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The best kept secret in music


"Doctor Brings Danny Greaves And Rob Higgins Together As One"

A scant few weeks after Doctor played their first show during a packed MapleMusic/NXNE showcase at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern, the project’s two masterminds, bassist Rob Higgins (whose resume includes OLP, Change Of Heart and The Royals) and ex-Watchmen vocalist Danny Greaves are sitting with a couple cold ones on Higgins' patio recalling how this new project came about.

"The Watchmen were in America on the Silent Radar tour and our bass player needed a month away and Rob filled in," says Greaves. "He and I got really close during that time because it was a rough tour that we were on. He saw us in a vulnerable state, I think, and it made for a long lasting relationship for me and him."

After Greaves left Winnipeg to live in Toronto, the two were able to spend more tiem with each other and collaborate.

"When Danny moved to Toronto we got the chance to hang out from morning 'til late afternoon because neither of us had anything to do, so we had time to hang and just throw ideas and share our frustrations about our own bands," says Higgins.

The duo’s partnership has spawned the CD High Is As High Gets, slated for release on August 10. It's a sonic assault that blends Greaves' distinctive voice and uncanny sense of melody with Higgins' blast furnace vocal assault and fuzzed out bass stylings. This ain’t The Watchmen, you can be sure of that.

"It was so novel to us to be able to conceive of something fresh and free of all baggage, and if we could keep cool with each other and communicated with each other as much as we could, we were able to start from scratch and really make something," says Higgins.

Tracks from the forthcoming CD range from the turbo-charged guitar-driven single "What Makes You Think He’s Lucky," to the soul-meets-Zeppelin groove of "Sweet U," on to the paint peeling "Get Your Own War."

"I think that Rob’s just doing what he’s always done, and I’m just doing what I’ve always done and it’s the togetherness that makes it that third unknown thing," Greaves says.

"Watchmen singer becomes Doctor"

TORONTO -- Before The Watchmen came to an end, Toronto-based frontman Danny Greaves started collaborating with bassist/guitarist Rob Higgins of The Royals (aka Rocket Science) and Change of Heart. The material was so exciting to them that it overshadowed their main projects. The result is Doctor, whose debut album, "High Is As High Gets," comes out on MapleMusic/Universal Music Canada on August 10.

The first single, "What Makes You Think He's Lucky," has just been serviced to rock radio in Canada and will be worked by Sam DeAngelis, MapleMusic's new director of national promotion. The song is a fierce rocker whose verses feature Greaves' familiar voice, but the chorus is a shout/scream-style with the help of Higgins as well.

"We all know Danny's voice. He's still an excellent rock vocalist," says MapleMusic's general manager Kim Cooke. "The wildcard in all of this and the risk is that they would turn in music that's interesting and contemporary, key point, because he's a veteran act. And we think he did."

The album is licensed through Toronto's SUMO Productions, a division of The Management Trust, which handled The Watchmen's career and now represents Doctor, in addition to Gord Downie, The Populars, Sass Jordan, and Jenny Gear.

SUMO put out The Watchmen's full-length debut, 1992's "McLaren Furnace Room," before the Winnipeg-formed band signed directly to MCA Records Canada (now Universal Music) and later EMI Music Canada. Greaves and Higgins wanted to go that same route in order to retain ownership of the master and also leave them free to shop to labels outside the country and seeks other opportunities such as movie soundtracks. But more importantly, to Greaves, he says, is that they wanted to record and release the album immediately.

"I knew that the whole shopping it to majors thing could have happened because I really believe in the music," says Greaves. "I think it's the best stuff that I've done and I think it sounds like what stuff sounds like now in an artful crafty kind of way, but I just wanted it to happen now. I knew if we waited, we'd probably just be starting to talk about producers or something."

When Greaves and Higgins started writing material together, The Management Trust's Jake Gold played some bass-and-vocal demos to Cooke of MapleMusic, "I said, 'Would you do a record with Danny?' and they were totally into it," reports Gold. "The demos didn't sound anything like the record. It was based on the fact that they knew how great Danny is."

Cooke says Gold was a big supporter of MapleMusic prior to when he even joined the company. The Tragically Hip, which Gold managed for 17 years, has been part of MapleMusic's online retail site since the beginning, and six weeks before 2002's "In Violet Light" came out, Gold asked the company to build The Hip Club web site. Later, Downie licensed his second solo album, 2003's "Battle Of The Nudes," to Maple, and then the first, 2001's "Coke Machine Glow," too.

"It's just been a really good business relationship," says Cooke. "Then, one day, Jake made this approach - 'Hey I'm gonna make this record. Do you guy want to be a part of it?' It's a bit unusual, but we kind of signed on sight unseen, or music unheard, based on the people involved."

After hiring producer, engineer and mixer John Whynot (Colin Linden, Blue Rodeo), they enlisted guitarist Jamie Edwards, who played keyboards and second guitar for Our Lady Peace , and drummer Dan Cornelius, who also played with Higgins in Rocket Science/The Royals, as well as with Sass Jordan, Alannah Myles, Acid Test, Lei, Rubbersnake, and others. They cut the album in just 15 days.

Greaves and Higgins considered several band names, including Enemy Stone, 7, and McInroe, but after putting them through some test marketing with friends, decided on Doctor. "I like the fact that it's this omnipotent word that everyone knows across the world and I don't think people have associated with rock 'n' roll before," says Greaves.

