Rob Moir branches out with solo work

Having grown up on a steady diet of alternative rock and punk, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to believe the music being created by Toronto musician Rob Moir would be inclined to follow the very same path.

And though he hasn’t completely renounced his roots, Moir’s solo work is more apt to show glimpses of acts like Wilco and Whiskeytown than anything closely related to punk.

“There was a Toronto campus radio program called Mods and Rockers that was on University of Toronto station CIUT that I grew up listening to,” Moir begins. “And the host would play stuff that I was into at the time like music from the California punk wave but the show also introduced me to artists like Wilco and The Weakerthans. After a little while, I realized that all these artists I was hearing were taking a punk spirit in their approach to writing music that was essentially folk music. I loved the sound and what I could do with it.”

Moir hasn’t always been a solo artist. He fronted the band Dead Letter Dept. from around 1996 when the group was known as The Stiffs until the time they announced they were going their separate ways.

He admits that by the time the group had written their last record Rock n Roll Hates You, his songwriting had already taken a turn toward the music he is performing today.

“At the time that our last record came out, I was focusing on the groundwork that my solo debut This Is The Lie is made up of.”

Before Moir started committing the songs featured on his solo record to tape, he says that he took a bit of a break from music and traveled through Europe by bicycle. As far as he was concerned, it was a truly productive writing session, even in such atypical circumstances.

“At the point I was touring through Europe, I was working out my songs on a deeper level. I would sometimes come up with lyrics while I was on my bike, singing them back to myself to see what would stick. I don’t tend to record a lot when I am writing because I like to see what sticks naturally. I figure that if I can remember a line or a chorus to a song a week later on its own then I am onto something worth keeping,” he says.

Moir couldn’t be happier with the way that his current tour has unfolded before him. While he is traveling in unconventional ways as per “normal” touring standards (choosing to travel by train, bus and public transport), he couldn’t ask for a better response than what he is being given on a nightly basis.

“I have played to some of the most diverse audiences of my life and it feels like I’m winning the battle each night,” he says. “I am regularly selling out of CDs and needing to have them express mailed to me, which is a great problem to have, I suppose.”

Article published in February 18, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript