of the show, which usually means we're pretty messy. It's awesome playing in this band though." On January 23, Doiron's own Blood on the Tracks, Woke Myself Up is released to rapturous critical reception; she writes of her crumbling marriage and finding new love with uncommon transparency and power, and fans of Eric's Trip are pleased to hear the closest thing to a studio reunion for the band.
After raising their profile with successful Canadian tours and campus radio airplay, Shotgun & Jaybird inexplicably break up in May. "It's too bad it stopped because it was just getting going in some ways," Doiron says, seemingly unable to elaborate why the band ceased functioning. She and Squire form their own two-piece band to perform his songs. They call themselves Blue Heeler before eventually changing their name to Calm Down It's Monday.
Inspired by his elderly grandmother's struggles with memory loss, White culls 14 songs from the 50 he's recently composed and releases Memoreaper as RickWhiteAlbum. Playing every instrument himself, White's latest work is an intense, eclectic affair with acoustic guitars sitting atop hardcore drum beats and his emotional imagery.
On July 10, the shortlist for Canada's Polaris Prize is announced and, though she doesn't win the award that September, Doiron's Woke Myself Up is among the nominees.
The second annual Sappyfest takes place in August and Eric's Trip return, not only to headline the event, but for a tour that includes solo project sets by each member. "We're all older now and back to being friends again," White says of the frequency of Eric's Trip get-togethers since 2006. "Even the relationships that tore Eric's Trip apart, between Julie and Jon and me and Tara, are over now, so we're all back to normal."
Gaudet also starts a new band called Cadavera around this time but even now suggests that the project is "too new to describe."
In October, a book entitled The Top 100 Canadian Albums is published and Love Tara is ranked #39 after a vote by participating music journalists from across Canada.
2008 to 2009
Outside of Eric's Trip tours, White is still quite reclusive due to struggles with his own mental state. "I always have plans to do different things but I need to get myself together enough to play," he says of his solo material. "I could always do acoustic shows but I really like playing with bands but it's hard to put one together when you're a hermit out here. It's mental things; I always feel like I'm smart enough to figure my brain out on my own but I take on some pretty complex things I think that maybe should be dealt with differently."
White reveals that he once sought medical counsel in his 20s but rejected the prescribed course of pharmaceuticals. "That's what turned me off of it; being analyzed in a dry way and being prescribed pills. I don't just want to numb this feeling; if people are mad and sad, it's for a reason. You should try and feel your emotions and work them out. Maybe that's not right for everybody but I'm still in the midst of trying to figure myself out.
"In the last few years, I've seen my art as a kind of tarot card for myself. I learned how to create unconsciously - just getting it all out. That's why I write so many songs; I figure if I get it all out without cutting it, it'll be raw like a dream y'know? Then I can analyze it after. I can analyze August now but I still don't have a handle on Memoreaper. I think that's magical; creating something for your self to understand after, instead of saying what it is."
One a rare occasion in February 2008, White plays a solo show at the Music Gallery in Toronto and is smitten with one of the opening acts, a local duo called One Hundred Dollars. Though he rarely solicits artists who aren't friends, White offers to record the band at his schoolhouse and, in 13 hours on April 27, they create One Hundred Dollars' stunning debut, Forest of Tears. "I'm not good when strangers ask me to do things," White admits. "I'm not really into money and any that I get, I give towards the rent. Brian owns the place but I have room and board and record friends' bands here. I want to work on a video project where I film bands performing here. I don't even charge people half the time. I recorded pretty much every band in Moncton when I lived there just because I had an eight-track and figured someone had to document them. I kinda grew up not thinking of it as a job."
As the third annual Sappyfest looms, Eric's Trip plot a late summer/early fall tour after being invited to play in Spain and also to participate in Sub Pop's 20th Anniversary Festival in Seattle. At Sappy, White screens a film that compiles footage from the band's initial period of existence; billed as Eric's Trip: 1990-1996, White suggests that a DVD is forthcoming. That same month, Doiron, Squire, and White begin work on a follow-up to Woke Myself Up. The band's frequent collaborations and annual get-togethers cause some to wonder if Eric's Trip is now a going concern.
