|Band strikes fame's tune with conviction||N/A||Jan 7, 1997||Future goals and conviction|
|A Peace of the action||N/A||Tuesday, January 21, 1997||All about Duncan|
|Our Lady Peace building on fanbase||Toronto Sun||Tuesday, January 21, 1997||More on touring and Duncans arrival|
|Clumsy in name, not in deed||The Vancouver Province||Jan. 22, 1997||Mike the "web-head"|
|Peace time||Calgary Sun||Thursday, January 23, 1997||About Raine's reoccuring injury, the addition of Duncan and touring with Van Halen|
|Our Lady Peace on track with new album||The Edmonton Journal||Jan. 23, 1997||Time between albums|
|Campus Canada||N/A||February 1997||A really funny group interview|
||Canadian Musician||Unknown||History, Chris, vocal lessons|
|Our Lady Peace hit Lethbridge||N/A||March 6, 1997||Border trouble, the name|
|Interview with Jeremy Taggart||N/A||March 97||Really cool, including the bands drinking (or lack of) habits|
|Our Lady Peace- Tipping the Scales||Chart Magazine||March 1997||Sammy Hagar, moodiness, Lanni|
|Our Lady Peace - Model Citizens||Access Magazine||April-May 1997||Interview done before a photo shoot|
|OLP interview||Extreme Magazine(issue 16)||Spring 1997||Great Raine article on Clumsy, 'Arn', lyrics, Trapeze|
|EdGEfest'97 official tour guide: OUR LADY PEACE||Edgefest Official Tourguide||June 1997||Individual info|
|Our Lady Peace directs its next video||Jam! Showbiz||Saturday, July 26, 1997||The au naturel for Automatic Flowers|
|Jinx? What jinx?||Calgary Sun||Tuesday, August 26, 1997||On egos, funny MTV story|
|Edging your bets||N/A||Friday, August 29, 1997||On lyrics, Superman's dead, kids|
|Pollstar Article: Our Lady Peace||N/A||October 15, 1997||Our Lady Peace: A bit more history|
|The Edge Live Chat||102.1 The Edge||October 20, 1997||Talking to Mike|
|Our Lady Peace tackles arena shows||Jam! Music||Thursday, November 20, 1997||On the 'Clumsy' tour|
|Our Lady Peace: Is Superman Dead?||N/A||November 29th 1997||(Duncan and Mike)The haunted cottage, Beavis and Butthead|
|Our Lady Peace's Somersaults||Circus||November ‘97||The Beattles, Silverchair, Clumsy|
|Our Lady Peace||Maximum Guitar||Nov 1997||About Clumsy, guitar|
|Our Lady Peace's Jeremy Taggart||Modern Drummer||November '97||A cool couple paragraphs on Jeremy|
|Canadians Crash Our Party||N/A||Unknown||Interesting article on the U.S., border trouble|
|Hitting The Road||N/A||Unknown||Edgefest|
|Free Peace at Jock Harty||N/A||Unknown||Advice to bands|
WHEN Robert Plant heard Our Lady Peace's 1995 debut album, Naveed, he
had his people contact
their people and the band soon found themselves opening for Page and Plant on what ended up being a
fairy-tale tour for the young band from Toronto. Though the band took their good fortune in stride at
the time, it was a different story about three months later.
``That's when it the shock really began to set in,'' lead singer Raine Maida recalls.
``It really was a delayed reaction, which is just as well, because if
we had realised what was going on
I'm not sure we could have handled it.
``Not only was it a dream come true, but at the first sound check where
we all met, Plant said he hadn't
heard anything with as much conviction as our first album in nearly five years. That is the most positive
thing anyone has ever said to us.''
And if there's one adjective to describe Our Lady Peace's sound, it is conviction.
Maida's singing can cut through a crowded concert hall like a buzz-saw
through cardboard, and his
intensity is equalled by the instrumental side of the band (guitarist Mike Turner, bassist Duncan Coutts,
and drummer Jeremy Taggart).
They've carved a niche for themselves with their heavy, drone-oriented
sound, making them unique on
the Canadian circuit.
Because their record company, Sony, didn't push for a speedy follow-up
to the successful Naveed,
Our Lady Peace had plenty of time to work on new material.
And the resulting album, Clumsy, goes a long way toward beating the
fabled sophomore jinx. ``We're
sort of lucky that we had about two years to work on the second album,'' Maida explains.
``The time span will appear shorter to the American audience as well,
because there was only one year
between the release of Naveed and Clumsy.
``Sophomore album or not, the band has what appears to be a bright future,
and as for goals: `What
we would really like to accomplish is to write a song or two that will outlive the band.'''
If Duncan Coutts were to read his horoscope for October 1995, it might've said something like "second peace offering brings good fortune."
That's when the 27-year-old bassist became the "new guy" in Our Lady Peace, pulling off the musical equivalent of hopping onto a runaway train. Keeping an impressive momentum nearly four years after its debut album Naveed came out, Our Lady Peace releases its follow-up today. It's called Clumsy - an interesting title for such a confident and calculated album.
Coutts replaces Chris Eacrett, who left the band due to "musical and personal differences."
Coutts had actually turned down the gig once before; he wanted to finish up his degree in filmmaking - but then Our Lady Peace was just a garage band at the time. It didn't even have a name.
One can imagine Coutts doing a Homer Simpson - "doh!" - as he watched what happened next.
Like a perfect rock 'n' roll fairy tale, the band was signed to Sony Music on the strength of a single demo tape. After three solid years of touring, including opening slots for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Van Halen and Alanis Morissette, Our Lady Peace sold more than 500,000 copies of Naveed in North America and became one of Canada's top modern rock bands.
Says Coutts, "Inevitably, when you're seeing Naveed being played 25 times a day, you start to think, `Hmm, I wonder what would've happened if ...' But who knows? I'm a much different bass player than Chris was and I guess everything happens for a reason. It's funny how it's all sort of come full circle now, because when I got a call, it was a very big shock. It was absolutely out of the blue.
"Maybe there was some karmic force happening," he laughs at the suggestion. "I'm not sure. I'm not going to dismiss the possibility of it."
Freed now from juggling day jobs and playing in Toronto bar bands, Coutts was instantly made a full partner in Our Lady Peace; given how seriously the band members take their music, it couldn't work any other way. Singer Raine Maida may come up with the lyrics, but the band writes songs as a unit. The results on Clumsy almost sound like an entirely new band.
"I think maybe there's a new freshness to it," says Coutts. "If
you listen to the two records back to back, I see them definitely as different,
but I don't see it as an unnatural progression. It's not only with the
addition of me as just a different person in the band, but these guys had
about seven shows under their belt before their first album was made. And
between Clumsy and Naveed, there were 450-500 shows played. So people are
going to change as players when they get to know each other more. And I
think that's why this album breathes a little better and is a
little more dynamic."
Coutts says Our Lady Peace didn't consciously try to avoid making a Naveed Part II - a reverse of the usual sophomore album philosophy which tends to backfire more often than not.
"We just wanted to go in and give all these songs ideas their own life and play with them and rearrange them and all that until we're completely happy with it. If they sound just like Naveed or if they don't, it wasn't a huge concern. We just wanted to make each song the best it could be."
That also takes the pressure away in terms of equalling the success of the first album; if Clumsy fails to sell, it's no one's fault but the band's. "If it does well, it does well," says Coutts.
"If it doesn't, at least at the end of the day we've made an album that we like and I'd be proud to have in my CD collection."
It looks like the new guy has the Our Lady Peace party line down pat.
Two-and-a-half years and 350 shows later, Toronto alt-rockers Our Lady Peace are already back on the bus to promote their new album, Clumsy, which hits record stores today.
In fact, lead singer-lyricist Raine Maida is already sounding fatigued as he chats on the phone late yesterday morning from the group's recording studio in Weston, Ont.
"I'm basically in my pyjamas still," he says.
And OLP, expected to do a small club show in Toronto in mid-February before coming back to headline a proposed all-Canadian festival this summer, is only just beginning a closed-campus tour that saw them do three dates on the weekend.
But delivering the goods live is what the band, which has toured with the likes of Page and Plant, Van Halen, The Ramones and Alanis Morissette, has become known for.
"That's just kind of the precedent we set, I guess, on the first record," says Maida, referring to 1994's Naveed which sold 500,000 copies and spawned a Top 10 hit in Canada and the U.S. with Starseed.
"No matter what happens in the media or on video or on radio, playing live for us is when, I think, we really hold on to fans or have fans that I think we can build a career with."
Given the impressive list of bands they've backed up it's not
surprising that OLP group members have their
Surprisingly for Maida, it was touring with fellow Torontonians I Mother Earth across Canada. They have since become great friends. Although having an admirer in Robert Plant ranks right up there too.
"I've never been a huge Led Zeppelin fan," he says with a chuckle. "Even when we opened up for him. Looking back on it now, I think it's the highlight of my career, having him sit down with us and tell us how much he liked our record."
Guitarist Mike Turner has similar memories.
"On the first Page and Plant show, we were still just travelling in a converted school bus and I remember going out to get something in it and thinking how ridiculous it looked parked among eight or nine tractor trailers."
Turner says OLP is also still friendly with Van Halen, and offers some insight on why Sammy Hagar was turfed.
"The one thing with Van Halen is that they are professionals and they believe in hard work. That's probably the biggest lesson we took away from that experience. I mean Ed (Van Halen), every day, gets up and works at doing what he does. I mean, he's a rock icon but still works. I don't think Sammy had the same level of work ethic, so when that essential difference happens you're sort of destined to fail."
OLP had first-hand experience with out-of-sync band members. Original bassist Chris Eacrett left the band in the fall of 1995, right after the tour with Van Halen, coincidentally.
"I don't want to call our old bass player Chris a weak link, but there was just something in his personality and his musical direction that was beginning to become a cancer for the rest of us. It's unfortunate," says Maida. "I think he's a talented musician, just different from us." Interestingly, replacement Duncan Coutts was OLP's first choice for bassist when the band formed, but he went back to university instead.
Both Maida and Turner say Coutts, who also plays 'cello and keyboards, influenced the sound on Clumsy, although he isn't given any songwriting credits.
"The intention was always there to explore other sounds and we'd always had a desire to get some different textures. 'Cause let's face it, rock guitar is getting very tired, and I'm the guitarist," says Turner.
"Should I go with the eating disorder or the drug problem? What do you think?" jests Our Lady Peace guitarist Mike Turner during a recent interview. "Then we could have a real story."
Oh, he's a savvy one, that Turner. Sharp as a tour's-end guitar pick.
But there is a real story behind Toronto's OLP, and Turner -- despite his genuine modesty -- knows it.
He and his bandmates sold over half a million copies of their first album, 1994's Naveed. They've toured -- by invitation -- with Robert Plant and Alanis Morissette (not to mention having gigged with Bush, Elastica, The Ramones and Van Halen). They've performed more than 350 shows and clocked over 370,000 kilometres in four short years.
Conan O'Brien? Been there. The Jon Stewart Show? Done that. Much and MTV? Rotation sit-u-a-tion.
And now -- ta dah! -- for the second album. Will Clumsy (in stores today) survive the dreaded second-album scrutiny of fans and critics?
The industry buzz reads cake walk and Clumsy sounds anything but. It's a churning collection of architecturally crafted, chromey pop songs that elicit dream-like images of failure and redemption, isolation and humanity.
There are no radical stylistic departures in Clumsy, save some additional instrumentation.
"The first album was successful -- at least in our eyes -- because we stuck to our convictions about what we wanted to do in terms of the songs and the sound," explains Turner from his home in Toronto.
"Our fans liked what we liked. We liked what made us happy as musicians so we're going to have to stay with that because these people, to whom we owe our current situation, validated it the first time."
His fans may embrace the new album, but the tour plans are raising some eyebrows -- closed-campus shows, students only need apply.
"It's a large part of where we came from," explains Turner. "That's sort of our peer group, where we really started to identify with people. It's kind of fun to go back there right off, but there'll be more touring."
Clumsy, says Turner, is about a loss of innocence. Kids today are growing up too fast, trading in childhood for accelerated integration into a society few of us understand as adults.
"Kids today have a particular inability -- and it's not an inherent inability, it's an ability that's been taken away -- to form their own identity," he says.
"The optimist in me would like to think that it just means kids are more centred and organized today. The cynic in me says they have no idea who they are. They've been told who they are.
"The stuff that's said loudest and longest and most effectively to you is that which you'll adopt as your own identity. And that's a little depressing. I'm getting too philosophical now . . . (adopts hoser voice) We're a rock band, we party like crazy on the road, eh."
Our Lady Peace's first single, Superman's Dead, is undeniably philosophical. Turner wraps his dissertation on the loss of innocence with the song's metaphor.
"The original, pure, heroic picture of Superman -- this superhero who is utterly uncorruptible -- was an ideal that you could look up to. And now they've done a marketing work-over on him: 'Well, it seems your demographics are a little weak. We've brought in a stylist for the suit.' There's such a loss of that naive innocence and maybe that's what's being reflected on the album."
Perhaps the band's own loss of innocence is also reflected on the new album.
"We were in Oklahoma City about 10 days after the bombing. There was a palpable, tangible feeling of hurt and injury on an emotional level. There was an open wound to the American society right there. This was a real tragedy. That was the final death of the innocent American Dream, that dissent from within."
A few dreams came true for Mike Turner during the band's swoop through the States. He fondly remembers Robert Plant joining OLP during a chow break outside the catering tent.
"He walked over and said, 'Hi guys, I just wanted to say hi and say I really liked your record. I hear a conviction on it I haven't heard on many records in a long time . . .'
"The same kind of thing with Eddie Van Halen, or Edward as he prefers. Edward is the sweetest guy you'd ever meet. He revolutionized rock guitar and he's just the guy next door."
The bigger the star, maintains Turner, the more real and down to earth. Kinda like the guitarist himself. Hmm.
Who does Turner see as the archetypical Our Lady Peace fan?
"It would probably be a person who is very similar to us," the guitarist muses. "We're pretty normal people. We're a little thoughtful but we're no Nobel Prize winners. I don't think we're any more thoughtful or spiritual than most people."
They may not be Nobel material, but most of OLP's songs slide across the philosophical plane, skidding to a halt somewhere inside the existential school.
"Everyone, in their own way, ponders their existence in some manner," says Turner. "'What the hell am I doing this week, I can't get my head together.' That sort of thing. As a musician, when you notice something, you tend to delve into it more."
In the Nashville area, for example, 52 tornadoes touched down on the day of the Our Lady Peace concert.
"We were listening to the radio," recalls Turner with a chuckle. "'Tonight's concert listings... at the Exit In, Our Lady Peace. And just a reminder, there's a weather warning: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOMES.'"
Eight inches of water flooded the venue that night -- but the show went on.
"On a much sobering note," reflects Turner.
If America is about dreams, a, that's why I asked you guys to play. Hopefully we can have a good few shows together, sorry for interrupting your dinner.' I'm like, 'I beg your pardon, you're sorry for interrupting...you're Robert Plant!'"
Two years on the road is going to leave some rash.
Just seeing the devastation . . .
If your car was broken down he'd be the first guy there with a screwdriver and a wrench.
OLP LINKED TO THE WEB
Mike Turner -- OLP's "resident web-head" -- is the band's link to its new website (http//www.Ourladypeace.com). While the rest of the crew naps or plays cards on the tour bus, he taps away at his laptop.
Boot it up and this is what you'd find.
1. Sound Forge 4.0 (sampler/digital audio manipulator)
2. Cake Walk Pro-Audio (sequencing package/digital recorder)
3. Netscape (Internet cruiser)
4. Eudora (e-mail)
5. Trumpet News (music newsgroup)
6. Windows '95
7. Arnold Palmer's Links LS ("Which rocks!")
8. Doom ("Yeah, I play Doom a lot. Not that it's become an obsession like it has for some people.").
9. Tour Schedule
10. Time Manager
While touring Naveed, Maida suffered a spinal herniation that led to some show cancellations, including one in Calgary.
"That was a bad one in Calgary," the singer recalls in a telephone interview.
"I couldn't move. Pinched nerve.... I went and got a steroid epidural in my back and it fixed me up.
"Now I'm taking care of myself. I started to do yoga and I've meditated quite a bit."
Plus, Maida adds, he has been playing more guitar lately and curtailing the manic stage antics that stress his back.
"It kind of keeps me a little more straight, being at the mike and not being able to run around and be as crazy as I guess I was," he says.
But Maida and his bandmates are still creative, as Clumsy proves. This explorative, innovative recording retains the exotic rhythms of Naveed, while displaying increasingly acrobatic vocals and elaborate harmonies.
"We took a lot of time experimenting. The album was really done in three months. We took another two months to really go back over stuff and re-rerecord.
