Our Lady Peace taking it to the street

Maida says band has got it together, ready for new music

Published on June 26, 2010
Our Lady Peace bandmates (from left) Duncan Coutts, Jeremy Taggart, Raine Maida and Steve Mazur. Submitted photo

"Innocent" from the album "Clumsy" or "In Repair" from "Spiritual Machines," if there is an Our Lady Peace song you want to hear, they can provide. Well, if anyone can provide, it should be them.

Yet Our Lady Peace - with Duncan Coutts on bass, Jeremy Taggart on drums, Steve Mazur on guitar and vocals from Raine Maida - was not in shape to do so before a recent brushup on their repertoire, according to Maida.

"Automatic Flowers" from the album "Clumsy" or "In Repair" from "Spiritual Machines," if there is an Our Lady Peace song you want to hear, they can provide. Well, if anyone can provide, it should be them.

Yet Our Lady Peace - with Duncan Coutts on bass, Jeremy Taggart on drums, Steve Mazur on guitar and vocals from Raine Maida - was not in shape to do so before a recent brushup on their repertoire, according to Maida.

"Before, there was always songs that people would ask for and we'd be like, 'Oh man, we haven't played that song forever. There's no way we can just pull that out.' Now we can do that, which is pretty cool," he said in a recent phone interview with The Telegram.

"We feel like a real band now," he said, laughing. It is a light laugh and one that says a lot, considering the band's near-breakup in 2005 and back-and-forths on their last album, "Burn, Burn."

Maida said the renewed spirit and musical knowledge comes following a cross-Canada tour, begun at the end of February this year and completed over two months. The band's scheduled appearance in St. John's at the upcoming George Street Festival is a mea culpa of sorts for the absence of a Newfoundland stop on that tour.

It was a unique venture.

Playing two nights in each scheduled city, the shows would consist of the performance of a complete Our Lady Peace Record - either "Clumsy" or "Spiritual Machine," depending on the night - before an intermission and a set styled more like a standard rock concert, mixed with new and older material.

"It was totally exhausting," Maida said. "We played for like two and a half hours each night and then did like an hour and a half meet and greet after these shows, it was just ridiculous.

"But, it kind of, I don't want to say it turned us into a band again, but having to go back and re-learn your own music, having to learn all the songs from 'Spiritual Machine,' even 'Clumsy,' it was just crazy. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of, I don't know, just reconnecting with yourself in a weird way. Me re-connecting with vocal things that I used to do that I don't do as much anymore ... not that they've been abandoned you just, you know, you mature and some things get left behind for whatever reason, but it was really, it was kind of a gift to be able to do that even though it was a long tour, long nights."

Maida compared the experience to a family sitting over old photos, saying it allowed the band to "get really tight as musicians again." It was a nice side-effect to the original reason for the tour: to do something different.

"It was done because we just didn't want to go do another arena tour through Canada. You know, we felt like people have seen that too many times," he said.

It wasn't just "people" the band has shook things up for, Maida said, it was fans.

"I think what we learned on this last tour through the U.S. and Canada was we have our fans and if we can grab some more along the way because something gets on the radio or video, great. But I think really for us it's just about keeping that connection with the people that we have," he said. "Because it's just such a strong fan base, and they're so passionate. It's a pretty special thing. We don't take that for granted at all."

According to Maida, it was not the first revelation from the last few years. Another came while creating the group's latest record at his studio in Los Angeles.

"(That revelation) was, if the four of us, if we trust our instincts and the four of us dig it, those, every time we've felt like that, it's always translated. Every time one of us was like, 'I don't know about that' or felt weird about a song, but we went ahead and did it anyway, usually because of outside pressures from a record company or management or whatever, it usually didn't work out. So I think we finally got a maturity level where it's like, f--- that. We trust ourselves now and that's the MO of this band," he said.

Maida said, at all times, "the live dynamic" is the focus for Our Lady Peace.

"It's really about putting on live music that is tangible and people are really affected by and resonates with them when they leave, so I think we were able to do that on this last tour and I think with any of the new songs, like 'Burn, Burn' was recorded live and it was recorded with that mindset," he said. "And I think most of the records we make from now on are going to have that be at the forefront of what we're doing. It's not about us trying to get on the radio or getting hits. It's really about us writing songs that affect people when we play them live, that have that live dynamic, that translate well live."

The "from now on" is picked up and Maida is asked if another record is coming.

"Absolutely - we already started writing," he said.

The band's last album, "Burn, Burn" - with songs such as 2009 radio hit "All You Did Was Save My Life" - was not under the Sony BMG label the band has had in the past, but was still distributed by Sony. Not so with the next, suggested the frontman.

"(Sony) still distributed ("Burn, Burn") and now we are completely free, finally. So this next record is completely ours and we can put it out whichever way we want. I think we feel like we earned that spot. We did our whole record deal with Sony. We got through it. Which is a pretty amazing thing to say these days, but you know we've earned our freedom now and we're going to abuse it."

In addition to "eating lots of lobster, probably drinking a bit," Maida said the members of Our Lady Peace will pull out some favourites for what he promised would be "a long set" in St. John's July 29.

"It's a unique place in Canada and, kind of, the planet. The people are just, I don't know, it's probably cliche, but just salt of the earth and so friendly," Maida said. "We weren't able to get there for this tour that we just did, but when we heard of a show that was just on the street there, that sounds like the perfect place to play in St. John's."

Opening acts include Kujo and East Coast Music Award winners The Novaks. Tickets are $30 and go on sale Monday, July 5 at NLC stores in the St. John's area and online at www.georgestreetlive.ca or www.ticketbreak.com.



To speak with The Telegram about Our Lady Peace's upcoming appearance at the George Street Festival, frontman Raine Maida had to step away from work on a new solo album at his Los Angeles studio. After talking about the band, he responded to some prodding on the solo tracks.
"I'm working on (an album) right now. It should be finished in the next couple of weeks. And in terms of releasing stuff, that is going to be released in a very unique way. Because it's spoken word and based on poems and stuff, it's going to be, you know, very - it's going to come to life. There's going to be some animation stuff with it and like an iPad or iPhone app where it can really bring the words to life, because it's so based on the words. So I'm excited to finish it and I'm really loving the music," he said.
Maida told The Telegram he has not absolutely settled on a title, but his working title is "At the Scene of a Riot."
"What I plan to do is release songs separately. So probably in the next few weeks there'll be a song out and we're just going to release probably a song every few weeks and come like October release the whole package," he said.
Then again, he can change those plans whenever he likes.
"I can do it on my own time. I don't have to get people's permission or record companies to get their marketing teams together to figure out what to do. It's just kind of, when I finish a song I can put it out," he said.
He re-iterated fans should expect to hear at least some of the music this summer. It will be his second solo collection, his first being "The Hunters Lullaby" (www.rainemaida.net).