Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 15, 2005.
It's not a religious
reference. Honest. They know, they know, the name Our Lady
Peace sounds like it could be a designation for a Christian rock band.
It could, however, that's not what it's all about at all.
people sometimes get fooled by the name," admits the
band's lead guitarist Steve Mazur. "The name really
isn’t meant to be anything religious. It’s an old poem written by Mark
Van Doren was a famed poet
and professor at Columbia University who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
He also received less-positive recognition when his son Charles gained
fame, but then was nabbed in
game-show-fixing scandal in the late 50s.
The band members were taken by a series of anti-war poems which Van Doren
published in his 1944 book The
Seven Sleepers and Other Poems.
"When the guys were putting the band together,
it was a poem that I think [lead singer] Raine
[Maida] brought in one day,"
Mazur continues. "They all kind of
related to it. It was kind of where everybody was at, at that point. And
the poem was called ‘Our Lady Peace.’
the band being a Christian band...," he says.
"You know, we’re not devil worshipers or anything, but we’re not a
religious band in that sense -- in an organized
band started in the University of Toronto in the early 90s, where singer
Maida met a British student named Mike Turner who played a mean guitar.
The two put together a post-grunge band, with Maina on vocals and Turner
on lead guitar, recruiting bassist Chris Eacrett and a jazz-based drummer
named Jeremy Taggart. The band released their first album, Naveed,
in 1995 and even scored a modern rock hit with "Starseed." The
band's profile got bigger as they opened for Alanis Morissette's Jagged
Little Pill tour. By the time of their followup album Clumsy
came out in 1997, Eacrett had been replaced by new bassist Duncan
Coutts. With this lineup, the band released two more albums,
Happiness is Not A Fish that You Can Catch (1999) and Spiritual
band hit its current lineup when Maina and Turner had a falling out over
the direction of the band and Turner was out as lead guitarist. OLP
started setting out nets for a new lead guitarist and they landed
Detroit-native guitarist Mazur.
that I had actually been a fan of the band," Mazur says.
"I was definitely aware of the band, their
music, and I had their records. I really liked the band a lot. I moved
out to Los Angeles from Detroit, just to be in a better place where there
was more music going on. I was playing in a band and the drummer in that
band knew the guys in OLP very well. He had toured with them before in
another band. They called him, because they knew that he knew a lot of
musicians, when they were parting ways with their old guitar player,
Mike. They said, ‘Do you know anybody that you’ve been playing with or
around town?’ He said, ‘I’m playing in a band with this guy and he loves
your band. I think he’d be great.’ And he hooked us up.”
With Mazur in the fold,
Our Lady Peace released their 2002 album Gravity, which became
their commercial breakthrough, spawning the smash hit single "Somewhere
Out There." Suddenly a band that was used to having a cult following
and okay record sales was riding a hit single up the pop charts and all
over the airwaves on radio, MTV and VH1.
pretty amazing," Mazur recalls.
"It was funny, that all happened like right
after I joined, pretty much. It was very exciting. It was all new for
me… touring and playing places of that size. Having fans of the band
around. That was new for me, but all of the attention they were getting
from that song was all very new for them, too. They hadn’t quite received
attention like that before. It was a really exciting time, for sure.”
After that there was a lot
of touring and a live album. And then, nothing. So why did it
take 1,165 days (as is pointed out in the liner notes) to record their next
studio album, Healthy in Paranoid Times? Lots of things
contributed to the amount of time between releases. In order to come
to the final twelve songs on the disk, the band recorded forty-five songs
and weeded through them, debating and arguing on which song fit the feel
of the album.
really set a high standard for ourselves in making this record,"
Mazur said. "We were very serious about
it. We wanted it to be a record that kind of captures who we were. We
really wanted it to be a great record. We wouldn’t stop with anything
less than that, until we had what we thought was a great record. So we
were questioning ourselves a lot. We did a lot of experimenting. I was
new and so we all wanted to experience each other and we allowed ourselves
that freedom. From doing that experimentation, we went down a lot of
roads that were fascinating. But at the end of a lot of those roads, we
kind of realized, well, it’s cool, but it’s not us. We only went down one
of those roads that was timely, you know?”
will any of the songs that didn't make the final cut show up on OLP
“I hope some of them show
up down the road," Mazur acknowledges.