"It's neat to look back and know the extra time we took was important to the record."
Clumsy marks the recording debut of a new bass player, Duncan Coutts, who replaced Chris Eacrett.
"Duncan plays keyboards and he sings, so there are a new more harmonies. We tried cello in a few songs because (Duncan) played, but it didn't seem to fit," Maida says.
However, Our Lady Peace seemed to be a perfect fit for both Robert Plant/Jimmy Page and Van Halen; both acts had OLP open concerts for them.
The Van Halen dates were particularly memorable for Maida, as they were among the last shows VH played before parting ways with singer Sammy Hagar.
"Eddie (Van Halen) would often be in our dressing room hangin' out -- as would Alex (Van Halen) and Michael Anthony. But Sammy Hagar is a different cat, you know.
"Eddie's there three hours before soundcheck playing his guitar onstage ... whereas Sammy's a little more involved with having his own limo. It didn't seem he was in it for the music as much as the Van Halen brothers were."
EDMONTON -- Our Lady Peace's Raine Maida isn't the most agreeable front person.
In fact, the singer can be downright nasty -- he swears, he spits, he knocks stuff over -- during the band's live shows.
But during the band's recent string of college dates in Eastern Canada, Maida has taken a different tack.
He has been apologizing to fans for the nearly four-year wait between Our Lady Peace's debut record Naveed and its sophomore effort, Clumsy, which was released this week.
"On stage I've been saying sorry a lot for the delay,'' Maida says. "It has really sucked for people in Canada ... I hate it when the bands I like take a long time between albums.''
OLP never thought it would take so long.
Veterans of only a handful of live shows, the Hamilton group released Naveed in 1993 with little fanfare and low expectations.
Success hit like a bomb. MuchMusic loved Maida's model good looks and rock radio loved Naveed's hard-driving first single, Starseed. U.S. radio soon jumped on the song and OLP hit the road.
Maida figures the band put more than 400,000 kilometres on tour vehicles over the past three years. They have opened for Van Halen, Page and Plant, Bush X, The Ramones and, last summer, Alanis Morissette.
A new bassist, 500 gigs and 500,000 albums sales later, the band got a chance to write new songs. But they soon found it wasn't working out. The delay grew.
"We were about eight months into our American tour, on the last leg, when we started to feel some pressure, like, `We better start writing. It's been a while,''' Maida recalls.
"Duncan Coutts had just joined the band (replacing Chris Eacrett) so we thought it was a good time to start. But it felt really forced.''
The group, which also includes guitarist Mike Turner and drummer Jeremy Taggart, headed to Toronto and rented a rehearsal place. The songs still didn't come.
They decided it needed a change of scenery, so members packed up and went to Coutts's cottage near Muskoka, Ont.
"We left those songs behind and started fresh, completely removed from MTV or MuchMusic or press or management. We just played music and wrote music,'' Maida says.
"Someone would wake up in the morning and pick up an acoustic guitar and they'd start writing. We were having fun again.
"And when you start enjoying something, you almost don't care if anyone's going to like it because you're getting off on it. So the pressure was totally off.''
It shows. Most of the songs written at Coutts's cottage made their way onto Clumsy.
And while much of the record is similar to Naveed -- same quiet/loud song structures, same esoteric lyrics -- Clumsy's sound, with added touches of strings and keyboards, is more evolved. The record is more solid and cohesive, too. There are several candidates for follow-up hits (Big Dumb Rocket, Let You Down, the title track) once the current single, Superman's Dead, runs its radio course.
"It's the difference between a one-hit wonder band and a band that makes records. A lot of bands in Canada, especially, are concentrating on making good records,'' Maida says.
"When we toured the States, we noticed it's not necessarily like that ... We saw all these bands that got propped up so quickly on MTV and they didn't even have a second single.''
"Seeds? Lots of nuts. I eat them," replies Raine Maida, lead singer
of Our Lady Peace, when asked
why the subject of of bird feed permeates the group's first album, Naveed.
Upon digesting his peculiar response, the band bursts into hysterical
laughter while simultaneously
exchanging glances of cosmic understanding.
But the Fellini-esque scenarios that punctuate our interview are the
least of what makes OLP unusual.
Whereas Maida, a former criminology student, possesses arresting good looks and an air of unbridled
passion, Jeremy Taggart, the band's lanky 20-year-old drummer, hides behind thick black-framed
Buddy Holly glasses and a smart ass wit. As for guitarist Mike Turner, he is impeccably well-dressed
and shockingly verbose, particularly next to Duncan Coutts, the band's chronically quiet new bass
player. To add to this strange combination, OLP decided to record its second album, Clumsy, in a
grungy studio in Toronto's west end despite the lucrative alternatives made possible by Naveed's
In 1995, "Starseed" won Best Song of the Year at the Q-107 (a Toronto
rock station) Awards and
later that same year, OLP took home three CASBY (Canadian Artists Selected By You) Awards
(staged by alternative radio station, CFNY 102.1 The Edge, also based in Toronto), for Favourite
New Artist, Favourite New Release and Favourite New Song, for the Naveed album and title song.
And their performance at last year's Junos was one of the show's highlights. In addition to bronze
status, OLP boasts a cyberarmy of militantly loyal fans who have created web sites dedicated to
interpreting Maida's lyrics. Particularly impressive is the home page, Our Lady Peace: The
Cybersatellite, at http://www.golden.net/~steinman/OurLadyPeace, where cybergurus and fans alike
surf pages upon pages of scholastic interpretations of Naveed or read dissertations on how "Starseed"
is actually based upon the book The Starseed Transmissions, by Ken Carey.
Yet, despite these easily accessible clues, Maida remains committed
to allowing his fans to interpret his
lyrics any way they wish.
"The more general and open-ended you can leave lyrics, the more people
are going to be able to take
home for themselves and put their own perceptions on them, and not be so narrow-minded because
someone is telling them specifically what you need to take out of a song," he explains, casually flipping
his leg over the side of a worn studio armchair.
As for the band's videos for songs like "The Birdman," "Starseed," "Hope"
and "Naveed," OLP has an
odd perspective for a group whose popularity has been accelerated by the almighty power of
"With songs, whatever we hear in our heads, hopefully we can get close
enough to that on tape,"
explains Maida, on the verge of adopting a conspiratorial tone. "With videos, what we see in our heads
might be difficult to present because... a director always has their own kind of movie that they want to
"But, I thought you were open to interpretation..." I ask.
"Yeah, absolutely. But umm, shit," he replies, his voice trailing off.
"See, she caught you there but I think I got ya, I think I got your
back here," chirps Turner, the band's
resident philosopher. "The video, like Raine said earlier, really reinforces a single interpretation."
However, arriving at a single interpretation of the band's persona would
be about as easy as arriving at
a single interpretation of Maida's lyrics. Whereas OLP have toured with bands as diverse as Ned's
Atomic Dustbin, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Blind Melon, 54:40, and I Mother Earth, and have
tasted success on both sides of the border, its members unanimously insist on taking a grassroots
approach to the glitz and glam of the music biz.
"We decided to come back to this studio where we've recorded everything
that we've ever written
basically, instead of going to, like, L.A. or New York or somewhere expensive... we decided to come
here and do things cheaply again, " explains Maida, proudly surveying the studio's retro decor.
"Undoubtedly, you're overwhelmed by the glamour of the facility," adds
Turner, sarcastically, echoing
my private thoughts.
"It's about music, it really is," Maida responds, guiding the conversation
back to its original course. "It's
about making a record. Fuck all the other stuff because it's not going to help you write a song."
"I don't remember reading about the making of Revolver or Sgt. Pepper
or whatever and talking about
how The Beatles were racing cars around the parking lot," adds Taggart, adjusting his glasses. "I
remember being amazed by the work ethic and the amount of time they spent on the songs."
In addition to the months OLP have spent in a claustrophobic studio
perfecting Clumsy, the band has
been steadily cultivating its ability to perform live, and art that, by its very nature, precludes perfection.
Says Taggart: "We're not a band that comes in after a gig and pats each other on the back. It's very
rare when we're sitting down and go, 'That was good.' Most of the time we get mad and don't talk to
one another for an hour and a half."
However, an hour and a half doesn't seem that long when one considers
that bass player Chris Eacrett
was permanently kicked out of the band and replaced by former film student Coutts.
"I think if Eacrett was still in the band, we'd all start to really
get insular and try to do our own things
personally and it would probably break everything up," says Taggart, with the diplomacy of a U.N.
"He kind of shat..." begins Maida.
"Shat?" interprets Taggart.
"Shit! Shit!," Turner emphatically yells, employing his skills as an English Lit major.
"...Shit on the creative spirit of the band, on what we had on the first
record," blurts out Taggart,
seemingly disinterested in the conjugation of the verb 'shit.'
As for the band's long-awaited second album, Clumsy, it dares to be
more experimental by veering in
directions that Naveed avoided. Whereas the first single, "Superman's Dead," remains true to OLP's
trademark aggressiveness, "Clumsy" begins with a more sombre piano interlude and the "Big Dumb
Rocket" cleverly blends a spectrum of emotions. "Hopefully , this album draws you in a little more,"
explains Turner, "I think the other one tried to push the listener back a little. Everything was trying to be
attacking. This one, I think, sits more at home with itself and hopefully draws people in on that."
Although the album's reflective tones are more inviting than Naveed's
power-packed anthems, Clumsy's
greatest allur rests in songs such as "4 am" which reveal the more personal aspects of Maida's psyche.
The songs seem a little more narrative and a little less obtuse, I strategically
inquire, hoping to capitalize
on an unguarded moment.
"Obtuse. And everything stops," Taggart announces, while spreading his
arms and taking a deep breath
of the studio's rancid air.
Suddenly, all four members are overcome with laughter.
"What? You like that word obtuse," I desperately ask, trying to make
sense of the band's sudden
"Have you ever seen Shawshank Redemption?" asks Taggart, sympathetically.
"No, " I reply.
"Just the way they use the word 'obtuse,'" says Maida, failing to explain
the band's unusual collective
But this kind of strange chemistry is precisely what makes OLP's music so unique in the first place.
Following the cheesy piano keyboard path on the floor of the otherwise spectacular Sony Music complex in Toronto leads to an enviable rehearsal space where Our Lady Peace has assembled to do a photo shoot. Various pieces of gear stake their claim on the place.
Clean and spacious, if not a little cluttered, the room is just one of the perks made available to Our Lady Peace when it signed with Sony back in 1993. Another is the CD manufacturing faciltity on the premises, which enabled the guys to proof the artwork for their latest album, CLUMSY, making sure the blacks didn't print purple and the yellows were the right hue.
"We drove assembly crazy," says guitarist Mike Turner, whose momentary concern is ensuring that his Mesa/Boogie amp is back from the repair shop by the end of the day, because the band heads out the next day on a warm-up tour of Canadian colleges. CLUMSY hits the streets just days later.
As Turner strums out Smashing Pumpkins chords and vocalist Raine Maida noodles on his guitar, co-manager Eric Lawrence comes in, armed with a stack of compact discs hot off the press. One by one they check it out, Maida, Turner, drummer Jeremy Taggart and bassist/keyboardist Duncan Coutts. The cover depicts a man powerlessly clutching a swing in his teeth; on the inside is his puppet alter-ego, decrepit, alone and tortured. It's what the band envisioned.
The lead single from the album, "Superman's Dead," was released before Christmas and has leapt tall charts in a single bound. CLUMSY would prove to do the same. With sales of 26,000 in the first week, the album debuted at Number 1 on THE RECORD'S retail charts, a feat matched by one other Canadian band in history, The Tragically Hip. Obviously, fans were anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new OLP album.
Upon releasing its eastern-tinged rock debut, NAVEED in 1994, Our Lady Peace toured its ass off for two-and-a-half years with everyone from Sponge and Bush to Van Halen and Page & Plant. By the time they came off the road late last summer, following a tour with Alanis Morissette, NAVEED had sold a half-million copies in North America, split evenly between Canada and the United States. Not surprisingly, after playing 500 live dates, the band had developed into a confident, adventuresome players, and the ruggedly handsome Maida into a charismatic frontman.
When the individual and group shots have been taken, the band relocates to Sony's artist lounge for the interview. No one seems the least bit offended when it's suggested that NAVEED has a homogeneous sound and that CLUMSY is by far and away a superior album. The band has learned to use space--how to be heavy without bombarding, how to be organic without being folky, and how to use synth, percussion, piano and mixing tricks to give the songs subtle nuttiness.
In one word, CLUMSY breathes. "We learned to not play," says guitarist Mike Turner. Where NAVEED came alive because of the heavy groove and most likely would not have translated simply on an acoustic guitar, the new material is built on melody--gentler in places, fierce in others, but with assorted textures which don't mask the song.
"There's a lot more dynamics (on CLUMSY) and that's
something you learn from being a live band, after 500 shows," says Maida.
"Because live, you don't have the tricks of the studio, you have to use
dynamics. That's something we became better at. We're much stronger at
songwriting now. We just wanted to open up (the parameters) even more on
this record, and having (new bassist) Duncan, who sings, plays cello and
piano, that gives us a lot of different sounds. I mean, this is about a
career," Maida adds. "It's not about selling a lot of records on the first
two and then doing solo projects." Produced once again by Arnold Lanni,
CLUMSY ranges from the melodic rock of "Superman's Dead" and "Automatic
Flowers" to the more left-field "Carnival," which threads a loop of sampled
chatter with a soldiering beat then ignites for the chorus; and "Car Crash,"
has a disturbed, lazy vocal and meandering eerie accompaniment. Only the middle eastern quality of "The Story of 100 Aisles" links this album to NAVEED. Even the lyrics are less spiritual and more personal. In essence, the entire album is about perception, how changing your thinking has life-altering potential. The idea is crystallized in the vibrant melodic pop of the title track, about decisions, and the startlingly moving "4am," about forgiveness.
"They're not as ambiguous," says Maida of the new lyrics. "It's more personal, but I'm more comfortable talking about things. The stage for me, as a singer, is such an honest medium now that I'm not scared to be myself and say the things that I want to say." Our Lady Peace paid its dues in front of discriminating eyes. Formed in 1992, they never took the DIY route by pressing an indie CD or becoming staples of the Queen St. club circuit. Instead, Raine and Turner attended a music seminar put on by CANADIAN MUSICIAN and approached producer/songwriter Arnold Lanni (Frozen Ghost, Sheriff) after he "shredded" his fellow panelists for declaring there was a formula to songwriting. "That meeting was the turning point for us," says Maida, then just two credits shy of his degree in criminology from the University of Toronto.
They booked time at Lanni's Arnyard Studios and made two demos with original bassist Chris Eacrett and some guest drummers. Lanni liked what he heard through the walls and hooked them up with his manager Robert and partner Eric Lawrence of Coalition Entertainment. "When we first started working with them, they weren't a live band," says Lawrence. "They had only played a couple of shows together, but they had great songs. One of the best things, working with a developing band, is we share in the success." Convinced of this act, they invited record companies down to see them perform in the studio, even though they didn't have a permanent drummer. The day Sony Music Canada president Rick Camilleri, vice-president of A&R Mike Roth, and director of music publishing Gary Furniss showed up was the same day the band was holding auditions, but fortunately, the label sensed the drive and talent behind these neophytes and, despite the obvious risk, offered them a deal after hearing all they had to offer--a few songs and some ideas. It was purely faith and instinct.
"The first thing that blew us away were the songs, Raine's presense and the guitar sounds and riffs that Mike had. It was more the ideas that they were generating," recalls Camilleri. "That's what really did it for us. We walked out of the studio that day and we just believed that Raine was a star. It took us all of 10 minutes to decide." Taggart, one of the guys who auditioned that day, was immediatley invited to join the group. "I was behind the glass," recalls Lanni, "and I wouldn't say a lot as they auditioned all these drummers, but Jeremy played maybe eight bars into a song and I ran into the control room and said 'this is the kid right here.'"
In the spring of '93, with the lineup solidified, Our Lady Peace officially signed to Sony in Canada, but with only three songs recorded, there was a lot of work to be done. They went into pre-production from spring right through the summer, renting a place in MIssissauga, Ontario where they would jam all day and record it on a regular cassette player. Lanni would show up every day, helping with the song arangements. Production began in the fall at Arnyard Studios and finished in January '94.
"I think we were so ignorant, that's why we weren't
intimidated," says Turner of the recording process. "We were completely
limited by our inexperience on the first record," adds Maida, "which is
fine though because NAVEED was really like our independant record. That's
what the whole plan was from the beginning. We did these first three songs
and we recorded them to a level we thought it needed to be, if we'd released
them independantly. The seven more that we had written or were writing
during the time that we got signed, we didn't feel any pressure. We just
wanted to make a smalll little record that we liked." They weren't the
only ones who liked that small little record. Containing eventual hits
"The Birdman," "Supersatellite," "Starseed," "Naveed" and "Hope," NAVEED
took off at home, and the following year was released in the U.S. on Relativity.
