Aloha, modern rock and roll

By James Keller

While Luke Doucet has been hammering away at a newly discovered solo side of himself, many a fan have feared that his band, Veal, had broken up. However, with a new Veal CD near finished, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

"It kind of seemed that way," says the Vancouver native. "We took a while off and we all kind of chilled out, did our own thing."

The rumours stem from Doucet’s effort over the past year supporting Aloha, Manitoba, his solo debut. A blend of blue-grass roots music, it’s quite a step away from Veal’s full-out, rock sound found on the band’s previous two independent records. The change, says Doucet, has been a long-time coming.

"Some of the things I’ve been listening to when I was growing up like Tom Waits or Willie Nelson I ignored," he explains. "I grew up listening to roots music, country and blues, and I realized I’ve been playing music for a long time and I’ve never acknowledged these influences as being serious."

The result, a down-to-earth, acoustic album that mixes traditional blue-grass music with modern folk roots is certainly anything but Veal.

"There’s nothing rock and roll about it," Doucet says. "There were never any grand commercial aspirations with this record–they didn’t exist."

Honesty is at the heart of this formula, creating both music and lyrics that are accessible to listeners. While the theory is nothing new to Doucet, honesty has been the key ingredient of his entire career, he changed his methods–especially those behind the lyrics.

"This is the first record I’ve ever made where I had all of the stories for the songs mapped out in my head before I wrote the songs–roots music is very conducive to storytelling," says Doucet. "The goal is to entertain, whether that means I’m telling them the truth or whether I’m offering them some kind of fiction."

As good as the past year in the world of country-folk has been for Doucet, he hasn’t forgotten Veal. In fact, now more than ever, Doucet needs to concentrate on Veal and bring in the fans.

"We had a conversation a few years ago with our lawyer and he said, ‘don’t start worrying about the business side of things in terms of signing a record deal or any of that until you’ve made your third independent record,’" recalls Doucet. "People have to take notice, they have to like it. If they don’t like it, we’re fucked."

A record that was originally going to be a second Doucet solo album–rock, this time–the new disc will approach the music differently than most popular rock acts dominating the industry as of late.

"It’s rock and roll and that’s the sound of two or three or four or five people standing in a room together and playing loud instruments–one of the integral things to that sound is the imperfections that lie within that process," says Doucet, disappointed with modern rock’s unwillingness to look at music like this. "Most rock and roll records these days have nothing to do with rock and roll because if someone plays something even slightly imperfect, they edit the snot out of it so it doesn’t have any fucking life in it."

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