"It was difficult choosing which ones would end
up on the record, especially because we wanted the record to be a cohesive
whole. You know, where there weren’t any songs that stuck out like a sore
thumb. There were some great songs that we decided weren’t part of the
vibe of the twelve songs that we had put together. There are some of
those that I’m very
sorry aren’t on there and I really
hope turn up in the future. I think they will.”
Another thing that held up
the recording was that Maina and his wife, singer
went to Iraq to do work for the War Child charity to help children in
battle zones. Due to this experience, Healthy In Paranoid Times
is the band's most political disk yet, a Canadian band's look at war and
the world around them. The anger over modern affairs of state boil
over in songs like "Will the Future Blame Us" and even laps over into a
breakup song like "Wipe That Smile Off of Your Face." As the US
citizen in the band, Mazur also finds himself looking at the news of the
world in disbelief.
Future Blame Us’ is kind of looking at not just wars and political unrest
and things that are going on," Mazur explains,
"but just all kinds of things that we’re doing
right now. Sort of wondering forward to will our kids look at us and say,
‘Look at this world. There are so many things that are fucked up. We
don’t even have water we can drink. There’s
all these things that are gone and destroyed that you once had.' We could
be headed for some real bad times if things keep going the way they are.
Things could start to get real, real shallow.
It's a song
looking forward at someone looking back at us.
Will they blame us
for the way things are fifty years from now, a hundred years from now?”
The album also looks
pointedly at the mixture of government and spirituality in the angry
protest song "Where Are You,"
about the politicization of religion by the far right.
Maina said that after doing
the charity work in Africa, he felt a bit
of culture shock when he returned home. The
idea of the song resounds with
Mazur, as well.
“It’s looking for a purpose for
everything that’s going on in our world nowadays," he
says. "In the Western World, it
definitely resonates with me. I can hardly watch TV or listen to the
radio anymore. Because you hear and see all these things that seem so
purposeless. I think all of us feel that there is a greater, beautiful
thing out there that’s whirling around. But it gets harder and harder to
find, it seems like, these days. Because
there’s so much crap out there and everything is so driven towards
people making money, so they can be secure. Where is the beauty that we
all know is out there? That question asking ‘Where Are You?,’ where is
that? That’s how I interpret the song. It definitely resonates with me.”
does the band feel pressure to have a big hit to follow up "Somewhere Out
There" and Gravity? It would be nice, sure, but
they aren't losing sleep over it. That is not what the band is all
“You know what? The music business right now
is such a bizarre and crazy place that we’re really kind of over that,"
Mazur admits. "We really just don’t care
about it. We don’t write hits. We’re not that kind of band. We just
write stuff that we feel. It just so happens one of those songs took off
on the last record. But, we’re not a band that can sit there and write
hits. We don’t try to do that. That’s not the way we work. So,
pressure-wise, honest to God, the only pressure we feel is the one we put
on ourselves. To keep growing and to make our live show as good as we
Besides, the fact that "Somewhere Out There" became so ubiquitous it led
to some weird little tremors through the music world that paint the group
in a different way that is expected by the band's long-time fan base.
“I’ve heard recently because of the success of ‘Somewhere
Out There’ on our last record, that a lot of people think we’re like this
lite-FM sort of soft rock kind of band. That’s definitely not what we’re
all about. That’s kind of a bothersome thing I’ve heard lately. Don’t
think that we’re secretary rock!" Mazur
it out, we put everything we have into making our music, and we’re
definitely not secretary rock.”
what is Our Lady Peace? How would Mazur like for people to see their
“I really would hope that it comes across as…
just us. I don’t know how to explain it. But not that we were pushing
this kind of music or pushing that kind of music, but that it was just us
four people really putting out our personalities out there. That it was
distinctively, unquestionably, us.”
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