Spearheaded by the success of the single "Starseed," the band found itself
in the midst of a grueling six shows a week, as well as guest performances
on Conan O'Brian and the now defunct Jon Stewart Show. But as things progressed,
Eacrett wasn't cutting it. In September, he was kicked out of the band.
"It was both on a personal level and musical," says Maida. "There
were a few instances when we were trying to write on the road and the directions were so different that it was going to be really hard to make a second record." With ten days notice before another U.S. leg, Coutts, who played in a high school band with Maida back at Scarlet Heights in Etobicoke, was called in to audition. He had played with Maida and Turner at the original auditions but opted to finish school. "Two days later, they said, 'well, do you want to come on the road?'" recounts Coutts. "We had a tour booked in America, 6000-seat arenas," adds Turner with a laugh. "Yeah, by the way..." Coutts deadpans.
His presence offered a whole new dynamic to the rhythm section, says Taggart. "Chris' playing was very monotonous. Duncan's is way more melodic and tends to have more of a wavy path instead of a continuous line."
"It was weird," says Coutts, who had been playing in a local Toronto band, "because I was coming from a two-guitar oriented band; they were much different players than Mike. Mike makes up these crazy chords that I don't even think I'd ever seen a guitarist play before, so that was a different dynamic, and then stepping into a big tour was different--but these guys made it easy for me to do."
The band tried to write on the bus and at soundcheck, but when they returned to their rehearsal space and started writing together as a band again, they ditched many of those ideas. Between tours, they would book a couple of days at Arnyard and do songs off the floor. In January of '95, they rented a cottage near Bracebridge, Ontario, and Lanni carted up his Otari RADAR, preamps, microphones, samplers, keyboards and guitars to begin writing for the new album. "We started jamming along with each other every minute of the day," says Lanni, who would be producing again, "and we would have about 60 or 70 cassette tapes full of ideas that we would put on and tape the whole day; and then whenever we'd get bored with that, we'd put on our skates, go outside to the lake and have a hockey game." Recording began in March and continued on and off the rest of the year in between tours, vacations or simply a day off. It was the same studio, Arnyard, but the guys weren't the wide-eyed rookies they were on NAVEED. "They were much more focused," says Lanni, who had watched like a proud father as OLP became successful.
"I think we have a much better idea of what the studio is capable of now than before," says Turner, "but we certainly don't know as much as Arnold."
"We might not know exactly what we want, but we know what we don't want," adds Maida, "so we try a hundred things and discard the ideas we don't like. Arn just lets us make our own mistakes. At the end of the eight hours, we might go back to the original idea, but Arn never stifles our creativity. He's more like a fifth member. We just use him as a sounding board, in the same way U2 use Brian Eno. It's an amazing dynamic."
"We did so many demos and different versions of the songs," he continues. "So many colours. I think the record took longer because we were doing that, experimenting, whereas if we were to take the first version of every song, it wouldn't have been as dynamic. There's a lot of different textures on this record, compared to the other one, in terms of spaces and tempos. There's some slower stuff and there's some really, really aggressive stuff."
Lanni, the guy who lamblasted the formulaic way of songwriting at the music panel, relishes the freedom he has and gives to Our Lady Peace on CLUMSY, and textured the songs with faint gurgles, hums, sputters and grinds. "As soon as we felt that something started feeling too predictable, we mixed it. Even if it sounded abrasive or against the grain, at least it sounded fresh," he explains.
"Psycho-acoustics play a huge part in making a record. This is a grade one kind of example, but you don't hear a lot of sad songs on the banjo, you don't hear a lot of happy songs on a cello. The emotion that those instruments evoke is very important, so after a song is recorded, we wanted to surround the melody with different sound bytes without going overboard. If you didn't understand the lyrics, and all you were hearing was just the way it hits the human spirit, it has to make you feel what the singer is feeling."
For his part, Maida, whose voice both strengthened and suffered ont he road, took some lessons from Toronto vocal coach Bill Vincent prior to recording. "I was very inexperienced at the beginning and I blew out my throat," he reveals. "In the last year of touring, I had the beginning of nodes, so I had to get my shit together...to have a career."
"...or sing Rod Stewart," quips Turner. On CLUMSY, it's obvious his vocal performance has improved since NAVEED. He now uses his voice as a full instrument, veering from plaintive to dementia to rage to falsetto, adding yet more colour to the songs. "I've been able to do all those things I used to hear in my head when I was beginning in music," Maida says, "which tends to be more like those female singers with acrobatic voices. I've been able to implement that more on this record, so hopefully that'll keep happening as I get better as a singer." "...and slowly turn into a woman," cracks Taggart.
The name comes from a poem by Mark VanDoren but fans have their own
interpretations of Our Lady
"The name of the band is open to all levels of interpretation but only
if you want them to be there. The
same goes for our music, the deeper levels of meaning are there but only if you want them to be. We
aren't going to beat people over the head and tell them what our music means," said Mike Turner,
guitarist for the band.
Our Lady Peace played to a sold-out crowd at the University of Lethbridge
Zoo on Tuesday, March 4.
The other members of the band include Raine Maida, vocals, Jeremy Taggart, drums, and Duncan
Coutts, bass and keyboard.
They have gotten into some trouble because of the name of the band.
A customs officer in the United
States stopped their van and asked where they were going. It was explained they were a band, with the
proper Visa's, returning for a show. When the customs officer learned of the name of the band he got
"He was like totally serious saying that we thought it was funny making
fun of the Catholic church and
the Virgin Mary and we were like no, it is from a poem. We didn't know if he was going to let us
Their new CD is entitled Clumsy, which the band members thought had
"Everyone is bitter and angry and they have this angst nowadays, but they donÕt know what they are
angry at. When someone says something, people can tend to automatically take it as a slight but if we
say that person isn't trying to be mean, they are just a little clumsy, the word gives the inherant ability to
forgive and so we liked it," said Turner.
The band has toured and played concerts with Van Halen, Sponge, and
Bush X. Their first CD, titled
Naveed, sold half a million copies in North America alone.
Playing for a student crowd is a mixed blessing according to Turner.
Students don't always take the
music as seriously as the band would like. They are more often there to have a good time and the music
may only be a background.
They were scheduled to make an appearance in Lethbridge before but lead
vocalist, Raine Maida,
slipped a disc in his back and had to be taken to hospital in Calgary, so the show was cancelled. The
band doesn't want fame and fortune. Their highest hope is they will write a few songs that outlive the
"When you hear the Beatles singing stuff like Hey Jude and that you
know the song is just a classic and
that it will go on for much longer than the band."
The band keeps aiming higher in their music. Their next CD will be better
than Clumsy, says Turner.
Musical talent and ideas keep growing and expanding and the band will continue to evolve. The band
plays next in Louie's Pub in Saskatoon.
Muskie Mckay: The first time I heard you guys was on the Neil Young
compilation that you guys
were on you did Needle and the Damage done, did that come out before Naveed the album
Jeremy Taggart: No that was after.
MM: Because I picked that up first.
JT: That's cool
MM: You guys did an electric version of needle was that a conscious decision?
JT: Pretty much, we wanted to take the song some where else. It's pretty
hard to ruin a song like that
so we tried to take it some where a little more Our Lady Peace I guess. WE couldn't really pull it off
MM: Neil's never done it electric until this tour, he has actually started doing it electric now,
JT: Oh yeah
MM: maybe you guys influenced him.
JT: Yeah, I don't know...
MM: Did you guys have any particular reason for choosing needle over
any other song? Or was it just
a song you liked?
JT: It was one of the songs available and we said yeah we would love to do it basically.
MM: You guys covered a Beetles song on the Craft soundtrack
MM: That Beetles song is pretty obscured too.
JT: Oh yeah It was one of the first songs they did that took them a little bit outside their realm.
MM: It's not exactly "Day Tripper"
MM: I was looking at the liner notes to Craft ( the Soundtrack) and
I noticed your new bass player
was on that one. Was that one of the first times you had your new bassist with you?
MM: I found out on the web, that your old bassist left in September
of 95, was that amicable both
JT: No it was very much a... it wasn't working, we started writing for
the new record. Things were
really strange, it started getting like three against one for everything. He was starting to get... you know
Chris was a very... keeps to himself, it became kinda almost a really selfish situation. We couldn't, there
was no way we could write together, we could barely be in the same room together without some kind
of tension in the air. So we just had to change it you know. So that's when we brought in Duncan
(Coutts the new bassist) it's been like great ever since. It's been so awesome.
MM: You guys got signed to a label and it was a major label, after hardly
any shows together, it said
something like 12 in your bio, how did you manage to do that? And do you have any advice to new
JT: Yeah, I think what happened, the biggest thing that helped us was
having a strong collection of
songs to play before we started doing the indie live circuit. Rather then going out their with nothing. I
mean we weren't the strongest live band at that point. So if we had bad songs and we were crappy live
we were destined to fail. So we worked on the songs, and put a tape together you know thinking we
were just going to sell it side stage as an indie band. We were totally ready to go that way. It got into
the hands of some labels in America. It started a little bit of a war, you know a bidding thing or
something. Then Sony up here was probably was the most... they offered us creative control and stuff
like that. So basically Naveed is an indie record, it was the first record we did.
MM: Yeah it doesn't sound too commercial, it has like a different sound to it.
JT: Yeah, We were very lucky to have that control and we still do. That's
why we decided to go with
them and obviously we were just very lucky to get signed so fast.
MM: Naveed was out for a while and you guys were touring and stuff,
but it didn't seem to really to
get popular at least among people I knew until the Naveed single came out
MM: That video seemed to get really heavy rotation on Much Music
MM: It was a pretty cool video. Who did you film it with? Who thought up the concept?
JT: We did the last four videos we did was with George Vale. We have
always had a lot to do with
the concept of those videos. Naveed was the probably only one, where we said "we wanted to
perform live." We did a show, a small show with some fans and we would play a song, a few songs
then do Naveed, then play a few more songs. It was really fun for us, just to be able to.. it was very
relaxing. And we just told George do what ever you want to do with the other stuff. In the end it came
out pretty good. We have done four videos with him. And Superman's dead was the first video we
co-directed with him. We were more involved. I think now we are trying to go somewhere else.
MM: It was around then that you got you 'Page and Plant' opening and
then Van Halen, and then over
the summer you opened for Alanis. Obviously playing for a larger audience helped you guys out a lot.
But did you guys enjoy being the opening band and not the main reason people came to the show.
JT: We don't care. As long as people are listening and interested we
don't care. I don't think it's a
situation were we are worried. We are pretty honest people we don't get on a high pedestal or
MM: Could you maybe relax a bit more, when you weren't the main focus of attention?
JT: Yeah it's a lot easier to just do your thing. And at the same time it's harder to try and...
MM: Win over an audience?
JT: Yeah It's very easy to go into a place when you know everybody is
pumped and wants to hear you
and have a better show because your interacting with the audience. Where as when we were on the
Van Halen tour it was a battle all the time to get the audiences attention and to listen. So that made us a
better band and when we came back to our own fans it was like wow you know!? They were that
much more... I guess in touch with what we were doing because we putting so much energy forth.
Because we were so used to playing to crappy audiences that didn't care.
MM: Do you guys very your set list a lot between shows or do you plan
it out for the tour and stick
JT: What's that?
MM: Do you vary your set list a lot between shows?
JT: A bit, we vary it a bit. But every song has a little bit of improvement
in there. There are some songs
where we just take breaks in the song or extend parts. Where we have an opportunity to get out any
ideas we have or have to get out. We are that kind of band where if we did the same thing over and
over it would get kind of stagnant. And you know we would start getting bored. We have a lot
opportunity to release that energy which is really important I think.
MM: Obviously you are touring in support of your latest release Clumsy,
but will you have any
surprises in your set like a cover. like the Beetles cover or another cover.
JT: Yeah we are still doing the Tomorrow never knows cover.
MM: Not a lot of people know that (song). I played it on my radio show,
and anyone I talked to
never even knew it was on the Craft (sound track) I found it out from some magazine.
JT: Yeah that's cool. The movies horrible.
MM: Yeah I haven't seen the movie. The sound track is all right.
JT: It (Tomorrow never knows) opens up the movie, like the credits, it's a terrible movie.
MM: I was talking to some people who had never heard of you. And they
asked me what you sound
like. I had a difficult time describing your sound. How would you guys describe your sound?
JT: I think labels come from people who want to find something in a
record store you know. I think all
we are is just a modern rock band that are trying to keep good songs and to keep them fresh. Trying to
make something that will stand the test of time hopefully you know.
MM: I couldn't put it into words very well either. And then some girl
asked what bands you were
similar to and another guy not me suggested "I Mother Earth" who you've toured with. Do you guys feel
you have any similarities to "I Mother Earth"? I didn't agree with that.
JT: Three syllables in our names.
MM: Yah cause I didn't feel you were very similar at all.
JT: Four syllable band that's it. I don't know.
MM: That was in the ticket line for your show.
JT: We have a lot of the same fans. Just because we have played together
so much. That a lot of their
fans are our fans, and our fans are their fans so... We're good friends and stuff so I don't know.
MM: What bands and records have you been listening to lately, anything in particular?
JT: I'm listening to... as a band I think we all really like the last
Tool record. We like a... It's been
pretty slow. It's been a bad few years for records. There has been a lot of crap records. We like the
last Jeff Buckly record, Ben Harpers record... Then there are just songs you know that we like
collectively, but there have been so many bad records they have been coming out with one good song
and the rest is just crap.
MM: Clone bands?
JT: Yeah I don't know there seems to be to many of those kind of one
hit wonder things going on.
Where as you buy the record. Were just the same as everyone else you know we love music and we
love to buy records. Just like when we were kids and we listen to Zeppelin records and every song is
great. And you buy this record by say some band and it's like a song you heard on the radio that you
liked. And you buy the record and you hear that song and the rest is just filler you know. I don't know
what the hell... Work ethic is kind of gone in the toilet.
MM: You guys are on tour right now, and I found out it's like an all
university tour. Who's idea was
JT: I think it was basically our idea that we wanted, necessarily wanted
to do a college tour and keep it
small. This is what like 200 people.
MM: 300 maybe... And tickets were gone in like 35 minutes.
JT: Yeah we are just trying to polish up our show. And play in front
of smaller audiences. Keep it
more intimate and get more of a feel for the new record and stuff like that. I think it is great for us. We
have had a lot of fun so far. And we are getting better everyday and the shows are getting better so it's
MM: What are your tour plans for the summer? Any possibility of seeing you on an outdoor festival...
JT: Yeah we are putting together a festival actually.
MM: Like a traveling one?
JT: Yeah and we are going cross country.
MM: Any bands your with?
JT: Right now we are working on it, you know there are going to be a lot of Canadian bands on it.
MM: I have "Roadside Attraction" written down here. I'm not sure if
there is going to be a "Roadside
Attraction" this year.
JT: I think... Yeah there is.
MM: That was mainly Canadian bands.
JT: Yeah it's similar to that, but it will be more of our kind of thing
that we have been doing. I don't
know we'll see how it goes. I don't know.
MM: Supposedly like about two years ago you played a gig at Harpo's? Do you remember that?
JT: Yeah we played there like four times.
JT: We played the Forge twice.
MM: Wow, The Forge is a crappy venue.
MM: The ceiling is so low. They have remodeled it and renamed it. I
saw the Odds there it is not a
MM: Oh well I missed those shows. I heard about a Harpo's show but never got there.
JT: Yeah we played there a few times.
MM: This is sort of to deal with an incident in Kingston (Our Lady Peace
cut a show short because of
lack of crowd control barrier) What is your opinion on moshing and crowd surfing at shows?
JT: Umm, crowd surfing and moshing is fine. I mean as long as the security
staff is well informed and
know what they are doing. Cause a lot of the time you'll get... just because people are strong they think
they can become security or staff people or whatever or crew. And they tend to just... there is a right
way and a wrong way to be a security (staff at the) front. I mean in the pit. You get people pushing kids
back rather then keeping the flow of surfers on and off the crowd. And you get people that are you
know jock no-neck like losers who absolutely couldn't care less about the kid and there just there to
try and hurt people and get there kicks like that. But we have had both situations where you know, but
usually it's pretty cool and the guys (security staff) know what they are doing, and they are really
supportive. And they know that it's for the kids. I don't care how many times they are getting kicked in
the head. That's their job and it is supposed to be fun for the kids. Well not kids, just the fans or
whatever. So if people are being losers about it we'll stop and try and fix the problem but usually they
MM: I mentioned the university tour which I think is a cool idea, it's
more of your fan base then say a
big arena. I mean not arena, but younger fans.