"I wouldn't say we're active," Thompson explains. "I think Julie and Rick are way too busy to get back at it full time. I predict it will be a once in a while thing. Maybe it will be a once a year at Sappyfest thing? I dunno. I would love it to result in a lot more though."
Gaudet is less certain about the band's future together but isn't totally sure he can play many more shows for personal reasons. "Hard to say," he says. "With the world becoming fascists towards smokers I don't know if they should just look for a non-smoking drummer."
Doiron suggests that, while Eric's Trip have been reuniting for special occasions, a full collaboration isn't out of the question. "We have talked about recording and everybody thinks it'd be fun but we haven't actively pursued it yet. Rick's also talked about doing an album of his songs with me singing or something. So those things are in the works but, because we're all busy doing our own things, we're pretty relaxed about it now and are happy to see what happens next."
"We've just been having fun over the last couple of years but I think it'll slow down," White says. "It's never out of the question though. We realized that the songs just kind of flow out of us. I'll walk toward a microphone with no lyric in my head and as soon as I hit it, it comes out and it's just bizarre."
Doiron and Squire work with Washington State's Phil Elverum on a well-praised Mount Eerie record called Lost Wisdom, which is released on October 7.
The Memories Attack release a more refined (and, like their debut, eponymous) second album that is still ripe with scrappy, starkly emotional pop songs and Thompson enjoys a renewed interest in creating music. "I already have some songs started for the next one so we'll be doing that for sure," he says of the Memories Attack. "As for Eric's Trip, I really don't know. I would love to be able to do that full time but I don't think Rick is really into it. I'm sure he loves playing with us. It's really up to him and Julie since she's so busy with her own music, as is Rick."
On March 24, 2009, Doiron's ninth solo album, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day is released and she reveals a particular excitement about the process of making this album. "This record's the most collaborative one I've ever done," she says proudly. "Rick and Fred are very much a part of it and they seemed to have a lot of fun, from what I can tell, working together. There was lots of giggling, trying things. Fred and I have been playing as a two-piece for two years and it was great to have him playing drums, and he did the extra guitar parts too. So it's good to have him doing both and Rick did all the bass and keyboards. It was great; any time you can spend a couple of days with Rick out in the country, it's wonderful, so to make a record you're really excited about at the same time, it's even better."
White prepares a new double record called 137 and plans to release a tangible film project about Eric's Trip this spring. "Yeah, I have a new RickWhiteAlbum done, the third one and people seem to like it," he says. "It sounds a lot faster, a bit like Eric's Trip without sounding like it at all.
"I have all this footage and I've always wanted to do something with it," he continues, discussing the Eric's Trip DVD. "I started doing a lot of video editing and I've gotten so into it, I've been dubbing all these old videos that I could edit and put on YouTube. It led to scanning every photo of Eric's Trip; we gathered so many recordings and photographs.
"I didn't want to make a documentary like most of them are. It's just two hours of compiled live and interview footage and MuchMusic appearances, and all the song cuts are whole. Every time I watch a music documentary, I always think 'Aw fuck, why'd they cut that footage? Where'd it come from?' and they only show two seconds. It's not the type of thing they'd put on TV to try to turn people onto Eric's Trip; you'd have to be a fan of the band to appreciate it and I figure I'll just write the story in a booklet that goes along with it. I think it's gonna be called The Eric's Trip Video Show.
"Otherwise, I'm just recording bands; $100, we're doing another record soon and Julie's always willing to record here too. On her new record we got a lot more deep in the production and stuff and she's getting into more of the psychedelic sounds too.
"I like when the girls you've loved find someone else that you like," White says of Squire. "I don't really feel jealousy and that's how I think I lost Tara in a way; I was just kinda blank. But I always tell them that I love them as much as I ever did."