By Joshua Maloni
When Our Lady Peace performs Monday at the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls, the band will pay homage to its 20-year-old, Diamond-selling album, "Clumsy."
But it's their 20-day-old album, "Somethingness," that has OLP excited.
"I think the biggest gauge for us is just how it goes over live, and how these songs fit into the set; and do they feel like an outlier or do they kind of just seamlessly fit. These ones, for whatever reason, just seem to kind of - they're already part of the set, you know? Songs like 'Drop Me in the Water' definitely feel like we've been playing that song for 10 years already," frontman Raine Maida said Thursday. "And the crowd reaction to that song is just as strong as, you know, 'Clumsy' or 'Superman,' which is really interesting for us. And I think that's, that's how we probably, you know, if there's a true test for an OLP song these days, it's that. Is if we can fit it into a set and not slow it down, or not feel like, 'Why did they do that?' "
Maida recently told Canada's The National Post that "Somethingness" ranks at the top of OLP's greatest musical achievements.
"Jason (Pierce) and Duncan (Coutts) were able to work on a lot of stuff in Toronto. And Steve (Mazur) and I did the same in Los Angeles, and traded ideas back and forth. And then once we finally felt like we had enough good material, we came to L.A. and we went into the studio," Maida told this writer. "Yeah, it was really the process of, like the writing and the songs, we took our time. But then the recording of it was very different, where we recorded everything live off the floor.
"I think the energy that you get with that, as artists, and then what comes out on tape, is really tangible. You know? And I think just - it takes me back to 'Naveed.' You're just hyped and, you know, things are bleeding over each other. You can't really go fix things. And so that - you just feel that; you hear it in the songs. And I think that's a testament to where everyone is as musicians and how excited the four of us are as a band right now. I think that's where the excitement comes from.
"And I think 'Drop Me in the Water' was one of the first songs we recorded at Jackson Browne's studio in Santa Monica. And it really set the tone for the rest of the record. I think we all wanted to live up to that song on every other song."
What makes "Somethingness" something more is that fans were given the opportunity to participate in the album-making process thanks to a PledgeMusic campaign. OLP supporters provided funding for the album while, in return, the band offered behind-the-scenes videos, commemorative merchandise and exclusive prizes such as autographs, handwritten lyrics, music lessons and even a private show for one lucky person.
It was an opportunity not available when OLP first began writing and recording in Canada 25 years ago.
"You know what? I've been friends with Benji (Rogers), who's the founder, the CEO of Pledge, for like four or five years now. He's been trying to get us on that platform forever," Maida said. "I mean, I remember the first time I sat with him it was just all tiny, little indie artists. And all of a sudden, you know the last few years, it's like, 'Oh, wow, Weezer's on it. Flaming Lips are on it,' and blah blah blah.
"And so, he just built this incredible, direct-to-fan thing where it's like, you know, like you said, we didn't have that access 10 years ago. Now we can speak directly to our fans. They get a chance to kind of be inclusive, you know; they get to see the process and they get interesting things that they wouldn't have been able to, you know, to have access to in terms of lyrics or seeing studio stuff. It's just a really great relationship. And now, at this point in a career, when you've been able to keep it together for long enough, those are like friendships with your fans. Right? And so now we just get to continue those and strengthen those friendships."
Our Lady Peace (Photos by Ashley Osborn)
OLP traveled the U.S. last fall on the "20 Years of Clumsy" Tour. Maida said the band regretted not having a Buffalo-area stop (OLP had just performed outside the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in the summer). Though the band is now touring Canada with Matthew Good, OLP was able to arrange a one-off date in Niagara Falls.
"We started out on the very East Coast, Newfoundland, which we had to fly. We're slowly making our way across this country and, you know, I'm really happy that we got (to include Buffalo)," Maida said. "Buffalo was one city that we left off on the U.S. run. So, we're psyched that we were able to fit it in, squeeze it in this Canadian run."
In Niagara Falls, he explained, "We're going to pay homage to 'Clumsy.' I think we'll probably end up doing not the whole record, but a bunch of songs. ... We'll do something closer to what that U.S. tour was, so we'll probably play like six or seven 'Clumsy' songs - stuff people haven't heard for a while."
He added, "I think, what we found, even on the U.S. tour, was people were pretty amped to hear new music, as well. So, it will just be a pretty interesting mix. But I think halfway through the U.S. run we had it down. And people were just walking away from the show, I think, really satisfied with the mix of music. So, I'm pretty psyched to do it. And we get to play for a little bit longer, which is great."
Maida has oftentimes said OLP's 2014 show at the Rapids Theatre is among the band's top concerts of all time.
"Yeah. I don't know, it's such a weird thing, you know? It's like that show - I think everyone in the band would confirm that. There was something so incredibly special about that night. And I don't want to jinx this upcoming show, but we just always, always have amazing shows on that side of the border," he said. "I don't know what it is. There's just an affinity from us to the fans and how passionate they are. And it comes back. And so, when we get on stage now, like from the first note, the energy - and I remember that show - the stage was like already sweaty when we got on it from the energy in the crowd. And from like the first note the show was just like this - it just took off.
"But I think that's why we were so bummed that we couldn't fit one in on the U.S. tour. But this is going to be kind of a welcome surprise on this Canadian run."