JT: I think it's just more intimate. A smaller version of what we are about.
MM: And then I understand you released a live CD to just you fan club
and did a special show in
Toronto for fan club only. So obviously you care about your fans. But what do you think about bands
that treat there fans like crap?
JT: I think it's just lazy bands you know. There are lot of lazy bands.
There are lot of bands that could
just care less about their fans and stuff like that. We try and keep them informed and keep them on top
of what's going on. I mean it is very difficult because , if your playing and your recording and doing
shows you have to still keep an eye on what's going on. And get your info and fan letters going. What
was good about the radio show was that it was across Canada on every radio station pretty much and
we could kind of get in touch with what was happening.
MM: People could call in?
JT: Yeah an open forum radio show.
MM: I only have two questions left after this. One of them is kind of
an oddball question and the other
is about guitars and seeing as your the drummer.
JT: Ahh I could probably help you.
MM: I was just reading your liner notes and I noticed it said exclusively
used Mesa Boogie amps,
NHT speakers and Gibson guitars... I wondered... it also said about the drums Zildjian cymbals.
JT: Ayotte, Zildjian, all that stuff, Keplinger
MM: Is that a sponsoring?
JT: It's companies we endorse, that we use. Were not getting money from
them, we are just getting
gear from them. But those are the companies we like to use. I use Greg Keplinger snare drums, he's a
guy from Seattle that makes drum for like Mack Cameron and Alvin Jones and stuff like that. He's
great, he makes great drums Ayotte drums are great. It's just stuff we use. For Zildjian cymbals and for
Mike (the guitarist) Gibson guitars these are things as kids growing up listening and playing music.
These are things we wanted to use and the fact that we can use them is just kinda cool. These are
companies we like.
MM: So as the bands gotten bigger you have replaced your old equipment and gotten newer stuff?
JT: Along the way, we done stuff here and there yah. But the more you
play, and we are musician so
any money we get tends to go to musical instruments. The fact is, the funny thing is when I first starting
out I couldn't afford it. Now that I can afford gear, you don't have to pay for it anymore. That's the
weirdest part. I don't understand that.
MM: The last questions is really odd ball, it is what's your favorite brand of beer.
JT: Ahh, I don't drink beer.
MM: At all?
JT: I don't drink at all. I don't think anyone really drinks.
MM: The entire band is dry?
JT: We don't do that.
MM: That was my friend Dave's question he wanted me to ask it.
JT: The road manager likes Labatts I think. That's the closest your gonna get.
"Have you seen the movie QUIZ SHOW? Remember the father of Charlie Van Doren- Mark Van Doren? Well, he was a poet in that era [1950's] and he wrote a post-war poem called OUR LADY PEACE. We went with it," espouses Raine Maida, lead singer and songwriter for Toronto's musical, poetry-reading unit, Our Lady Peace. "We all read it and took something different from it, and that's the sense we want from the music," adds Mike Turner, OLP's guitarist, in a way finishing Raine's thought for him. Mike and Raine have that sibling/spousal knack of complementing each other's ideas and finishing each other's sentences on a noticable scale.
Our Lady Peace has barely taken off the oven mitts off since baking the 11-piece pie that is its sophomore album, CLUMSY. An anomaly to begin with, OLP turned heads in 1994 not so much for its driving rhythm section and driven singer as for the fact that the band appeared out of nowhere to become an overnight staple in the MuchMusic diet. The debut album, NAVEED, spawned four constant-rotation singles in a stunning coup for the unknowns. Reflecting on the genesis of the band, conversation began with the seed that became the group's moniker.
Occasionally confusing a radio announcer or two who assumes the band name denotes a religious affiliation, OLP has run into a coulpe of humourous situations. Right around the time the band was signed to Sony Music Canada, Raine received some mail for "Our Lady of Peace Memorial Gardens" cemetery.
"We were, like, 'This doesn't bode well!'" says Mike, but the eerie mistake doesn't seem to have had any adverse effects on OLP's career. Raine still hasn't opened the letter, though.
And once, when crossing the border back into the U.S. at Detroit, the guys were accosted by a FALLING DOWN-like character who chastised them for seemingly making fun of the Virgin Mary.
"I thought he was going to pull out his gun and shoot us," laughs Mike. "This guy was (a) bitter hateful man. We were just sitting there quaking! 'Actually, no sir! It's not like that at all! It's a poem!'"
Obviously the customs officer hadn't been listening to the local modern rock station or he would have been humming "Starseed" as the van pulled up. Our Lady Peace has the distinction of being one of the only Canadian bands to sell more records in the U.S. than in Canada, a feat that surprised most people, including the band.
Formed mere hours before thay were signed, Raine, Mike, drummer Jeremy Taggart and bassist Chris Eacrett (replaced in 1995 by Duncan Coutts) had sought the help of a friend (Terry Sawchuk) to engineer a three-song demo that could be shopped around to labels.
"Our intention as to mix it better, fix up a few things, record some more tracks and have a little indie cassete," Mike elaborates. 'But we got signed to a recording company. What were we supposed to do? Say, 'Oh no! We want to do our indie record first!' It was like we were still doing our indie record, but someone else was paying the bills."
But because it is virtually unheard of to make a demo that gets a band signed without having slugged it out on the live scene for a while, many people didn't "buy" it. Skeptics, including much of the media, alluded to OLP being a pre-packaged commodity brought together and molded by one Arnold Lanni. Lanni, an ex-member of both Sheriff and Frozen Ghost, owns Arnyard studios where the foursome had gone to record with Terry Sawchuk.
"Arnold owns this studio and he was just renting it out to us. He'd just kind of poke his head in and see how we were doing, if we liked the place, if everything was fine," Raine says.
"Like a waiter, half-way through a meal: 'Is everything O.K.?," adds Mike. The sporadic encounters led to Lanni poking his head in more often and making comments that floored the band members.
"He's more aware of our music than most of (our) friends," exclaims Jeremy. "It's awesome. That's why we're still with him," Mike states. Lanni produced CLUMSY at the same studio where the OLP saga first took shape. The guys consider Lanni a fifth member of the band, who lets them roam around his recording console in the same manner that they let him pick up a guitar and experiment with a riff. But he's no George Martin ( who controlled almost all the Beatles' early career decisions). One live show will convince anyone that Lanni is not behind the scenes pulling puppet strings.
"PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!" Mike booms out across the room, mocking the idea. "It's very much just five guys who hang out and make music together." And the music they made together sent them far higher up the charts than anyone had anticipated, in Canada and the States. The proof of the band's appeal was that completely differnet singles propelled the album in the two countries. Finally honing their collective chops by playing live as much as they could, the third Canadian single, 'Naveed," pushed sales of the first album here beyond platinum in less than half the time it took to go gold.
As Raine relates it, "We toured the country, like, five times. We'd developed a really strong live grassroots following. I mean we were proud of it..." "Cause we worked really hard to get it!"Mike finishes. "In a world where videos can do so much to propel a band so far, this was definitely something that we felt we achieved on our own just by touring really hard. Every time we (went) back to clubs, there were just more and more people," Raine enthuses.
The band's American success is a story with the same moral but a substantially different set of circumstances. The song "Starseed" took of at radio as the first American single, with stations playing it BEFORE the album was even pressed to be shipped there.
"In the States was the most incredible thing!" Raine emphasizes. "It was so honest and genuine because instead of going with Columbia or Epic in the States, we went with a label called Relativity, [which] was mostly rap. [It was] just opening up its rock or alternative department. It put [the record] out as a cassette just to some radio stations and people got really hyped on that song. They started playing it from cassette! They didn't have a picture of us, they didn't know any history about the band. They liked it just for the song."
It would be nice to think all radio stations worked that way... Mike agrees. "Ultimately, if you have good songs, you stand as much chance as anyone. You can't make uo for that."
"The people really liked the song. It wasn't because of any media explosion. Obviously, with the things that happened with "Starseed," it does perk people's ears up," says Raine, referring to Canada perhaps taking even more notice of OLP after NAVEED"s buzz Stateside.
"There's a validation that comes from the States sometimes," muses Mike. "But it's exciting because at least there are no rules," Raine interjects. "Even if you have good songs, there are so many different paths you can take with them. Look at Veruca Salt, what they did with their record, you know, Minty Fresh Records." "Garbage on Alamo Sound--That's one of the biggest records of last year 'cause it's got a lot of good songs on it," Mike points out. "You can't stop good songs. Now it doesn't matter if you're on a label that doesn't have much promotional ability. If you've got a good album, good songs and a band that can support it, you stand as much chance of success as the guy with the big label."
Speaking of songs...NAVEED caused the label "alternative" to be flung at Our Lady Peace enough times that it stuck. CLUMSY isn't going to do much to change that. The new album takes the OLP boat out on the same waters, but the waves are coming in differently this time. A bit edgier that in the last record, Mike's guitar experiments in wider circles this time out. A host of sounds are created by his one instrument just on the album closer, "Car Crash," with sonic axe leaps that might just make one think of treble charger. Then there's the Smashing Pumpkins feel to a coulpe of numbers, and the nuances of Soundgarden fury, all couched, though, in what could only be an Our Lady Peace record. And although several tracks begin in a mellow manner, don't be fooled--everything winds up and kicks into high gear eventually. There are no Bic-lighter-friendly ballads on CLUMSY.
"There's no formula for the way we write," Raine offers. "It's just what comes out at the time. I mean, if anything, it's honest. Maybe we could be more successful if we wrote the ballads..." he ponders gamely. "Most of the songs ARE almost ballads because a lot of them started on this record from acoustics." Pointing to Jeremy, Mike remarks, "As soon as HE starts hitting everything, it's like, 'Oh jeez! He's at it again!'"
"Yeah, we've gotta turn up a notch when Jeremy comes in," jokes Raine. Finding it hard to concentrate on writing new material while on the road--and the band was on the road for over two years for NAVEED--the boys trooped up to Duncan's cottage to sequester themselves for the writing of the new album. "It was a neat vibe," says Raine. "It was all music. Someone would wake up in the morning and you'd walk out of your bedroom..."
"...and I'd be sitting there playing with an acoustic guitar," Mike finishes. If NAVEED meant "bearer of good news," the new album's title suggests the entire tone of the record in terms of lyrics. The light at the end of the tunnel that was suggested on the first album is only half there on CLUMSY. A song's protagonist will proffer care and shelter, while at other times, he waves while someone drowns ("Clumsy"). Words like "stumbling," "shaking," "trembling," "dumb," and "jaded" surface repeatedly to summon the dark aura that pervades even the insert photos of antique dolls alone in their torture.
"Yeah, I think it's just a different perspective this time," Raine concedes. "Instead of having to have that subconscious glimmer of hope, as there was in NAVEED, I think 'clumsy' just typifies the whole record in the sense that it's a word that's forgivable."
"You can be destructive with out being malicious
if you're clumsy," Mike clarifies. "With the problems that I encounter,
they're obviously not unique. Everyone goes through he same things I go
through, so I think 'clumsy' was just a word that would give those problems
the benefit of the doubt and then enable you to get through them rather
than seeing them just from one perspective [like], 'O.K., it's bad. It's
not going to change from being bad.' Because things DO change. People change,"
Raine explains. "It's really honest.The lyrics really match the song in
that there are a lot of different colours and stuff, just as [with]
personalities. Especially mine. I'm very..."
"Oh no! He's not bi-polar at ALL!" Mike drawls
in a sarcastic tone. "I'm pretty strange, so it's either yes or no. I go
through, 'I don't want to talk to you anymore' or 'You know what? I can
see what's really wrong with you underneath, even though you won't tell
me.' That's 'Clumsy.' That's: 'You will be safe in here.' More compassion...[that's]
my resolution," Raine divulges. Raine Maida's 1997 resolution: more compassion.
"Raine only makes resolutions by the week because he's so extreme," Mike
quips. And perhaps this new-found compassion would have come in handy last
year while OLP was out on tour with Van Halen. Not only did the band secure
enviable opening slots on American tours with Sponge and Letters to Cleo,
but Robert Plant heard "Starseed" on the radio and invited the boys on
the road to open for Page and Plant, while Van Halen's
management requested them for a string of dates, too. But playing to full stadiums isn't necessarily an easy task, especially when the crowd is there to see the headliner and doesn't care who's opening. Raine found the constant jeering from the crowd to be a tad trying to his patience, and "made the mistake of profanely cussing out 20,000 people," as Mike puts it, one night on the Van Halen tour.
"Sammy Hagar wanted to kick us off the tour for, like, two weeks," admits Raine, "which I don't even know was something I necessarily did. I think credit goes back to us now, where people thought Our Lady Peace was going to get kicked off the Van Halen tour and all the big agencies were talking about it in America. I think we look good again because Sammy Hagar is not in the band. They realize it was just him." Page and Plant audiences turned out to be far more accepting at OLP, being more broad-minded about new music than, say, the average Van Halen fan. Raine surmises, "The kind of people that are brought up on Sammy Hagar's cheesy lyrics aren't going to want to listen to..."
"Yeah, Raine doesn't sing 'baby' once!" Mike throws in. Thank God for that. OLP stays true to its abstract lyrics and complicated tales of true life as Raine sees it on the new album. There isn't one simple song on there. "That's just the way I write. It's all in protest to Sammy Hagar!" he chuckles. "Raine is trying to set the scales of the universe back in balance. Sammy tipped them way over to one side," Mike laughs.
Acknowledging the fact that playing stadiums so early in their collective careers was quite a lesson in how to perform, the members of OLP are thankful they had the opportunity to do it, regardless of having to watch Hagar do solo acoustics. "I think all three of those tours, as big as they were, in grandiose big arenas...there's always positive that you can take from those things, no matter if you don't really gel with the music as much as you might want with other bands, smaller bands," Raine contemplates aloud. "I wouldn't give it up for the world because it made us able to write CLUMSY. And I think CLUMSY would of been a much different record if we hadn't done those things."
"You're a product of what you've gone through," Mike picks up the thread of thought, "and the experiences we've had in the last two years are what shaped CLUMSY. Good, bad or indifferent, they're all part of what brought us to where we are. I don't think you can hear any of Edward [Van Halen] in my playing now, and that's fine, but I was inspired by it."
OLP was also inspired by Van Halen's work ethic. The party-excess life of the '80's is nowhere to be found in Van Halen's members now, and OLP could relate to that. "We're NOT nuts!" was Mike's reaction to the more conservative after-show habits of the stars he shared the stage with. "I couldn't imagine being hung over three days in a row and having to play that night. I have no interest in that whatsoever." "It's just our personalities," Raine chimes in. "And that's why this band works. The dynamic of this thing is so neat because our focus is completely on writing good songs and that's it. Everything after is only to get to that level, that hour every night, where you can play those songs really well." And for anyone who still has doubts? "Just come and see us play live," says Mike.
The shrewd co-ordinator of the session offers a skirting reply. "We'll talk about it after we're done."
Halfway into the shoot, the band is noticeably comfortable with the photographer and begin clowning around. Bassist Duncan Coutts dons a fuzzy pink mad-hatter three times the size of his head, causing everyone in the shop to crack up. The mood is light and good-natured.
"Is that Our Lady Peace?" A troupe of fans enters the store after recognizing the fellows reclined in the front window display. The band finishes the last of the poses and happily obliges the autograph seekers, producing shrieks of delight. After this modicum of excitement, we reconvene at a pub across the street, where the group's most outgoing member, guitarist Mike Turner, justifies the afternoon of smiling for the camera. "It's part of the gig, really. In order to do what we do, we sort of have to do that as well. Take it for what it's worth."
So what is it these lads do when they're not saying cheese? Well, by all industry accounts, they make extremely popular music. Our Lady Peace's 1994 debut, NAVEED, sold 500,000 copies--a staggering number for a CD Turner describes as "something we wanted to have to sell side-stage at our gigs."
The wonderful tale of Our Lady
Peace begins with Maida and Turner, who met each other the way most folks
nowadays--through an ad in the classifieds. The pair started auditioning musicians and, like most endeavours in the group's short history, they got results. Jeremy Taggart, whose frame and frames qualify him as a Buddy Holly stunt double, is the band's first and only drummer. Coutts, their current bassist, was the first they heard and liked, but the studious bottom-ender opted for school and returned to finish his degree. So, for the first year and change, Chris Eacrett filled the position. Unlike Ringo's predecessor, though, the bassist got a second chance when "personal differences" resulted in Eacrett's departure. This begs the question: Did Coutts suffer a case of the Pete Best Syndrome watching Our Lady Peace's stardom rise? Coutts nods. "I think the bombardment of NAVEED was a personal torture," he says. "I guess it was the two months in the summer of '95, you'd turn on the radio and hear the song 'Naveed,' you'd turn on MuchMusic and see the video."
