Interview: Our Lady Peace
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With their eighth album Curve, released last month, and involvement on the newly released Music for Occupy, we were eager to catch up with Our Lady Peace to discuss their mini tour, and upcoming plans.
You guys are about 15 shows into your current Urban Grind Tour. How's the tour going so far?
Raine: Yeah 20 dates pretty evenly split between the US and Canada. This is basically a mini tour to get the record going. We really wanted to try stuff out live, a bunch of the new material, so we've been playing over half - six songs per night which I think is a lot when you're asking fans who haven't heard the record yet. But it's been going over really well.
Curve is your 8th album and it just dropped in the US today. It's the first album you guys have released completely independent of a major record label. What does it mean to be able to create an album independently and what sort of limitations does that take off of you to create the album you want to create?
Raine: I think for the first four records we did under Columbia and Sony, there was a lot of freedom, there was a lot of liberty that we took. Our first record no one really heard it until it was done. Once Clumsy came out and there was some success with that, people were a little more curious in terms of the label but we were never one of those bands that had to send in demos or stuff like that before we started recording or while we were recording. We were granted some great freedom. And then the music business started to collapse a bit and our label in New York, like most labels, started to get a bit nervous about stuff so they started asking for songs.
I feel when that shift happened, probably around 2000, not that we lost our way but we tried some different things. We did some more stripped down rock records but the Curve is getting back to having that freedom and naivety as artists is a really powerful thing for us and where we create the best in that mindset.
I had a chance to listen to the album when it came out in Canada a few weeks ago. It is a bit of a different sound for you guys. There have been some ups and downs for you guys over the past 10 years. Is the album title 'Curve' indicative of where the band is at today? Does Curve represent a change in direction somewhat for OLP?
Raine: Definitely. This is a band 8 records in trying to redefine their sound. We looked at Bowie, Peter Gabriel, artists like that as inspirations for this record to really dig and reinvent ourselves. I think that this is the record we've been trying to make for 10 years now. I don't anyone would sit here and say we did it but we definitely got close.
Steve: I think it's the first time I can remember actually sitting down and having a conversation. We actually recorded four or five songs and decided to trash them when we decided to have our friend Jason produce the record. It's the first time I can remember actually having a sit down conversation about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to go about it and it was a really inspiring conversation. We decided that we wanted to challenge everything that we do from the drums to chord progressions to how things sound melodically. It was a great conversation and a great way to start the record.
Curve features Canadian boxer George Chuvalo on the cover and conversations with him are heard in the track Mettle. How did you first meet George and did his story inspire the entire album or had you written some of the album before meeting him?
Raine: We discussed making this record so once you do that, you go into the creative process in the studio with a rough idea of where you're trying to go. For my lyrically, the parallels between boxing and fighting and being in a band and going through this last ten years and the mayhem with the label and struggling with trying to define who we were as musicians and artists, it all came to this great climax in the studio when we were making this record. I felt that those parallels and those metaphors of feeling like you got knocked down and being able to get up and i think this is that record where we finally stood back up and are fighting again.
They became so evident that I went on the Internet and found this picture of this old boxer. He was an American guy from the 50's or 60's and it just had this image of him beaten up after a fight and it for me it just made sense and represented what what we were trying to say musically. But then we discussed it and we felt that you don't know this guy, there isn't a story there. Why don't we find a Canadian and then we can actually maybe develop a relationship and find someone.
Then George's name came up and you discover the tragedy he's had outside of the ring so you take that with the type of fighter that he was inside the ring and you just realize that he's such a fighter inside and out. So we just called him. Jeremy and Duncan were in Toronto one day and they went up and met him and he was really gracious. He picked the picture that's on the cover out of an old box of photos. Then I went up there one day and recording him much like we are today and just kind of asked him questions but not really. I just kind of prodded him and he just spoke. He's so full of wisdom. He's 74 years old and he has all of his faculties. He's full of determination, full of a real appreciation for life having lost two children and his wife to both suicide and addiction, I think he understands the value of relationships and the value of friendship and the value of being really true to those. His wife Joanne is just a force of nature and they were really gracious to us. We cut up some of the profound things that he said to us. Steve had this piece of music that was just melodies and lyrics but we felt like let's not make this just a regular song so we took some of my lyrics out and took some of those things and mixed them in.
Was that Mettle?
Raine: Yeah Mettle is the track and really for us, it's kind of a testament to George. I don't want to say it's a gift because that sounds pretentious but it's our thanking him for being involved in this project.
Steve: Someone like that who was a very successful heavyweight fighter, fought in tons of fights, that alone is a great accomplishment. And then to go through that and have all the tragedy that he's had in his life; someone like that could very easily be bitter or closed off and being a boxer not be all there and wouldn't want to talk and be a positive person. But when we met him, he is such an inspiring person to be around and he's so genuinely kind and wants to just talk and share things with you that I think we were all pretty inspired by that. Having him speak on the song was a way of sharing that with other people.
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