By Joanna Orland
For most new Canadian bands, making it big in America is only a dream. The American music market is as hard to crack as a bank safe and even months of touring won’t guarantee stateside success.
So it’s big news when any band even comes close to breaking it big down South. Our Lady Peace is doing just that.
If 1997 is any indication, 1998 may be Our Lady Peace’s year. THe band’s sophomore album, Clumsy, has gone multi-platinum in Canada. Clumsy’s success is also crossing the border and slowly gathering the band and American following. Two songs, “Superman’s Dead” and “Clumsy”, are steadily gaining radio airplay on American stations.
“I don’t feel like we’re this band carrying the Canadian representation,” says Our Lady Peace bassist Duncan Coutts. Hopefully we’re known as a band that has good songs and writes good music. Then if people want to know where we’re from and what we’re about, I’ll wave the Canadian flag with the best of them.”
Coutts says Our Lady Peace does not feel hindered by their Canadian heritage and thinks people will listen because they have good songs.
“I liked REM”, says Coutts. “I didn’t like them because they were from Georgia. I liked them because they had great songs.”
In the past, there was often a negative stigma attached to Canadian bands trying to find a following in the American market, but Coutts believes that’s changing.
“Hopefully we have bands that are starting to break that down. People do mention that we’re Canadian a lot down there and some people don’t. They just like us for the music we make and then, when they find out we’re Canadian, they’re like ‘Oh Wow! That’s really cool!’, but it wasn’t like this stigma thing attached to us. It was just that they liked us for the music and I think that’s the most important.”
After finishing their U.S. tour, Our Lady Peace will embark on an arena tour across Canada which includes the Jan. 14th show in Hamilton with The Age of Electric and the Jan. 17th gig at Maple Leaf Gardens with Everclear.
“I don’t think we ever thought we’d be doing arena tours,” admits Coutts.
“We did the first tour as a warm-up tour, then we were invited to do Edgefest which was great. Then after Edgefest, we thought, ‘well let’s give it a rest for a while’, but then we were back in the States and then this whole arena possibility crept up.”
With all of their time spent touring, when will Our Lady Peace have the chance to start writing their third album?
“Your guess is as good as mine,” laughs Coutts. “We’re gonna tour until mid-February . That’s the arena tour, and then we’re gonna tour the STates again and then we have commitments in Europe and then if the States is really taking off, we’re gonna have to back there again.”
In Canada, Our Lady Peace has already released a fourth single, “Carnival” which, like most songs on Clumsy, is about growing up. But, what was the inspiration for the eerie sound in “Carnival”?
That’s a strange story actually,” begins Coutts. “ we were at a cottage writing and leaving a tape recorder all day as long as we played. Raine and Jeremy had bought a Ouija board. Jeremy decided he wanted to play with the Ouija board alone. I said, ‘Whatever you do, if you get a spirit, don’t ask if it’s bad or good. You’re asking for bad spirits’. Anyway, I thought nothing of it. Then, a few hours later, Jeremy just went into this trance, He went gray! He got up after an hour, went to bed, came back, said he’d seen ghosts for like two hours and then, I could’ve sworn I saw something run by me in my peripheral vision. Nearly knocked me into the fireplace.
“After reviewing the tapes a couple of days later, we found that theme lick. No one can remember playing it! Couldn’t remember Mike playing it! Couldn’t remember Mike playing it, couldn’t remember ever hearing it! And that’s how we started building the song, around that lick.”
In addition to the theme lick, “Carnival contains many profound lyrics. As the lyricist of the band, Raine Maida considers writing to be a craft that is replete with meaning.
“Hopefully we write songs that are relevant and will have meaning 10 years from now ‘cause we’re not a ‘baby baby’ band. Oh baby baby I love you, I want you,” sings Coutts. “That sorta thing. You don’t find ‘baby’ in our lyrics ‘cause Raine doesn’t like it that way.”
As rising stars, this Canadian act has plausible dreams for the future.
“I’d like to have a body of work outlive the band, but we’ll start with smaller goals,” says Coutts.