A rapid ascension to 'signed' status followed. Maida says, "We did a demo, did another demo. Sony heard one of them, liked it..."
"And gave us a record deal," Turner concludes. "It sounds very trite almost, but that's what happened."
The band willingly concedes the role of good luck, but rightly note the six tours of Canada and two jaunts across the United States in their beloved Ford one-ton. Hundreds of gigs later, including opening dates with Page & Plant, Van Halen and Alanis Morissette, the luck factor fades from the picture. Now, with their second album, CLUMSY, just released, Our Lady Peace is one of the hottest acts in a wave of great Canadian bands that includes I Mother Earth, Moist and current OLP tourmates, Change of Heart.
For youngsters in the rock game, the success of an album largely hinges on the group's ability to deliver their material live. Having established a reputation for doing this in spades, Maida rattles the ice in his glass, takes a sip of his chosen beverage and cites their first inspiration, I Mother Earth. An easily enthused Turner jumps in again. "The first time we toured live," Turner says, "it was with I Mother Earth, and they were just tearing the place apart--every night! And we're just like, "Wow, do we ever have to work hard."
After months on the road together, Our Lady Peace not only became good friends with I Mother Earth, they found themselves as musical peers looking to climb the next rung. A soft-spoken Taggart points to supporting Page & Plant as a significant leap in that direction. Then there was opening for Morissette, followed by a Rage Against The Machine show that sent Turner reeling: "We went and saw Rage Against The Machine, and that was so inspiring it was almost sickening. But I don't think we could say there's one band that inspires us, and that's it. We're music fans, like everyone else."
While recording, Our Lady Peace gains a fifth member of sorts. Back when Maida and Turner were in the studio working on their first demos, they stumbled into a relationship with their producer-to-be. A unanimous expression of trust and allegiance fills the room at the mention of Arnold Lanni. Maida explains: "Arn came in as the owner and wanted to know if we liked the studio. We developed a friendship, and all of a sudden he was poking his head in, saying, 'I like those songs.' It just developed from there."
With CLUMSY, the band's goal was to make an album where each song could stand on its own. Each member beams confidently regarding their sophomore release. This self-assurance is a reflection of the quality approach in the Canadian music scene today. "The Canadian bands that are making it right now are making great records," Maida contends. "There are a number bands in the States and world-wide that have been propped up on one single, who sell millions of records then go away, 'cause after that one single, there's no depth on the record. I think a few Canadian bands have got it down to being like the old days. They're building a career on great records."
Throughout the 11 songs on CLUMSY, Maida's lyrics appear critical of both worldly and personal interests. The tragic life scenarios of the record's title track and the closing song, 'Car Crash,' exemplify Maida's fascination with frustration, yet an unspoken desire for positive resolution lingers between the lines. 'Superman's Dead,' the first single, exemplifies this constructive criticism. In today's world it's not just ordinary people who need spiritual cruthces, cosmetic surgery and a red cape. Even Superman wasn't good enough, so they killed him in order to reincarnate him as a better, more stylish Man Of Steel.
It's clear Our Lady Peace has a mandate to focus on music. But marketing an image, through videos and photo shoots, is part of the business of being in a successful rock band and must be dealt with. Maida sits up in his chair and his voice takes on a serious tone. Just the mention of the word "video" brings back a dreaded memory of the group's first experience in the medium. The band was going over treatments from different directors for their song 'The Birdman,' when they came upon one which shocked them. "We were sitting around reading and everyone's looking around at each other like 'What the hell is this? This has nothing to do with the song,'" Maida recalls, "so we completely discarded that one. Two months later it ends up that we see that exact video with another song--the exact same treatment! It's obvious this director just wanted to get his mini-movie out, regardless of the band or the song."
The interview concludes with thanks all around. As Coutts rises from his seat, he mentions haggling the sweater he wore in the boutique spread. "I asked for the slightly used price," he says. "No deal!"
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO RECORD 'CLUMSY'?
"Seven months. After the basis of the song is down we just sit
around and try to take it other places. First, we push the boundaries until
you finally settle on something and it takes a lot of time, which is why
I think this record came out later than it should have. It's been two and
a half years since 'Naveed' but the result is that you're happy with
every song. There's so many possibilities when you're talking about gear
and stuff that you almost have to put a deadline like whatever is the best
by this time we're gonna have to go with it. And with Arn everything is
secondary to the song. I don't think you can make a bad song become a good song by making it sound good. You're still going to have a crappy song that just sounds good. I can see why U2 takes a year to record a record. When you're experimenting you could be in there for years."
WAS CLUMSY A HARD ALBUM TO MAKE?
"Yes, initially we were putting pressure on each other to do something better than 'Naveed'. During preproduction we had written about four or five songs and our producer just came out to rehearsal to hear the progress we had made and he could just sense that we weren't happy doing it where we were. We ended up renting a little cottage north of Toronto and isolating ourselves there for six weeks and that's where we wrote the record. It was much more positive. You're sleeping in a cottage together with instruments everywhere. If someone wakes
up at four in the morning there's an acoustic right beside you. It was really healthy that way. We wanted to instill the spirit of 'Naveed' on this record as well where the best idea wins. No egos, no record company pressure, we're not watching MTV or Much Music or listening to radio even. It was just about four guys trying to write twelve songs."
IS ARNOLD LANNI LIKE THE FIFTH MEMBER OF THIS BAND?
"Completely. He's a brilliant man. The whole thing that precipitated this relationship in the first place on the first record was that we'd be sitting in rehearsals doing arrangements and the relationship just got so close that he'd just give up an idea in those sessions. We were sitting there going, 'That's a really good idea, let's use it.' We love the guy as a friend and as a producer and we had the upmost respect for him so we had no problem of letting him be a part of the band so it's worked well. It's a very unique relationship and we hope it continues for a long time. It works the opposite way now too in that he let us have our way on some of the productions. He's just like that, whatever's best is what we chose to do."
THERE'S A HAUNTING PRODUCTION TO 'CLUMSY'.
"On this record we wanted each song to have it's own vibe. With 'Carnival' we had the weird carnival noises. With 'Clumsy' it orginally started off acoustically and it didn't have as much impact as we wanted it to. It didn't set enough of a mood. So that piano was just recorded regular and Arn has this fancy maching that he twirls. We were all sitting on the couch putting the piano through all these different effects thinking what could we do and then Arn started turning this one wheel and that was it."
RAINE, WHY DON'T YOU LIKE TALKING ABOUT YOUR LYRICS?
"It's not that I don't want to talk about it but whatever I'm speaking about I don't think the problems are that unique. I'd rather leave people to put their own perception on the song. Everytime you really connect with a song it's because you feel it's about you or something that's involved in your life so I'd rather not jade people as to what I'm really speaking about."
BREAK THE RULE FOR US AND EXPLAIN THE LINE IN 'CLUMSY', "I'LL BE WAVING
HAND, WATCHING YOU DROWN".
"It's like I said before, it's just about perspective. At different times of the day you see the same things differently. It's just about standing back sometimes trying to really see what's happening and get to the heart of whatever it may be. It's important to be analytical about things. i think sometimes people are a little temperamental or judgemental. Sometimes the energy you have stored up in your body comes out the wrong way and you have to be aware of the things you say to people and the way you view your problems. That's the whole 'watching' thing. You can see someone and they might appear to be waving you good-bye and you can walk away and they'll end up drowning, or you an see it from a different perspective and see that they are drowning and they need your help and you need to jump in and save them."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT FOR YOU TO WRITE LYRICS?
"It's hard for me. Initially ideas come, but to express stuff and tell a story and have something that's going to connect in three minutes is hard. To try and get my lyrics to level that I can be proud of, I'm not there yet, but it's a craft and you have to work at it. it's easier to write lyrics when I'm down for some reason as you're more emotional. It's those dark moments when you look at things in a different light you tend to delve into things more. I think
these songs are less dark and more optimistic than 'Naveed'. 'Clumsy' is something that's supposed to be forgivable rather than a detriment. If you call someone clumsy then it's like it's ok. In that aspect i think it's more optimistic."
WERE THERE ANY EXTRA SONGS RECORDED THAT WEREN'T USED?
"There's a song that we were playing on the Alanis tour called 'Trapeze' that a lot of people are asking us about and it's just one of those songs that just didn't fit into the whole tone about what 'Clumsy' was supposed to be. We're all really happy with the song so I think we'll release it on a B-side, and there are a couple more kinds of songs that we have lying around. We're talking about doing an extensive CD-Rom and throwing those tracks on."
DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE BEING THE NUMBER ONE ROCK BAND IN CANADA?
"If you start pinning your hopes on those types of things then I think you're just setting yourself up for a pretty big let down. You always have to make music so that if no one decided to buy this record it's something that we can have in our CD collection and we'll always be proud of. If you look at it in that aspect then at the end of the session and recording you'll have something that you can defend and that's important. We'll deal with pressures as they come. There's four members so that if any egos pop up there's three guys knocking it down right away. And we're so involved in the small picture that there's no time to worry about the big picture. We're worried about making it to the next gig, if there's a soundcheck or not and getting our guitars on the airplane tonight. I'm worried about trying to sing well every night, not record sales or videos. Actually, when we look back at the last two years we think, 'Wow, we played with Led Zeppelin, that's pretty cool.' When you're going through it you don't realize it until you get a little perspective."
HOW HAS THE TOURING BEEN GOING ON THIS ALBUM?
"Right now we're in the middle of the Edgefest tour across Canada, I think there's nine shows, and we just finished a six week tour of the States in June playing clubs and radio sponsored shows. We haven't been to Europe yet but we've been in Spain for two days and there was a really positive reaction. The UK kind of sets the pace over there and the labels in Germany and France have come on board and really like the record so it's nice to see that it's genuine."
Definately not peaceful. The four-year rise to fame of Toronto's Our Lady Peace has been a loud ruckus of more than 400 live shows and the cheers of over half a million concert-goers served. For a band that signed its record deal on the strength of songs, not shows, Our Lady Peace has been busy catching up.
Since the release of its debut, Naveed, Our Lady Peace has shared the stage with acts like Alanis Morissette (at her request), Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Van Halen, Page and Plant, 54·40, and I Mother Earth, as well as keeping the fans happy with more than a few cross-country jaunts of its own.
It wasn't all work and no reward. The band swept 1995's CASBY awards winning Favorite New Artist, Favorite New Release and Favorite New Song ("Naveed") as well as Best Song of the Year ("Starseed") at the Q107 Rock Awards.
During this exciting time, Our Lady Peace recruited a new bassist to replace departing member Chris Eacrett. Duncan Coutts had actually auditioned for the band in the early days but opted to stay in school. His addition to the group (you know, singer Raine Maida, guitarist Mike Turner, and drummer Jeremy Taggart) also brought cello and piano to the mix. Plus, his family's cottage provided a nice, relaxed setting for writing the follow-up release, Clumsy
If there were any doubts that Our Lady Peace was one of Canada's most popular bands, Clumsy surely silenced them. Over 100,000 fans scooped up the disc withing a month of release, and the first single "Superman's Dead", dominated the MuchMusic charts for weeks. Of all the bands in the world, Our Lady Peace is consistently one of the most sought-out ones on the internet (Ultimate Band List puts OLP in the Top 100 request list).
For all those followers, Our Lady Peace's headligning set at Edgefest is a long-awaited one. While the band played a series of small shows for college and university campuses back in March (as a "thank you" for early support), this will be the event of the summer for fans of all ages.
"Our Lady Peace stays true to its abstract lyrics and compliccated tales of life as Raine sees it." -Chart Magazine
RUN DATA: OUR LADY PEACE
FIRST SONG YOU LEARNED TO PLAY:
Raine: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2
Mike: "Daytripper" by the Beatles
Jeremy: " Cult of Personality" by Living Colour
Duncan: " I go swimming" by Peter Gabriel
RECORD THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE:
Raine: The Lion and the Cobra by Sinead O' Connor
Mike: Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols
Jeremy: Quadrophenia by The Who
Duncan: Grace by Jeff Buckley
Fans won't have to jostle for a sightline, or brave the mosh pit for a front row spot, to see Toronto rock band Our Lady Peace perform.
After releasing countless concept videos for singles off 1994's Naveed and the current top 5 album, Clumsy, the Edgefest headliners decided to shoot a live performance video for the new single, "Automatic Flowers", -- and all four members squished into the director's chair for it.
"We've done enough videos now, especially for this album, that for this video, in Canada, we really just wanted to keep things really simple, just us in our rehearsal room," says lead vocalist Raine Maida, on the phone line from Charleston, South Carolina, where Our Lady Peace is in the midst of conquering the U.S. "So we had that concept, we wanted to include some of the artwork, and we were just sitting around talking about this and figured let's do it ourselves.
"We co-directed our `Superman's Dead' video (with George Vale). Most
of the concept came from us," he says of their credentials. "I was sitting
with George basically the whole time when we were doing the conceptual
stuff and in terms of the storyboard behind the lyrics. Sometimes, with
directors, it's a difficult task to get them to see what the band's seeing
in their head, and there's a lot of compromising going on, so for `Automatic
Flowers', just wanted
to direct it ourselves."
In fact, Maida, guitarist Mike Turner, bassist /keyboardist Duncan Coutts and drummer Jeremy Taggart were so keen on the D.I.Y. idea that they didn't even solicit treatments from other directors. They knew what they wanted -- to keep it simple. Having developed into strong players and Maida into a charismatic frontman, OLP doesn't need any flashpots and stonehenges. A rehearsal space in Toronto served as the stage, and the band gives its all, just as it had at last month's 35,000-capacity Edgefest concert at Molson Park in Barrie, Ont.
"If you essentially need that (sized crowd) to perform then you're doing it for the wrong reasons," Maida says. "So it's a pretty honest video I think that way. We didn't want a lot of edits. We didn't want something that looked really expensive. It's a very cheap video, compared to what we've been doing. It's just over $30,000. I don't even want to tell you some of the budgets we've just done. It's kind of disgusting.
"We're just really excited about doing a video that, so far, the footage we've seen has been great. It's really about people seeing us for what we are, without a lot of smoke and mirrors. It's either you like the band for what we do or you don't."
Obviously, the general consensus is that people dig what they do. The album, Clumsy, according to SoundScan figures from co-manager Eric Lawrence, has surpassed 427, 000 and counting, and its success boosted sales of Naveed to triple-platinum two weeks ago.
In the U.S., where Our Lady Peace is touring "indefinitely" -- except for a quick dip into Canada at the end of August for Edgefest west -- the first single, "Superman's Dead", is top 20 active rock and top 30 modern rock, moving up both charts.
At home, "Superman's Dead" remains on the rock chart, while the follow-up "Clumsy" is in the top 10. "Automatic Flowers" goes to rock and alternative radio next week. The self-directed video will be serviced to MuchMusic as soon as it's edited. "I just got a rough cut ," says Lawrence, "so the band has to see it, and we'll go back and forth. I would say in the next two weeks we'll get thought it."
If there's one thing that can strike fear into the heart of a band, it's the sophomore jinx.
It doesn't happen to every band, mind you; usually just the ones lucky enough to enjoy successful debut albums.
Like Our Lady Peace.
But the Toronto band -- which has sold more than 500,000 copies of its 1995 debut CD, Naveed -- seems to have bucked the trend, having already sold almost the same amount of its latest album, Clumsy, in only seven months.
"We don't feel the sophomore jinx at all with this album," says Mike Turner, Our Lady Peace's chatty guitarist in a phone interview from Tuscon, Ariz.
"But it sure makes the third album loom large. We were aware of the pressure, but we had all these other things bugging us when we were recording (Clumsy) that we didn't pay much attention to it."
Artistic differences led the band to scratch some early Clumsy demos because the members -- Turner, singer Raine Maida, bassist Duncan Coutts and drummer Jeremy Taggart -- felt the recordings weren't focused enough.
"Our producer said maybe we should get out of town, so we went up to our friend's cottage and tried to focus on the music.... When we came back to record, it just came together."
Since its release in January, Clumsy has produced two No. 1 hits, Superman's Dead, and the title track, and is working on its third single Automatic Flowers.
The video for the song is the first time OLP -- which plays Race City Speedway tomorrow as part of the one-day rock festival, Edgefest -- has sat in the director's chair.
"It's a plum simple one," Turner says of the video.
"We just wanted to be like it is in a rehearsal studio.... We're pretty pleased about it."
Since forming in 1992, Our Lady Peace has become one of the few Canadian bands that has experienced moderate success in the U.S.
Turner attributes the U.S. success to the band's willingness to tour and play smaller venues.
But playing to much smaller crowds must hard on the ol' ego, right?
"Yeah, we stick out our bottom lip and pout, `You people don't know the goods you're getting,' " he jokes.
