Solo & stranded

After a year of touring, Rob Moir is back on familiar ground

Playing in Toronto, Rob Moir is backed by The Great Lates, featuring former bandmate and Dead Letter Dept. drummer Mike Leblanc.
Playing in Toronto, Rob Moir is backed by The Great Lates, featuring former bandmate and Dead Letter Dept. drummer Mike Leblanc.

Rob Moir was stranded at a bus stop in St. Catherines until 1 a.m last week. Travel delays are a touring reality for the singer-songwriter and that’s how he likes it.

“It happens sometimes,” he said, adding that he doesn’t own a car and refuses to get one. “I guess in my mind it’s easier and cheaper, to take Greyhound and Via [Rail], and usually it is. But you never know when you’re going to get surprises.”

He brushed off the travel debacle, putting a positive spin on his sometimes unreliable method of transportation.

“It’s definitely an open forum for people to discuss all the things you never want to know about their lives,” Moir said with a laugh. “But it’s good.”

And this is what Moir does. He takes what seems unappealing and turns it into something enviable and romantic. He listed a woman’s unheated attic in Münster, Germany as one of his favourite shows he’s played so far.

“She decorated it with all this crazy taxidermy and lights and just all these interesting antiques. It was cold and she made cider and everyone was just sitting around in blankets, drinking this cider,” Moir said.

The Toronto native returned from his European tour last month, where he spent five weeks playing every offbeat music hub that he could find. You’d be hard-pressed to find a venue that the alt-folk musician won’t play. As his own booking agent, he’s constantly on the lookout for alternative spaces.

“You know, it’s amazing what you can find on the internet,” Moir said. “I think the more interesting the space, the more likely you’re going to introduce your music and have an experience for the audience. It’s going to be a bit more memorable than just seeing a band in a big, half-empty club.”

After the January 2011release of his debut EP, This Is The Lie, Moir started a slew of tours, playing in California, across Canada, throughout Europe and back again.

This Is The Lie is Moir’s first solo record. The album has sincerity and soul, from its title track — a young-love, folk tune — to the worldly outlook of “A Love With No Past.” Moir’s cool-and-casual voice floats over his acoustic guitar. The album may come as a shock for Moir fans, who spent five years listening to him as the frontman of Toronto alt-punk band Death Letter Dept. The musician split from the band in 2008.

“People kind of move on and tastes change and writing changes,” Moir said. “Bands are like relationships with anybody, they should only last as long as they’re good and everything has a time limit.”

He said his musical transition came naturally — from Dead Letter Dept’s edgy pop-punk to his own folk style.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a musician that was constantly writing varied material,” he said. “I don’t think it was so much an enormous change as much as it just sort of felt like the right time.”

Despite the pressures of headlining his own shows, whether in an attic in Münster or Toronto’s popular Horseshoe Tavern, Moir’s decided he prefers performing solo.

“It taught me how to even be a much better musician than I was before,” he said. “I like the idea of stepping out in front of a brand new audience by myself and knowing that I can’t suck or I won’t eat that next day.”

Rob Moir plays the Mansion on Dec. 2 at 9 p.m.

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