There are no flies on Luke Doucet. After a long day of media interviews and appearances promoting his just-released album ( Steel City Trawler), the songwriting singer, producer and fancy-fingered guitarist was relaxing in Toronto on a beer-parlour patio when he rose from his seat, announcing that he should get back to his Hamilton home. His young publicist agreed, suggesting that he rest up for the next day's flight to Winnipeg.
"Actually," he told her, "I need to go for a run."
For Doucet, an insomniac and fledgling marathon runner, there aren't enough hours in the day and too many of them during the night.
The Album: Steel City Trawler,credited to Luke Doucet and the White Falcon, is a departure of sorts for Doucet, the former hired-gun guitarist for Sarah McLachlan. It's an assured, well-written record, but he has made those before, most notably the Juno-nominated, darkly styled Broken (And Other Rogue States) from 2005.
And Steel City Trawler, partly inspired by the current home of football's Tiger-Cats, is a rock record. Of course, Doucet previously has made those, including the Nick Hornby-approved Blood's Too Rich from 2008. The different approach this time is due to the helming of Andrew Scott, the Sloan drummer who produced the album.
"What I was hoping to get out of this record was not something necessarily that I'm the best person to do," explains Doucet, who self-produced his previous works. The result is, well, a Sloan-y sound - a bit bright, a bit bouncy. "I find the sound of the bass and drums on the Sloan records really compelling," Doucet says, "and Andrew played almost all the bass and drums on this album."
The Sleeplessness: The album's Tom Petty-ish You Gotta Get It includes the line "Sleeping is a luxury that makes me sweat." Explains Doucet: "I've been an insomniac since the age of 11. I remembering doing exercises in bed, trying to tire myself out so I could sleep."
These days, the boyish 37-year-old gets his workouts on running paths and roads, training for his first marathon. "I like to run," he says. "It's good for my head and it puts me in the good mood - it's not just for my insomnia."
His first road race will happen in October, in Devon, England, site of the Dartmoor Vale races. Doucet's weekends are booked up for the next few months, but he'll be touring Britain with Blue Rodeo in the fall, with one lone Sunday - race day - off.
Lightfoot Ya Better Take Care: If Doucet is worried over the sleepless hours that sundown brings, Sundown the song is another matter. The Lightfoot classic is reimagined on Steel City Trawler as a rougher, louder rocker. "I always heard that song in my head as a Crazy Horse song," Doucet says, referring to Neil Young's ragged grunge posse. What will Lightfoot think of the twang-and-roll version? "I doubt he'll like it," Doucet guesses. "But that's okay - it's not really for him."
The Wife: Doucet is married to Melissa McClelland, the delightful singer-songwriter. The pair are collaborators in the studio - Doucet has produced three McClelland albums - and on tour. "We find ourselves waking up in a quaint B&B in Cape Town on a day off," Doucet says, "and I think to myself, 'This is a day in our life, a regular Tuesday.' I really feel like I'm getting away with murder."
McClelland's career is thriving, soon necessitating some time apart from her husband. She'll tour as one of the principals of the upcoming McLachlan and Friends series of concerts. "It's a very generous gesture by Sarah," says Doucet, who years ago joined McLachlan's band as a 19-year-old hot shot. "It terrifies me that Melissa won't be able to tour with me, but it's absolutely the right thing for her to be doing, for her own career."