"But there is a bit of cockiness when you can go into a club and say, `We can handle 30,000 people.' "
Although the band has enjoyed touring our Elvis-obsessed southern neighbor, Turner admits he has had a few pretty surreal experiences, including OLP's appearance on MTV's Oddsville, performing Superman's Dead.
"It's basically a Stupid Human Tricks show," he explains.
"We did the big closing number and everyone who was on the show came out.... There was a guy in a monkey suit jumping around. During the quiet part of the song, a dog started howling. I was laughing so hard. The worst thing is, it's all on tape.
"Those zany Americans, God bless 'em."
It occurred to me during Our Lady Peace's last show in Edmonton, at the Dinwoodie Lounge in February - singer Raine Maida would make a great Hamlet.
Leading his band at Edgefest in the Commonwealth Stadium tonight, the 27-year-old singer is dramatic, intense and given to dark, brooding moods with a potential to erupt into enraged violence - mostly directed against hapless microphone stands. He sings his deep, haunted lyrics as if they were almost too much for his soul to bear. The band's potent bursts of power seem to affect him like electroshock torture. He is the perfect angry young man.
At least that's how he acts on stage. During a recent phone interview, Maida is surprisingly calm. He has no problem being compared to a tragic Shakespeare character.
"Hamlet is good," he laughs. "I like that.
"I definitely put myself into a different space when I'm on stage. That's the only reason I got into music, because the people I admired and who influenced me, that was the only way I knew music."
"I remember seeing Sinead in a small club in Toronto years ago," Maida recalls. "She was able to do with an acoustic guitar what I think most bands can't do with four or five members. She just sat up there by herself and played a bunch of songs. And it was just so personal and she just gave so much of herself, I almost broke down crying. .
"That was my barometer. If you're going to go on stage and sing your own music, and, I guess, my lyrics, I just have to be completely honest. You just let yourself go with it."
As for his lyrics, they're generally no less difficult to understand than "If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, absent thee from felicity awhile and in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain to tell my story" and so on.
Maida makes his lyrics cryptic on purpose.
"They're meant to be interpreted," he explains. "I have a huge fear of being pretentious or grandstanding with my lyrics. So I try to make them a little bit more ambiguous, just to make them more universal, just so that each listener can approach it from every angle and take whatever they want from it, rather than me just sitting there telling them about my problems. They're really not that unique."
It's a fine balance, he says, between being "passionate about what I'm talking about and not giving it all away at the same time."
While he won't do it on stage or through the band's videos, he is willing to explain one of Our Lady Peace's most recent hits, Superman's Dead, from the band's latest album, Clumsy.
"It's just about how hard it is for kids to grow up today. They're inundated with the media and images and cliques they try to have to fit into. Two images that are really strong for me lyrically are `ordinary's just not good enough today,' and when I think of kids today, I would never think of a group of eight-year-olds going out to a baseball park and throwing the ball around.
"It doesn't happen any more. I have a nine-year-old brother; he's either inside playing Nintendo or staying up late on a school night watching Beavis & Butt-Head. And you juxtapose that against the old Superman, on the black and white series. He was a real hero, good values, strong willed, a gentleman, but I think Beavis & Butt-Head wins today."
At least he's taken arms against the sea of troubles and ... well, you know the rest.
Of course, the first thing the record companies wanted
to know was when they could check out the
band's live show in a venue. "We had to say, 'Look, we're not [playing shows] because we don't even
have enough songs to go play in a club,'" Maida told POLLSTAR. "So we had them come down to our
rehearsal space and watch us there. And we could only play like three or four songs. It was kind of
funny." Apparently, Sony Music Canada was more impressed than amused. The label offered the band
a deal that made the decision to sign easy. "They just really wanted to sign a young band that they could
develop," Maida said. "And they just kind of left us to our own devices and gave us complete artistic
control. That's the reason I think we ended up signing a deal so quickly."
After recording its debut album, Naveed, it was time for Our Lady Peace to pay some dues. When the
band set out to tour Canada, "It was terrible," Maida said. "I'm surprised we didn't lose our record
deal, we were so awful."
But the guys knew they had a lot of work ahead of
them and hit the road with that mindset. "Our
own tours that we did, we just kept them very low key and we just built slowly until we got more
confident. We knew that we needed to work on playing. When we signed our record deal before
recording the album, we had maybe played 12 or 13 shows." By the time Our Lady Peace had toured
Canada about four or five times during its first year on the road, Naveed was a hit in the Great White
North and the band's debut single, "Starseed," also made a good showing in the U.S. That song turned
out to be the ammunition that shot the band to a whole new level of touring. "Robert Plant heard the
song on the radio in New York and found out who the band was and contacted our agent. And like
two days later, we're in Chicago opening up for [Page/Plant]," Maida said. He said that kind of notice
by someone of Plant's stature was very inspiring. "He told us how much he loved the record and he said
we have the most conviction he's heard in a new band for the last three or four years." After opening for
Page/Plant, the band did about 50 dates with Van Halen and an Alanis Morissette tour -- not a bad
first impression on the U.S. market.
That initial run through the U.S. has paved the way
for Our Lady Peace to headline its own stateside
club gigs, this time touring behind Clumsy, which is on Columbia Records in the U.S. As for home
country support, Clumsy debuted at No. 1 on the Canadian SoundScan chart and hit platinum within
three weeks of its release. That qualifies the band to headline arenas in Canada next year.
Certainly, there's been no sophomore jinx with Clumsy.
And that's not by mistake. In an industry full
of disposable bands, Our Lady Peace stays far away from the one-hit-wonder phenomenon. "One of
our greatest fears is making a record that only has two or three good songs, whether they're hit singles
or not," Maida said. "We're much more interested in making something that you can listen to all the way
through." The band had proof of accomplishing that goal at a recent sold-out show in Houston. "Even
though "Superman's Dead" is probably a top-10 hit ... [concert-goers] were also singing like the eighth
and ninth track on the record," Maida said. "That's really inspiring for us because it just makes you
believe that people are getting a little deeper into the band rather than just [the hit single]." Our Lady
Peace is currently in the U.S. headlining club shows and will start opening for Everclear in November.
The band will set out on its first arena tour of Canada in January.
Mike Turner called into the 102.1 The Edge recently to discuss the upcoming concert at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Kim: And with us to talk about this show, the guitar player, Mike Turner. Good evening Mike.
Mike: Hello Kim.
Kim: How are you doing?
Mike: I'm pretty good. How are you doing?
Kim: I'm very well thank you.
Kim: So you're somebody who grew up in Toronto right?
Mike: Not really, I grew up more in the UK. But yes I know it..Toronto I think where you're going it the whole idea of it being "The Gardens".
Mike: Man that's...I can't believe it.
Kim: That's where Rush plays.
Mike: Ya it's Maple Leaf Gardens! I can come up with a bunch of adjectives and describe it's this it's that, but at the end of it you'd always just say: well it's Maple Leaf Gardens! You know there's no other descriptions necessary, we're all totally hyped!
Kim: So how do you feel about that at this stage of your career, I mean does it feel like you sort of got a certain amount of control about how this is going or does it feel like everything is just going so quickly, you know?
Mike: It depends what day you ask me. Today I feel like we might have a little bit of control because we've actually just been dealing with how we want to do this and the elements of it that we can control so I'm feeling like, oh yeah, ok we can do this. But then other days you know, going back to the kid who's going to more shows at Maple Leaf Gardens thinking no, wow, what are we doing here? It can be a little overwhelming but I think it's enough that we can control it to make it something we're going to be proud of.
Kim: But I guess having done the Edgefest tour this past summer, I mean you played to audiences, I mean Molson Park for instance was well over 30 000 people. So it's not an entirely unknow experience for you right?
Mike: Ya true enough, I mean, for us it will be neat because it's the first time it's going to be sort of, our show and we have control of all the element that we want to know about. In that regard it'll be a little different bit true between the dates we did with bigger bands in the states and the Alanis Morissette tour we've actually done a lot of these venues before, obviously apart from the gardens, on the national wide side of it there we've actually done some of these venues before which is also very strange to think of but, we'll know what to expect.
Kim: We're speaking about Our Lady Peace playing Maple Leaf Gardens Saturday, January 17th. With guests Everclear. Now that's interesting because you're doing some dates with them in the US and i guess you're sort of returning the favor on this one right?
Mike: Ya, very much so. I'm look forward to that we start with them in, I think what, ten days or something and it's going to be neat. It's us and them and Letter to Cleo are opening, who we actually toured with for like six weeks on the last record. So it's going to be a nice little traveling circus.
Kim: There's a couple of other quick things I want to mention Mike, because I know things have been going just tremendously well for the group in the United States. The album has been selling the single being played on the radio and you've also got Clumsy I think is the new single in the US but it's also on the soundtrack for I Know What You Did Last Summer. That's kind of a cool little door opener isn't it?
Mike: Ya! That was actually sort of a nice surprise for us. It was one of those "oh and by the way you're on this soundtrack" and we like "oh really, cool. What's it for?" And then they told us what it was and that's another one of those moments where you go "no way!" So, we're happy.
Kim: And it actually looks like a film I'd like to see.
Mike: Ya, I know! I'm pretty please about that to! I'd hate for it to be one some real bonehead film.
Kim: Ya, something like the Angus soundtrack or you know soundtrack in search of a film.
Mike: Well isn't that...(couldn't catch the name he said)...Never mind
Kim: You're also doing some dates with the Rolling Stones. Correct?
Mike: Two of them ya. In Quebec city. That was actually a product of the tour that we're talking about today. We had a date on hold in Quebec city, which the Stones said well gee we'd really want that, and we're like well, you're the rolling stones you can have that date. And they said well why don't you open for us on those two days. So you know that's going to be great just becuase, well another one of those adjectiveless descriptions. They're the rolling stones you know, they're old, yes. They've been doing longer than most of us have been alive, yes. But they're the Rolling Stones.
Kim: Is that when it made sense for your mom? like there always a point when you're parents finally get it. Was that it for your mom?
Mike: You know what? I'm not sure my mom still knows. You know, my eldest sister, ya, she said, "seriously, you're playing with the Rolling Stones?" I'm like "ya". "Wow" So suddenly I've sprang into a whole new light in here eyes.
Kim: Wow. Well we're going to see what Maple Leaf Gardens on Saturday January 17th it's an Edge Presents with Our Lady Peace Everclear and Letters to Cleo Tickets on sale this Saturday. Mike thank you for taking the time and best of luck we'll see you in January.
Mike: Thanks alot Kim.
With sales of 600,000 for Clumsy in Canada, a sell-out arena tour on the horizon, an opening slot for the Rolling Stones in Quebec City and current breakthroughs in the U.S., Toronto rock band Our Lady Peace is most concerned with making its first-ever arena tour as personal as possible.
"We're trying to not make these big arenas seem like big arenas," says lead vocalist Raine Maida, on the phone from Atlanta, GA, during a rare day off from opening for Everclear in the States. "It's hard to do."
While touring with Everclear, OLP's less hectic opening schedule is allowing Maida, guitarist Mike Turner, bassist/keyboardist Duncan Coutts and drummer Jeremy Taggart to direct some short films to project on video screens for the Canadian tour in January.
"That's what we're really excited about," Maida says, shrugging off the U.S. SoundScan numbers and chart positions, reviews that predict superstardom, and even the upcoming Stones date.
"We talked about showing the lost tapes from some of the videos, like stuff that people have never seen," says Maida who directed OLP's current video, "Automatic Flowers", with the rest of the band. "But we really want to make something that's important to us, so we're going to do some interesting little short mini-movies that we're directing."
Meanwhile, Maida is finding that Americans are reacting to OLP's inventive rock in much the same manner as folks back home. Clumsy has sold over 130,000 copies, according to SoundScan, on the strength of just one single, "Superman's Dead", and Columbia Records is about to go to radio with "Clumsy" next week.
"Crossing that boundary and seeing that kids are reacting just the same down here as they did in Canada is gratifying for us because whatever myths people have about America, it's not different," says Maida. "It's proving that, hopefully, the music we make is universal enough that people get it everywhere -- and that's really important to us.
"I think that's what a lot of our fans down here are feeling. They don't care that we're from Canada. They just care that they're connecting with the music and the lyrics. And to me, it leaves all the other bullshit behind. It's really what we got in his business for, to make music that people could feel just as passionate as we do about it.
"It feels very natural to us," he continues, "because Clumsy was released earlier in Canada and the way `Superman's Dead' did in Canada, it's the same thing down here -- people are chanting the song and singing louder than we do most nights in these clubs and theaters. For us, it feels really honest. It's mimicking the way Canada received Clumsy at the beginning."
Opening for Everclear, whose shows are selling out, is a welcome break for OLP which has been headlining shows in Canada all year. "Not that we slack off, but the pressures off for five weeks, and as weird as it sounds, we can focus on other things and right now we need to," he says, like freshening up the songs from Clumsy and its debut album, Naveed.
"We're starting to screw around with the arrangements, not for this tour, but attempting the stuff we're going to do for the arena tour. We're kind of making this our rehearsal. We're changing the set from night to night. We're really taking advantage of trying to experiment right now because we want to take a week off for Christmas and then the arena tour starts on the 3rd of January."
As for the Stones date, Maida is nonchalant about opening for the world's greatest rock `n' roll band. He's thinking more that it'll be a great tale to tell his his kids one day (no, there aren't any little Peace's at the moment).
"Honest to God, that's what it is. It's definitely more of that kind of vibe attached to it, rather than us being really excited about it. We're just going to do it because we'd be really dumb not to do it. It will be fun, but we're just so geared up now with our own tour now, and this arena tour, trying to make it special for us."
With their debut album "Naveed" they took Canada by storm, becoming
one of the country's biggest
bands. That album produced classic songs like "Starseed," "Julia" and "Naveed." Now with their
sophomore album "Clumsy" they have gone a bit farther and have now taken the world by storm with
anthems like "Superman's Dead" and "Clumsy." ARW recently sat down with bassist Duncan Coutts
and guitarist Mike Turner of Our Lady Peace, here's what we found out.
Alternative Rock World: First off, what are your guys tour plans for the rest of 97' and 98'?
Duncan Coutts: We are going to be doing radio festivals basically, all
up and down the western
Mike Turner: And the eastern seaboard too, all the way over to Providence.
Duncan: We are?
Duncan? Is that one of the fly-ins?
Mike: We'll be doing radio festivals all over the country until the 16th of December.
Duncan: I hear a rumor, we might be going home. For Christmas for two
weeks. That would be very
cool, because that's something we don't do, we never take time off.
Mike: It'll be in the longest time we've taken off in 3-4 years, because we're dumb.
ARW: So do you guys plan on being on tour for a long time?
Mike: The new year is starting and on the 5th we open up the Stones
in Quebec City and on the 7th we
start our own 22 day coast to coast arena tour in Canada. Everclear will be coming along to open up
for us in Canada.
Duncan: Basically we're going to hang out for Everclear for 3 months.
Mike: Luckily we're really enjoying each other's company.
Duncan: We didn't know each other before we committed to 3 months together, so that's cool.
Mike: Soon as we're done with that in February we'll be back.
Duncan: Then there's some rumor of going oversees to fulfill some European commitments.
ARW: How is it different playing club shows in the states opposed to playing arenas in Canada?
Mike: It's just a different scale. As long as you're making the contact
with the people you're playing to.
That's the only goal. There's different means to that end. In a club I can shake my head and splash you
with sweat, that's definitely establishes some kind of bond. In an arena we're making some short films to
go with the video presentation side of it. They're different elements and different means to the same end.
You want to make contact and feel that sort of communal experience with the music. I like them both
personally, they're just different.
ARW: "Clumsy" is doing so well, it looks like is might end up being
your biggest song yet here in the
Mike: So far.
Duncan: You never know. I don't want to agree with you because it might
jinx it. All you
can do is be happy with the album you've made. If people like it and radio likes it, than cool. If you
start thinking about it and start worrying about it, than you're just asking for an ulcer and an end of a
ARW: We took some questions from your fans from the mailing list and
news group. One of them
wanted to know what an average tour day is like.
Duncan: I'd like to say really exciting and really glamours, lots of
party and fun. We just work hard.
We'll take you from the night before. We do the gig and than hopefully, if there's enough time, we go
back to the hotel and shower. If not, than we just get right on the bus, stink, and wake up in the next
Mike: If we don't do it at one end we do it at another, we always bathe one end of sleeping.
Duncan: Than usually there are press commitments.
Mike: Acoustic performances at radio, sometimes 2 or 3.
Duncan: Maybe a lunch thrown in there, back to the venue for sound check.
Than after sound check
there's usually the meet and greet type thing, interviews. Maybe some dinner if you have enough time
between than and the show. If you try and sing on a full stomach, forget about it, at least for me it
doesn't work. Than you do the show and it all stars again. On this tour our days off have been drive
days to the next city.