Curiously, the Doctor bio issued by Maple makes no mention of the musicians' pedigree, in other words, no nod to The Watchmen or to Higgins' past. It doesn't even say that the pair met when Higgins subbed in with The Watchmen for a U.S. tour when bassist Ken Tizzard took time off to spend with his wife and first-born child. Asked if that's because it's hard to get a second shot in an industry geared toward a younger generation with young artists, and Greaves says, "To me, newer is better; newer is cool."

Asked specifically about the bio omission, Cooke admits, "That was conscious. The whole idea here is not to concentrate on the past. Everyone knows Danny's name. We're certainly not denying it, but neither do we want to give Doctor coattails specifically on The Watchmen."

Cooke believes The Watchmen fans will find out about Doctor and that if radio isn't aware of who its singer is it won't matter. "We think they've made a good solid contemporary sound - JAM! Music


First Single - "What Makes You Think He's Lucky"
Debut Album - "High Is As High Gets"


Feeling a bit camera shy


Doctor’s debut album, High Is As High Gets, is a compelling study in rock’s essential contrasts.

It’s an aural presentation which strikes a balance between pastoral pop beauty and an outpouring of unleashed adrenalin. It’s a world-class recording made with an indie ethos. And it celebrates the artistic marriage of two musicians with distinct backgrounds who have come together in ways that may surprise the casual observer.

Doctor is the songwriting partnership of Daniel Greaves and Rob Higgins. From the outside looking in, Higgins is the ultimate indie musician, a bassist, guitarist and songwriter who has steadfastly and happily worked in the margins of the rock scene. Greaves is the archetypal melodicist, a singer and songwriter with an otherworldly voice who has always been all about hooks. But the making of High Is As High Gets has drawn each into the other’s world — to the point that they complement each other in symbiotic fashion.

“The difference for both of us is that he has someone like me to work with and I have someone like him,” says Greaves. “In the end it’s a real dynamic, a very exciting thing.”

Greaves and Higgins have known each other for ages but they truly connected only a couple of years back. Still-young veterans of several musical ventures, they spent dozens of coffee-fuelled mornings together — listening to music, talking about music, and playing each other their musical ideas. Collaboration was inevitable and it sparked new approaches to creativity in both men. Greaves confesses to learning to play stringed instruments at least well enough to write riffs for this project, while Higgins remarks on the melodic directions he has taken with his new partner.

Weight, which anchors the album, was the partnership’s first fully realized song.

“That was when we realized that doing rock music between the two of us would be really interesting,” says Higgins. “So we kept at it, writing songs and sharing ideas until we finally came to the decision that we should do a full album together.”

Quickly the pair gathered their material, pre-produced bass-and-vocal demos and solicited outside help in the form of seasoned producer, engineer and mixer John Whynot.

“Rob called me on Danny’s phone, explained what they were doing and before he could even really ask me, I just said ‘If it’s you two, I’m in,’” Whynot explains. “And away we went.”

They enlisted guitarist Jamie Edwards and drummer Dan Cornelius for the recording sessions and the quartet hit a Toronto studio for 15 days of tracking, followed by a week of mixing. The result is a dozen songs fuelled by the sort of energy that comes from the spark of musical discovery and the intensity of working within a tight deadline. In Whynot’s sure hands, the sounds were captured without sacrificing feel.

“It’s not an indie-sounding recording at all,” says the producer. “But it’s got an indie soul. And it would surprise people to know who did what in there. Rob’s got the indie background, but he was the one who was really into the parts and the breakdown, whereas Dan was really into the gestalt of the thing — the overall feel.”

Given its title, Balancing — the third track on High Is As High Gets — could be considered the overture for the entire project. It opens with a crunching riff before settling into the infectiously propulsive beat that drives the tune. As Greaves sings, “I’m out on a limb…” he’s certainly talking about taking chances. Though he’s describing personal relationships the refrain can be read as a metaphor for Doctor. Higgins and Greaves are laying themselves bare here — the song’s protagonist has “nothing to win,” but Rob and Daniel have nothing to lose, either.

Album opener What Makes You Think He’s Lucky? only underlines that point, then adds an exclamation mark — it’s an agitated raver with a screaming chorus, and it takes Doctor to the limit. Short, sharp and shocking it’s a full-on, punk-infused burst of energy and adrenalin that’ll pour lighter fluid on the mosh pits Doctor will inevitably ignite.

High Is As High Gets has its contemplative moments, too. Sweet U is, for the most part, a beautifully restrained reflection on love. Me and Nick Drake opens with the beginning of a childhood rhyme and goes on to describe how an adult, with child-like wonder, views a partner as “brighter than I ever thought I could be,” before hitting home with a driving lament about making the wrong impression. The aforementioned Weight is indeed this album’s emotional and musical heart. It captures Greaves’ soaring vocal range and describes a love relationship in poetic terms, yet it is also shot through with a roiling, swirling guitar riff that encapsulates the song’s emotional dynamic and Doctor’s overall sense of controlled tension.

It’s that sense of tension, the notion of making things happen that is embodied by the band’s name. Greaves says he views Doctor as a verb rather than a noun.

“It’s about things maybe no