Back in 1995, I was working at an indie CD store when we got a box of new releases. Like normal, the order was incorrect. The distribution company had sent us 20 copies of a new band called Our Lady Peace. The boss was skeptical and asked me if I thought the debut album Naveed would sell 20 copies. Being a regular viewer of the Canadian video channel Much Music, I had heard Our Lady Peace’s “Starseed” single and told the boss he should keep them all.
Now, 14 years later, the band has released their seventh full-length studio album Burn Burn. It’s been four years since we have heard any new material, but they haven’t been missing in action entirely. Front man Raine Maida released his first solo CD Hunter’s Lullaby in 2008. The band released Decade in 2006, a greatest-hits album celebrating the first 10 years of Our Lady Peace, who took their name as a tribute to a Mark Van Doren poem.
The four-year break was much needed for the band – Raine Maida (vocalist), Duncan Coutts (bass), Jeremy Taggart (drums) and Steve Mazur (guitar). During their last recording for 2005’s Healthy in Paranoid Time, there was a lot of tension, almost to the point that Our Lady Peace ended then and there.
So fans must wonder if it was hard for the band to get back in the groove after such a long break.
“The flow of the writing was amazing. Ideas exploded, probably due to the long layoff,” Maida explained. “We were all very excited to get back to Our Lady Peace. The main thing about the writing process this time was to not be precious with the ideas. If anything felt forced, we abandoned it immediately.”
Together again, the Canadian quartet have stripped away any signs of wanting to be like the electronic Radiohead or the politically charged U2. Instead, they made a modernized, rock record. After all, that is what they are known for. Our Lady Peace is simply a rock band. They get the fist pumping when their guitar riffs are big, and when they slow down, their music becomes an anthem for the crowds to sing.
In the aforementioned four-year break, Maida and his fellow Canadian musician wife, Chantal Kreviazuk, started a family. Maida also ventured into uncharted territory as a solo musician. Both events went on to affect the singer’s writing style for Burn Burn.
“Having children puts a greater weight on the songs for me,” Maida said. “My children will ultimately get to know me by my lyrics, so I’m a little more careful with them knowing that. The solo record was a great step toward convincing the band that we could make a record on our own at my studio in Los Angeles.”
Not only has Maida taken on the roles of father, solo artist and frontman to Our Lady Peace, he has taken on additional duties as a record producer. He produced his solo record and his wife’s forthcoming release, and now he has handled the production for Our Lady Peace’s new record.
“It was very organic [recording Burn Burn]. We all basically know what we like and dislike from past OLP records. The plan was to take what we like and expand on those principles. Again, we did not force or compromise anything on Burn Burn. That is our greatest achievement.”
“The album title came from a Jack Kerouac quote from ‘On the Road,’” Maida said. “It’s about enlightenment, flying above the status quo, freedom liberation etc. … There were great parallels between that quote and the way the band felt making this record. We own the masters. We chose not to work with an outside producer, and it was very liberating to have that much control.”
And for those die-hard Our Lady Peace fans, it is obvious that the old man who has become a central character in the art work of their albums has been missing. But now with the new album, he is back. Well, sort of.
“The man on the cover of Burn Burn isn’t Saul Fox, who has appeared on five OLP covers; however, the resemblance is uncanny,” Maida said. “And the serendipitous nature that has it looking like Saul is fine by us. There are certain elements of Burn Burn that remind us of the first two OLP records, and Saul’s energy on those records, in terms of being on the cover, was important to us. We view Burn Burn as a bit of a rebirth for the band, and thus the younger Saul works.”