Mike: It's like 1100 miles, so that's the only reason there's a day off, because you need it.
Duncan: Let the driver sleep for 8 hours, if there's something to do than do it, than back on the bus.
ARW: Are you guys writing at all on tour?
Duncan: Not right now as a band. We aren't getting the time to jam together.
Everyone is writing stuff.
We went home for half a week and went into the studio and basically flushed out some of the ideas. Put
them on tape and let everybody have a go at whoever's idea it was. Just keep the tape running all day
long. You can't really turn off the creative urge, we're still trying to catalog it.
Mike: Basically anytime any of us pick up our instrument, there's a
pretty good chance we're about to
playing something we didn't play before, whether or not we'll actually keep it. Creativeness isn't a
switch you can turn off and on.
Duncan: Or like last night where I was playing along with Soundgarden, because Ben Shepperd is god.
ARW: Is the new stuff taking on any particular sound?
Mike: It's way too early.
Duncan: Not as of yet. Chords, melodies, some lines, that sort of stuff.
Mike: I guarantee the next album will be at least different as different
from "Clumsy" as "Clumsy" was
from "Naveed" at least, maybe more. We've made one each of "Naveed" and "Clumsy" we don't need
to make another of either.
ARW: "Clumsy" is the big song everybody wants to know about. What was the inspiration behind it?
Duncan: Lyrically I don't know what spurred it on from Raine. I think
basically what we've talked about
is from being on the road from the last album you see a lot of bands sort of hopping on the angry
bandwagon. "WE MUST BE ANGRY".
Mike: What are you? We're angry.
Duncan: We must sell alternative albums. If you see someone do an act
that maybe causes harm to
someone, it's not necessarily out of spite or out of anger. It could possibly be because they are clumsy.
Clumsy was just sort of more compassionate word and feeling that sort of summed it up. We were all
just sort of sick of seeing fabricated angry bands.
Mike: I never want to say 'this is what the song is about" even if we
have the absolute definitive version
sitting on a sheet of paper somewhere. It's up to the listener to bring a lot to it. I always love when I
listen to an album, when I was younger and even now. "Man, that sounds like Dave. You know my
friend Dave? This song sounds just like it could be about him man, totally." That's what I've always
liked, I'd hate to hem any of our stuff.
ARW: That's a good policy. What kind of stuff are you guys listening to on the road?
Mike: Radiohead, I keep going back to that record. We say it almost
every time, Soul Coughing. It's
just a brilliant record I think. The Beatles...
Duncan: I was listening to old U2 last night, Soundgarden and I've listened
to a bit of the new
Mike: It's very much Portishead. You have to be in the mood to watch a 60s spy film.
Duncan: I still love Rage.
Mike: Beth Orton is actually a pretty hip record. Basically we're music
junkies. Lately I don't think
anyone has found one album, apart from going back to Tool's last record and Radiohead's most
recently that we can say, this is a record. This is a whole album, this isn't a couple songs and some filler.
This is a whole record where I don't use the skip button. I can put this on and 45 minutes come out of
that trance and have been to several different places. It's not been a great time for that lately. Great time
for greatest hits hits collections. Most of these bands only have 1 or 2 songs that are really cool and if
you could get an album with all those semi-decent songs on one album, that would be great, that you
wouldn't have to wait through all the crap that people put on their record for no good reason.
Duncan: Elton John Greatest Hits Volume 1, don't listen to any of the
other ones. Volume 2, ooh. Man
he was good back in the day though. This goes back to what do you do during the day, actually had 20
minutes yesterday in the hotel room to do nothing. I saw Elton John on Rosie O'Donell, I was like that's
not the guy who wrote "Rocket Man." Not to slag you too much Elton, I'm sorry.
ARW: Are you guy's looking forward to opening for the Rolling Stones?
Mike: It'll be an honor, they're
the Rolling Stones. You don't even need to have good, bad, or indifferent descriptions about them. The
young, the old, the good, the bad. Shut up, they're the Rolling Stones.
Duncan: Everyone should have "Exile On Mainstreet."
Mike: At least one.
ARW: How's been your experiences been with bands like Page/Plant and Van Halen?
Mike: Awesome. It seems the larger the musical figure we meet, the more
humble they are. Robert
Plant came up to us in catering and introduced himself. For one, you really don't need to, like anywhere
in the planet, to introduce yourself. People know who you are. He introduces himself and says I just
wanted to say I really enjoyed your record and I think it has a great sound of conviction that I haven't
heard in music in a long time. If there's anything I can do to make this tour easy, let me know, sorry to
interrupt your meal. He's like apologizing for interrupting our meal. It's like Van Halen, he's like the
sweetest man in the world. Same thing with Alanis Morissette. If these people don't have attitudes, who
the hell the has a right to? Nobody.
Duncan: Especially a lot of young bands that have serious attitudes,
that think they are the shit. Man,
come on, wake up. Don't fabricate an attitude, because you haven't done it yet.
Mike: If you think you have a body of work that merits an attitude,
how about you just get that Beatles
blue greatest hits compilation and get album.
ARW: (with a sly smile on his face) Now that Beavis and Butthead are
dead, do you see Superman
making a come back?
Mike: We've stemmed the tide! We brought around the death of Beavis and Butthead!
Duncan: They haven't died yet tonight, have they?
ARW: 10:00 o'clock tonight.
Mike: They kill them today, good.
Duncan: Right when we're on stage.
Mike: Nice, we'll have to time 'Superman' for right about that time.
That's funny. Media in general has
made it pretty impossible to have an innocent view of heroism. No one can be a hero without there
being an ulterior motive. You're not doing it because you're nice, you're trying to get something. That's
sort of an element of what we're talking about in 'Superman.' It's not good, kids don't have their own
identity because they get one made for them. Their told by advertisers, media and entertainment. What
they like, who they should be friends with, what music they listen to, what clothes they wear. They have
a complete identity that they learned to conform to by they're 15 or 16. They've had absolutely no
personal investment in getting their own identity and that's not good.
ARW: You guys are so big in Canada, do you feel any responsible in spreading this message?
Mike: No. We've received some pretty flattering emails about some of
the songs on the record that
people say, as silly as it sounds, changed my life. With "4 am" a lot of kids have written and said it really
made them to talk their father. That's wonderful, but that wasn't out intent. When Raine wrote those
lyrics and the core of that song, it was something we wanted to say. We make music.
Duncan: When we make an album, we're really judicious about what we
let people hear. We'll have a
song and than we'll say this is pretty good and someone will say I don't know. Than we sort of
reevaluate. Same thing when Raine writes lyrics.
Mike: The first set of lyrics he comes up with usually aren't the ones that end up.
Duncan: If, touch wood, this band is around for another 10 year. I want
to be able to go on stage in 10
years and feel the same conviction than as I do now. And I think lyrically that's a responsibility that
Raine is taking on. If it touches people in a possible way, that's great.
ARW: Do you see Our Lady Peace more of a band, like a cohesive unit,
than a bunch of guys that do
their own thing?
Duncan: It's like a brotherhood, in the sense that we all love each
other and we all hate each other at
times. We fight, but we all communicate. We share really great time and really tough times. Being in a
band is really difficult.
Mike: It's a world of extremes, you never get the middle.
Duncan: You have to live with these people, you have to create with
these people, you have to do
business with these people. You don't even do that with your wife. It's an all encompassing relationship.
Mike: It's a relationship no one would get into if they knew what it
involved. It's something we're willing
to do just because of the music, as long as that's the case it will carry on.
ARW: Do you guys have any goals?
Mike: I'm going to have dinner.
Duncan: I don't know. Just to be better, to be better live. I want to
be a way better bass player. We all
want to be better songwriters, miles better. If we're so lucky for someone to dig our music long after
this band is gone, than that will be a really flattering thing. You can only ever hope to achieve that by
being true to yourself and just having a good worth ethic. If you want to be a really good reporter, you
have to hone your craft. If you want to be a lawyer, you have to be good slime.
Mike: Sacrifice any ethics you may have once had.
Duncan: You just have to really work hard at it, you can't take it lightly.
I think a lot of bands get caught
in the hey we're on a bus, we're on a major label, we must be good. If you start believing your own
hype, than you're in trouble.
ARW: A lot of people wanted to know about "Carnival."
Mike: There's actually a cool story with how it happened. We sort of
sequestered ourselves in a
cottage in northern Toronto to write this record. We did it by leaving a tape running, we had a cassette
machine and a microphone in there, we just left it running. The cottage is also pretty seriously haunted. I
know that says all granola and groovy.
Duncan: It's never been haunted before.
Mike: Coutts family cottage, so he's still complaining about it. Jeremy saw stuff.
Duncan: I saw stuff. Jeremy was playing with a wee gee board.
Mike: Which was stupid, stupid!
Duncan: I only did it once before. I was with a bunch of people and
they asked "is this a good spirit or
a bad spirit" and simultaneously all the candles in the room blow out. I'm like, I'm never touching a wee
gee board again. So Jeremy buys a wee gee board to bring up to the cottage. He's like "I want a bad
spirit, I want a bad spirit." He literally went into this trance 6 hours later and some really weird things
happened. We were sifting through the tape a couple days later.
Mike: We were going back through the tape and I heard that (hums the
strange melody) and
everybody's like, ewww!
Duncan: Where did that come from?
Mike: No one remembered playing it. It was like "did anyone remember
this? What were we working
on when this happen?" Basically that section was almost complete. The song sprang out of that pretty
quickly, it has that vibe. We tried to keep that kind of dark, semi-twisted vibe to it.
Duncan: It's just got one of those cool vibes too it, it'll always be a weird song for us.
ARW: It's one of my favorites on the album.
Mike: Mine too actually.
ARW: Do you guys have any personal favorites on the album?
Duncan: "Changes." "Carnival" is up there. I still love "Car Crash."
You spend so much time creating
each song, and there's 5 of us together fighting about what happens to each song. You can't love more
than another really, they are what they are, as trite as that may sound. It changes all the time.
Mike: They've all your babies and you can't orphan any of them. Some of them are harder deliveries.
Duncan: I don't listen to the album, unless it's for reference.
Mike: These guys are lucky, I have to keep going back to listen to it.
Duncan: Hey man, you guys screwed that up last night.
Mike: Which guitar parts am I supposed to be playing, because we put
to many on the record. There's
still only one of me, how am I going to do this better.
ARW: What's the difference with the texturing on the album and how it translates playing it live.
Mike: When you see a band, there needs to be something to keep you attention.
Whether it's the sound
of the instruments, the dynamic of the band on stage, lights, PA, interacting in the room. There's all
those elements that you don't have on a recording. So we'll add a little guitar noodle on the side doing
something groovy or a sonic thing over the whole track. Just whatever we can. You don't get to use
your eyes and your overall physical perception of the music, you only have your ears, so we're trying to
put more stuff in to keep it as interesting.
With the success of their 1994 platinum-selling debut album Naveed and
break-through single, "Starseed," the Toronto quartet Our Lady Peace were
invited to support KISS shows in Canada, and later even landing prized
opening slots for Rage Against The Machine, Van Halen, Alanis Morissette and Page and Plant. They even generated a strong buzz in America with the single from their latest double-platinum album, Clumsy, called "Superman's Dead."
Because of their young age and their dedication to devote themselves to indie rock, the quartet suffered attacks after their debut like "being a Canadian copy of Silverchair"- even if Raine's vocal tracks occasionally remind one of Billy Corgan.
But it shows that hte versatile band trancends any of those labels after
a listen to Clumsy- from the deadening bass line of the album closer, "Car
Crash" to the wash effects and bells in "Carnival." Like the sinister,
artwork, their experimental dabbling in primal rock, unconventional vocal phrasing and contagious melody transports the listener to deeper meanings that are not as superficial as it appears.
Obviously all the Seattle comparisons didn't phase Our Lady peace all
that much and Raine Maida(vocals), Mike Turner(guitar), Duncan Coutts(bass,
keyboards, chello) and Jeremy Taggart(drums) started working on their second
album Clumsy(Columbia), which also contains standout tracks "Hello Oskar"
and their hook-filled single in Canada, "Automatic Flowers."
It was in 1993 wen Maida a former criminology student, hooked up with
Turner when the former placed a classified ad looking for musicians to
start a band with. The pair approached their future producer/songwriter
at a musical seminar in Canada, and ended up taping a demo with him. Record companies were interested in signing the still incomplete band based on the demo's strength, and many reps were presented at auditions held by Maida and Turner for the remaining spots. Taggart came into the fold later, as did Coutts (who quit the band temporarily to spend more time with his studies.
In August they made a high-profile appearance on MTV's wacky Oddville
show, and traveled on a radio station tour across Canada to promote their
appearance on Summersault ‘97 and major Edgefest festival (where they
perform alongside Silverchair, Collective Soul and I Mother Earth). Before that, they toured every nook and cranny on the European shores. "I think it's very important for us to tour Europe, the radio system is very different from whet we're used to in the states," Maida explains. "From what we've heard you don't seem to have good stations there, like our college stations in the States or at home in Canada. Stations who also play alternative stuff."
Circus: Your latest album Clumsy was scheduled for 1996 but finished and released in the summer of ‘97. What took you so long?
Maida: We love to experiment and we experimented a lot when we were
working on Clumsy. That's why it took quite a while this time until we
had the finished the album. We tried out a lot of different things, different
approaches...We were playing around and experimenting.
Did you feel under pressure after the huge success of Naveed or was it a more liberating experience?
After we had such a success with Naveed, the pressure was pretty high and first we didn't really know what to do and how to start. For a while we were almost clueless, yeah and almost scared you could say.
What did you do about it?
We had lots of meetings, put our heads together and thought about what we should so, talked about how the new album should be...We didn't want to copy ourselves, we wanted to show a development. The result of our brainstorming sessions was: F**k all the expectations, we're going to do exactly what we want to do anyway!
What was the angle of Clumsy?
We wanted to make an album that wouldn't sound like we' try to prove
anything. We tried to get away from the reproaches, accusations and the
pressure to make a success. I think we're right at the start of our career
and we still have got a lot to learn, but we want to learn by doing, not
by copying anybody else. It has to be an
inner motivation and not an influence from outside.
Who has the ideas for the songs?
That depends, really. We are trying to realize every idea and see with what we come up and the best idea wins in te end. It doesn't really matter who had the idea.
So the 11 songs on Clumsy are the winning ideas?
Exactly, the 11 songs are the results of the ideas we liked best.
What do you think is the most important thing when you're recording an album?
The most important thing is always to find a good song. A good song is definitely absolutely important. If you don't have a good or even great song - nobody's gonna buy your records - simple.
That sounds very easy. Was it easy to record Clumsy?
Not at all. We had some idea when we went into the studio, but once there we discovered how much we can improve them, so we checked song after song.... We're pretty playful, so we started to play around with the ideas and songs and we started to experiment... We were really lucky that our record company didn't interfere. They gave us the time we needed.
You got your record contract before you even played a gig, but after Naveed was released you did over 400 shows, even if you didn't need to tour so extensively because you had so much airplay.
The radio loved us and we were on the MTV rotation and yeah true, we
got a lot of airplay but the gigs helped us to get to know each other better.
I think the gigs did a lot to glue us together as a band. Gigs and touring
can be a real
strain, if you embark from a tour and you're still friends, then you've passed the test.
Aren't you fed up with touring?
I think touring is very, very important for a band. I have to see a
band live to remember it. Playing live is the make-or-break for every band.
I think a lot of people know a song but don't know who performs the song
even if they know, they might forget the name again. I don't think you forget a band so easily if you've seen them live. Especially for our kind of music playing live is very important. Another thing is, that if you play live you really get a feedback from the audience. Of course record sales are also an indicator if the public likes you but if you're playing live you can see how the audience reacts when you're playing a certain song. You can also experiment on stage and see if the people like what you're doing or not.
Which other musicians do you admire?
The Beatles! We all love the Beatles, they were absolutely fantastic and they are such a great source of inspiration. We're all crazy about the Beatles!!!
And why The Beatles? What do you admire about them?
They never repeated themselves, they were always changing but each record was a huge success. If you look at their stuff, you can't even compare their first and their last record, both have almost nothing in common, The Beatles did so much, you can't even ask "what did they do?" - it's much easier to ask "what didn't they do?" I think the Beatles were the best band ever!
What do you think about the fact that a lot of people compare you with Silverchair?
Should we think anything about it? That's plainly ignorant and superficial. Like they're young and the guys from Silverchair are young, so let's call them both kiddie bands. People who do that show a lot of ignorance and we refuse to let that bother us. Yes, we're young but so what? Age is not something you've got to earn, you grow older all by yourself and I don't understand why a lot of people think they have to look down on youngsters. Maybe they've already forgotten that they were young once.
