Our Lady Peace (Contemporary Musicians)
Toronto based quartet Our Lady Peace has estab lished itself as one of Canada's most successful alternative rock bands. Indeed, the band's heavy, melodic sound coupled with singer Raine Maida's emotional lyrics have earned Our Lady Peace something very foreign to most Canadian artists-a sizeable American audience. Although touring with rock super stars Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Van Halen, and the Rolling Stones ensured the band massive U.S. exposure, the key to their state-side success, says Maida, is what the did with that exposure. "They [fans] don't care that we're from Canada," remarked Maida in Jam! Music. "They just care that they're connecting with the music and lyrics.
Our Lady Peace had humble beginnings. The first two members, Maida and guitarist Mike Turner, met while studying at the University of Toronto in 1992, and soon recruited Chris Eacrett on bass, and drummer Jeremy Taggart. Duncan Coutts joined band in October 1995, replacing Eacrett on bass. The quartet took its name from Mark Van Doren's poem called "Our Lady Peace." The band sent unsolicited demos to a number of large labels, and were shocked and amazed when Sony Music Canada gave them not only a contract, but complete creative control. They signed with Sony Music Canada after only 14 months together, seven shows under their belts, only four songs produced, and no touring experience. Maida told Mike Ross of Express Writer, "We were a bunch of naive kids."
Debut Bearer of Good News
In March of 1994, Our Lady Peace released its debut album, Naveed, on Sony Canada; it debuted in the United States on Relativity Records one year later. According to Billboard the album means "bearer of good news," and reflects a title of Middle Eastern influence. In its review of Naveed, Entertainment Weekly noted the "anguished vocals a la Pearl Jam, and churning guitars by way of Stone Temple Pilots ," and called it an album that definitely would attract "grunge addicts." A New York Times critic called Our Lady Peace's music "passionate, hones, empathetic."
The single, "Starseed," brought the band it's first taste of major success, reaching th Top Ten in Canada as well as the Top 40 in the United States. Although the single initially received limited radio play in Canada, the video received extensive exposure on Canada's MuchMusic video channel. "Starseed" also caught the attention of rock god Robert Plant's ear during radio play in New York during 1995. Plant contacted Our Lady Peace's management and before they knew it, the band was opening for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in Chicago. Plant told the band how much he "loved" the record, and he felt they emitted the most "conviction" he had noticed in a band in a number of years. In addition to opening for Page and Plant, the band has toured extensively in the United States and Canada with other major acts. In 1995 and 1996 they opened for Van Halen and Alanis Morissette in Edmonton, and, in November of 1997, they opened for the Rolling Stones in Quebec City. Since their beginning, the band has performed over 400 live shows, for over a half million people.
Clumsy's Sales Hardly Ungainly
In early 1997, Our Lady Peace signed to Columbia Records and released their second album, Clumsy. Although one reviewer, Jan Stevenson of the Toronto Sun, found Clumsy a bit lacking in "passion and originality, making this sophomore effort less powerful than their winning debut," the band's fans apparently felt differently. The album debuted at number one on the Canadian pop chart, and within three weeks of release sold over 100,000 units. Clumsy was recorded at Arnyard Studios in Toronto by Arnold Lanni, who produced their debut album, as well. The album's first single, "Superman's Dead," gained the band exposure on MTV. Maida provided some insight into the lyrics of "Superman's Dead" in an interview with Karen Bliss of Jam! Music. He discussed the difficulties kids have growing up in today's world, and about how strong the messages are from the media. He compared the old Superman shows and to today's Beavis and Butt-Head. "
He [Superman] was a real hero but I think Beavis and Butt-Head wins today."
One of Maida's biggest heroes in singer, Sinead O'Connor. Maida admires her ability to pour herself out to audiences, and told Kerry Gold of the Vancouver Sun that, "she [O'Connor], for me, is the ultimate." Other inspirations for Maida include Otis Redding, U2, Janis Joplin, and Stevie Wonder. In an interview with Alternative Rock World online, the other members claimed to be "music junkies," naming Radiohead, Portishead, U2, the Beatles, and Elton John as some of their musical influences.
Change of Venue Required Adaptation
After several years of touring as a support band for better known bands, Our Lady Peace began its first headlining tour in 1998. This tour took them out of the small intimate clubs and on to the stages of large arenas. While the increased size of the venues they were now playing called for many technical adjustments, it also created certain emotional problems, such as the band's ability to remain connect with the audience. In an attempt to compensate for the size and lack of intimacy of large arenas, Our Lady Peace shot a series of short films to accompany their live concerts, hoping to reach each member of their audiences, emotionally, regardless of one's proximity to the stage.
With two hit albums and over 400 live performances in the United States and Canada, it looks like Our Lady Peace has two countries conquered, with thousands of fans on both sides of the border. The band hopes to have staying power, too, using their arena tours as an opportunity to secure their relationship with fans. It appears their fears of being just another "disposable" band or being aone-hit wonder are groundless. As Lisa Wilton of the Calgary Sun said, "it was only a matter of time before Our Lady Peace attempts to take on the world." To which Maida replied, "Absolutely."
Naveed, (included "Starseed"), Sony Canada, 1994; Relativity, 1995
Clumsy, (includes "Superman's Dead"), Columbia, 1997.
Billboard, February 25, 1995, p. 18.
Calgary Sun, August 26, 1997; January 8, 1998.
CNN Interactive, November 19, 1997.
Entertainment Weekly, March 312, 1995, p. 62.
Express Writer, January 21,1997; August 29,1997; January 18, 1998.
Free Press (Detroit), February 9, 1998.
Jam! Music, November 20, 1997.
Ottawa Sun, January 17, 1998.
Pollstar, October 13, 1997.
Scrawl Magazine, Spring 1998.
Sound Check, November/December 1997.
Toronto Sun, May 20, 1995; January, 19, 1997; January 21, 1997; January 8, 1998.
Vancouver Sun, January 22, 1998.
Additional information was provided by Columbia Records' publicity, Fran DeFeo, New York, NY.