Sex and Canadians are just part of the story
By Darren MacDonald, The Sudbury Star, Sudbury
The DoneFors embrace funk, country, pop, jazz and, it seems, sex. Despite its provocatively tilted debut CD, How to Have Sex With Canadians, lead singer and main songwriter Janine Stoll insists the band is actually quite tame.The name is largely ironic, although sex is a common theme in the album’s 12 songs.The band also has a strong Sudbury connection. Not only did the group play Northern Lights Festival Boreal last summer, drummer Brian Lahaie is a member of the great Sudbury band Superstack.
Stoll spoke with The Star on Wednesday in advance of the band’s show tonight at the Townehouse Tavern.
In addition to being perhaps the best album title ever, How to Have Sex With Canadians is a pretty provocative way to introduce the band to the world. Is the band all about sex?
Janine Stoll: “It really isn’t. I think a lot of people buy the album expecting they’re going to learn everything about sex. But it’s just silly and tongue-in cheek. But the music is actually a lot more serious than that.”
So people shouldn’t expect a live sex show?
JS: “No, it’s not a live sex show, but we will play fetish parties if we’re offered enough money (laughs).”
How did the DoneFors come together?
JS: “I’ve been playing music with Liam Smith, who’s the bass player, for probably about 10 years. He and I have been pals for a really long time. And Paul (MacDougall) I know from Mr. Something Something, a band Liam also played in. I ended singing backups for Mr. Something Something and we all became really close friends. Out of that grew a musical symbiosis.”
And when I released my solo album, they played with me and we called it the Janine Stoll trio.
“We were asked to play a larger festival, and we thought why not go all out and hire a drummer. And Brian played that show with us and after that, we all agreed we should be a band. Rather than being about my music and everybody backing me up, we decided it should be four parts, all equal, everybody all in. And we’ve been doing this since 2006.”
And you have a direct Sudbury connection — your drummer.
JS: “Yeah, Brian, he’s with Superstack. He’s a local guy.”
Is that how the Sudbury show came about?
JS: “The Sudbury show dates back to when we played Northern Lights this year. It sort of made sense for us to have a follow-up show at The Townehouse. We played the Parker House, which was kind of cool. I think we’re the only musical act they’ve ever had there. It was a little swankier than sleeping in the basement of The Townehouse (laughs). It’s two different worlds. But if there’s an audience that might appreciate our music a little bit more, it’s at The Townehouse.”
It’s such a cool venue.
JS: “It is really cool. We’ve wanted to play there for a long time. We’re really excited. It’s got a great crowd, great sound, great staff.”
Critical reaction to the CD has been quite positive. What about audience reaction?
JS: “In some cases, people seem to love the live show even more than the CD. The live show is just so different and dynamic. Maybe it’s the fact that when you hear a studio record, you think it’s all done in the studio, that there’s a lot of tricks involved in that process. But when people actually see our live show and see that we can reproduce it on stage, they realize that we recorded the CD live off the floor, which is how we did the record.”
JS: “Yeah, we had some crude isolation — I was in the bedroom and we had a sleeping bag stapled to the wall. And the other guys were in the other room. We just drank champagne and ate cookies all weekend and did a hard-core live-off- the-floor capture. We’re really proud of that fact.”
For someone who isn’t familiar with you, can you take a stab at describing your sound for me?
JS: “Sure. When you come to our show, you might be surprised to find that we play a lot of different genres of music. That’s because we all come from different backgrounds and we all have a wide appreciation for different types of music. Brian is a classically-trained drummer, and Liam and Paul both went to jazz school. And I don’t have any academic accolades at all, just the fact I’ve been writing songs since I was young. So we have everything from folk music to roots music. We’ve got some country, definitely a jazz influence, a bit of funk influence and soul, a little bit of reggae. It’s pretty diverse. It’s all over the map.”