Basically starting out as a garage band in Toronto about four years ago, vocalist Raine Maida, guitarist Mike Turner, bassist/keyboardist Duncan Coutts and drummer Jeremy Taggart recorded a three-song demo. With no expectations, they sent that demo unsolicited to a few major labels. Imagine the shock when not one, but several majors started calling. It was a surprise the band was not really prepared for.
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. S WING, CALYPSO, DIXIELAND, SALSA — mix them all together and you've got the unique