Pick out the JAMS
"We're incredibly hard workers," say Mike Turner, guitarist for the Canadian hard rock quartet Our Lady Peace. Even that's an understatement: In recording Clumsy for Columbia records the band locked itself in a studio-cabin north of Toronto for up to 17 hours a day. Talk about cabin fever!
But even after studious filling up countless reels of tape with jamming and sonic experiments, then meticulously replaying everything, the best parts of Clumsy all happened by accident. The scary little guitar lick on "Carnival," for instance, was a mystery moment. "I don't even remember playing it," admits Turner.
Like "Carnival" and the catchy first single, "Superman's Dead," most of Clumsy (the follow-upto 1994's Gold-selling debut Naveed) serves up two distinct guitar parts in the same song. "There should always be a few things to listen to, never just one thing," says Turner. "Instead of just playing the meat and potatoes of the part, there's another little piece we put into the space."
Turner's big and small sounds combined with Raine Maida's moaning vocals and the booming rhythm section of bassist Duncan Coutts and drummer Jeremy Taggart, makes for a dark arena-rock sound that conjures up visions of smashing pumpkins and Alice in Chains beating the shit out of each other.
The hard part is reproducing Clumsy, live-and it means cameos by the
reluctant rhythm guitarist Maida. "I prefer to use the guitar more as a
writing tool," the singer says. "I leave all of that other stuff for Mike
to handle. I have
no desire to be a lead guitar player." Fair enough, cabin boy.
"Jeremy Taggart rules!" was scrawled on a note that recently showed
up at the Modern Drummer
offices. The young Canadian drummer obviously has his fans. Apparently so does the band he plays in,
the Toronto-based foursome Our Lady Peace. OLP's second album, Clumsy was just released,
making it clear why Taggart is perking drummer's ears. Jeremy has an energetic style that sounds as if
it's inspired by players like Matt Cameron and Dave Abbruzzese - a heavy alternative approach with
lots of power and good technique. But there's another element in the mix as well: Taggart doesn't hold
back. He plays with an abandon - almost a cockiness - that reminds one a bit of, dare we say it, the
great Keith Moon. Fire and freedom burst from his drums.
Taggart's flowing, free - style approach makes his parts tough to transcribe,
as he doesn't often repeat
patterns over and over. Jeremy constantly embellishes and adds rythmic commentary to the music
around him. That said, the following examples, taken from Clumsy, are the "core" patterns he plays.
Pick up the record to hear Jeremy elaborate on these beats, as well as to get a load of some fun fills he
Our Lady Peace is finally on the verge of something big here in America.
With only a relatively short history behind tem, they've invaded Modern
Rick radio with their lastest singles "Clumsy" and "Superman's Dead." The
Torotnto, Ontario band released their second LP entitled Clumsy this past
spring as a follow-up to their debut Naveed. They're the kind of band that
even if you really appreciate their music on CD, you'll be hooked forever
after seeing them play. That's why I highly recommend heading up to the
Metropol in Pittsburgh tonight to catch their show with Letters To Cleo
and Everclear. At last check, tickets were still available, and if you
decide to make the trip to see this triple bill, you'll be glad you did.
I had the chance to sit down with band members Raine Maida (vocals), Mike
Turner (guitar), and Jeremy Taggert (drums) before their gig at the Tralfamadore
Cafe in Buffalo, NY, this past summer. Here's how it unfolded.
Tim- Can you tell us what kinds of thing you tried differently to record
Clumsy as opposed to Naveed?
Raine- Well, that was pretty much the idea, just do things differently. We tried to experiment with as many instruments as we could possible plat, which is still limited, but it worked out well. Our new bass player (Duncan Coutts) plays keyboard and cello and sings, so there's a few new colors there that helped. We also all kind of broadened our pallets in terms of what we wanted our music to sound like. And I think that the result was Clumsy.
Mike- We tried to go with some different sounds and approaches. The worst thing that we could say about some aspect of our music isn't 'Is it good or bad?' but more 'Is it dated?' And as soon as we used that word to describe something, whatever it was referring to was gone.
Raine- Plus, we recorded Naveed after being together for only a short time. But after that we toured constantly for about two years. After playing a lot together, you come together more and learn how to feel off eace other more. It helps in the writing phase as well; we weren't as limited as we once were. And again, with our new bassist Duncan, he can play things like keyboards, which are much more prevalent on this record, I don't think that even one note of keyboard made it on to the first. It feels like our options are a lot greater now, which makes it even more exciting for the nest record because you're not as stifled.
Mike- I think changing from Naveed to Clumsy was good for us because
wwe sort of fanned out a bit. I mean, if you have your particular sort
of sound and then stay on that path, then you're increasingly more limited.
Like, if the Ramones decided to release a synthetic album with all keyboards
it wouldn't work because it's not a sound that they can reach because they
haven't allowed themselves earlier freedom to be able to see that route.
We like to
look at it like we haven't shut ourselves out of anything, and we don't intend to.
Raine- You can see that sort of thing with bands like U2 or the Beatles.
They both had these progressions of their sound which seemed natural, and
it worked. If you look at U2 now with Pop, and then go back to something
like War, it's so much different but at the same time seems like it makes
sense, and it still sounds like U2. The same thing happened to the Beatles
with their early poppy stuff to their later stuff -- it's very differnt,
but it was still the
Beatles, so hopefully we can follow that kind of path as they did and not throw people off.
Tim- I guess you could say that when you were starting off, you got
yourselves going in a way that is I guess out of the ordinary. Can you
tell us what it was like to end up with a record deal right after getting
a few songs on tape and then recording Naveed after having played only
a handful of live shows?
Mike- As pathetic and unlikely as that sounds, that's pretty much what happened. We were still very green and very wide-eyed and naive and enthusiastic, and we just did what we felt was natural.
Raine- It was really weird. I remember we had a record deal, and we were opened for Blind melon in Toronto. It was like, we didn't even have any songs really, we had like four songs.
Mike- Yeah and it was like, 'Ok, you know that idea, that one in D?
We'll play that one for about four minutes, OK?'
Tim- So then you toured extensively after releasing Naveed, almost nonstop.
What did that experience do to the band?
Raine- Yeah, you learn a lot about each other, and you learn a lot about
music collectively rather than individually. And that helps a lot because
you turn to others on to stuff that you dig. You really get in tune with
each other as artists. And I think that the two and a half years of touring
like that in our little school bus really defined the way Clumsy was going
to sound. It was really important, and something that shouldn't be overlooked.
Tim- In what ways did you try to tackle the US audience and market with
Mike- (jokes) We go for the holes and hopefully they have some weakness in the knees... get 'em there.
Raine- Yeah, you can play shows in front of thousands of people and have your music all over the radio across the country, but you step over the border and no one knows who you are.
Jeremy- We spent about nine or ten months in America pretty much nonstop after our first record, while other bands that we know come down for only a month or so and go back disappointed. I think that's pretty much the only way to beat the whole thing is by touring and touring and touring.
Raine- It's tough like Jeremy said, and it's hard to really define why most bands don't ever sell more than 10,000 records down here.
Mike- I think that if we knew that we'd be owning a record company instead of being a band. It's just hard work. You haven't earned anything by being popular in your own market apart from those fans; no one anywhere else owes you a thing. You have to go out and prove it for real each time.
Raine- I think most bands let their egos get the better of them -- you get big in your country and think you're automatically going to be big elsewhere.
Mike- Yeah, like 'Don't you know who we are?' kind of thing.
Jeremy- And then there's bands that say that they're not going to do
interviews or play for radio stations and stuff, but it's like, why not?
You want to be a band, you want to do this for living, then you do everything
it takes to make you a better band and make your fans and people who want
to hear your music come out. They say, 'Ok, I'll play the show, but I'm
not going to talk to anyone or play on the radio,' and then wonder why
nobody shows up. And it
helps to have like border towns like Buffalo and Detroit where your music can kind of filter down into the states, and then the label gets excited when they see that something is starting to happen down here.
Tim- And you even sold more records in the states then you did in Canada,
Mike- On the first one, yeah, for Naveed we did. But we're excited to
be down here again and being on the road in the states again promoting
ourselves, as weird as that may sound, as Bill Gates as that may sound.
Tim- One last thing, I sort of heard the story somewhere of a time that
you ran into some trouble crossing the border because of the name of the
band, can you tell us about it?
Raine- It was scary, actually. Yeah, scary is probably the best way
to describe it. What happened is that we were coming back from Windsor
to play in Detroit. We were actually already in Detroit; we soundchecked
and then went back to a radio station in Windsor to do an interview, and
then we were going back. As we were coming back, the guy from the record
company tells the guy at the border that it's a band, the guy asks the
name of the band, and he says 'Our Lady Peace.' And this guy like blanched,
physically you could see the change on this guy's face, he was grinding
his teeth and was like, 'Oh, it's good, it's fun, it's nice to make fun
of the Holy Mother, is it?' And we're like, 'uhh...', we didn't even know
what was going on. we told him that it was the name of a poem, which it
is, and he was like, 'Oh sure it is!' And then he goes off on a tirade,
"If you were to say that about other minorities of
women's groups, they'd be all over you, but you can make fun of the catholics!' And he goes off, and spit is like flying all out of his mouth and stuff, and he had a gun. We were just like, 'What is going on here?'
Mike- Yeah, we were very scared for a moment. I think he actually reached that point where, 'Do you shoot them, or is it too late?' I think he decided that it was too late, and he just let us go. We were very lucky.
Raine- It's very funny. Well,it's funny now that we're still alive and able to talk to you about it.
As late as five years ago, the idea that a festival with all-Canadian headliners could tour stadium-sized outdoor venues would have been laughed out of the corporate boardroom. While the underground was producing landmark works in typical obscurity (Whale Music, Smile), the successful mainstream Canadian bands - the kind that have always been interchangeable with any number of international acts - would be lucky to be filling the same venues as any other mid-sized hitmaker.
In 1997, however, those bands are selling the same gargantuan amounts
as the international players. U2's much-anticipated Pop album, released
in March, was whupped in the sales department by Clumsy, the sophomore
album from Toronto's Our Lady Peace. This can be attributed to a couple
of reasons, the most obvious being that radio had no idea what to make
of the U2 single, while OLP's "Superman's Dead" sounded like everything
else already on their playlist. Clumsy went platinum in three weeks, a
rare feat for a Canadian band's second album.
This summer, OLP are hitting the road with I Mother Earth and The Tea Party as part of Edgefest, which will hit every major Canadian city this summer (an east coast swing is currently being negotiated) with a warm-up gig - Summersault '97 - in London on June 26.
"We were really excited to do it," says bassist Duncan Coutts, over the phone from Denver where the band has been promoting the American release of Clumsy. "Because we did a campus tour right after the release of the album, this is our first real chance to get out and tour for everybody ... It all originally started years ago with the guys talking, because they were friends with I Mother Earth and all those guys long before I was in the band. Originally, they thought it would be cool to get a bunch of bands together and tour. Of course, not thinking of the scale we're doing it at now. They were thinking clubs. Everybody knows each other and everybody's friends, so it should be a lot of fun."
The Tragically Hip's Another Roadside Attraction tours feature a combination of Canadian and international acts handpicked by the band based primarily on their own musical taste. Being as commercially successful as they are, the Hip doesn't have to worry about getting Ron Sexsmith or Wilco fans to fill stadiums. But Coutts sees the whole trend as a marked change in the Canadian music industry. "The music that Canadians are putting out now seems to be a hell of a lot stronger now, so it is much easier to do it at this time," he says. "Especially the size of the venues we're going to be doing on this tour. The talent is out there, right from the mainstage to the B stage to - in Toronto they're even doing a C stage, the new talent search kind of thing. I definitely think it's a sign of a thriving Canadian music scene."
Coutts joined the band in September, 1995, after the release of the band's first album Naveed, and at the point when the single "Starseed" was beginning to take off in the States. "I was friends with [vocalist] Raine [Maida] when they were initially looking for a bassist," he recalls, "and they auditioned me way back when. It wasn't really a formal audition, they weren't even called Our Lady Peace; it was just Raine and [guitarist] Mike [Turner] and another drummer at that point. I was going to school in a different city, and I told them I'd like to come, but I really can't make the commitment. So I passed on it! It's kind of come full circle."
Joining an already-successful band can be either daunting or an easy jump for someone who was working "just like any other indie musician, doing demo tapes and gigs as much as possible," says Coutts. "I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. The guys made it really easy; I made it more difficult than it needed to be! But it was a pretty easy transformation."
It also gave Coutts an outsider's perspective on a band that went from total obscurity to superstars who became the whipping boys of the Canadian music press. Growing up in the public spotlight can either suffocate an artist (by the way, there's a new Sinead O'Connor EP out) or bind them closer together. "I think they learned how to be a band," muses Coutts, "seeing as how they only had twelve shows or seven shows, or whatever it was before they got signed. Knowing them beforehand, I think they had to grow up and lose some of their naivete. And they had to get good live really quick, and it made them a much better unit: much more confident as players and songwriters."
Coutts firmly believes that trial by fire toughens a band to external criticism. "You're going to make music that you like, and you're going to put it out, and they're either going to like it or they're not," he says, speaking of the press. "And they're going to write about it. You just have to roll with it. The bottom line for us is that we've made an album that at the end of the day, we're proud to have in our collection. I think for a young band growing up in the spotlight, if you have a group of people who trust each other and stick up for each other, then it's much easier to weather the blows than if you're trying to do it on your own."
Early on, the band received a shot in the arm that would be enough to inspire any young band for the rest of their career. Not only did they open a leg of the Page and Plant tour, but the rock legends were genuinely excited to have the young Canadian upstarts with them. "I've heard stories that Jimmy Page would be doing a jig behind the guys during soundcheck," says Coutts, who joined shortly after the tour. "Or Robert Plant sitting down with them and saying, 'Hi, I'm Robert Plant, and I really find that you guys are the one band that has conviction in their music these days.' When you hear that from a guy like Robert Plant, it must be the most chilling thing, because if anyone deserves to have an ego in rock'n'roll, it's him. But he doesn't."
Our Lady Peace has returned the karmic favour by being champions of other Canadian bands not yet as fortunate and lucky as they. "I like Glueleg a lot. They're awesome guys and I really dig their vibe," gushes Coutts. "And not a young band at all, but a band we toured with this spring, is Change of Heart. Every single night they just blew my doors off, they were so good ... When you have four guys on stage with that kind of intensity and that kind of musicianship, it's pretty hard for them not to make an impression. I really like the new album, too. We played one show with them, and I went out and bought it the next day. It's been on the road with me ever since."
Of the many new Canadian bands enjoying success over the last few years, Our Lady Peace stands out as one of the leaders of the pack. After releasing their debut album, Naveed, in 1994, the band was quickly embraced by the Canadian public, promoted by a rigorous touring schedule. U.S. success, which seems to elude most Canadian bands, also came relatively easy for the group, with the single “Starseed” reaching the top 10 on Modern Rock/Alternative charts.
Now, after almost three years, Our Lady Peace is back with their new album Clumsy. They are facing the unenviable task of overcoming the dreaded “Sophomore Slump” with a fickle record-buying public.
Lead singer Raine Maida, however, seems unconcerned.
“Naveed was more like an indie record. For us, this is our first real record
where we had a lot of time to spend on it... we just experimented a lot.”
Is he concerned about matching the commercial success of the first album?
“Not really. We tried to isolate ourselves, not being influenced by the
business or the record
company... because at the end of the day, if the record stiffs, I still want to have something in my CD collection that I can be proud of.”
Maida elaborated that because of the band’s intense touring early on, they developed a grassroots following in Canada. “That holds a lot of water with us... those are the fans that will grow with the band, because they discovered [the band] for themselves rather than having us shoved down their throats by MuchMusic,” Maida said.
With producer Arnold Lanni (of Frozen Ghost-fame), they spent an intense seven months in the studio recording Clumsy.
Why? “Our biggest fear is that we’d have [even] one song on the record that’s filler.” The long recording process ensured “every song got its due attention.”
Maida believes 1995-96 were “two of the most depressing years in music.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been disappointed because there’s only one good song on a CD,” Maida said. With this lack of quality in music, Maida wonders about the future of music. “When we have kids, what are we going to give them? [Most likely] old Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Who records.” He added that, “there’s no bands for our generation... nothing to hold onto.”
Upon being asked whether Maida had any advice for aspiring musicians, he immediately responded: “You’ve got to be in control of your career. When we signed our record deal [with Sony], the only reason we did was because they gave us complete creative control. If you’re not in a position where you can make your own decision, and live and die by them, then you’re going to have regrets.”
Good words to live by. After a brief college warm-up tour (with a stop at Queen’s tomorrow night), the band plans to resume their intense touring schedule in support of Clumsy. Album sales aside, the band seems satisfied just getting out there and playing for their fans—“we’re just glad people like it.”