The Evolution of Our Lady Peace
By Dave Schwartz

Fifteen years and seven albums have brought Our Lady Peace (OLP) full circle. The heady days of a band just starting out returned in many ways. No longer reliant on a traditional record company / band arrangement, OLP took control of the reins and their own future. After a brief hiatus, OLP came together to produce and record their newest album, "Burn Burn" which has been released through WMG - Independent Label Group. 

I met Jeremy Taggart, drummer for OLP, on their tour bus. It was two hours before the show and Taggart was in good spirits.

JT: How are you doing tonight?

DB: Not so bad. Nice tour bus. I'm sure this makes life easier while traveling down that road to the next show.

JT: Yeah, it's been nice.

DB: Well first of all, congratulations on the new record, "Burn Burn." Why don't you go ahead and tell me a little about it.

JT: It's our first attempt at making a record by ourselves, producing and recording it ourselves. I think it was a situation that after making six records with a lot of really talented people, we figured that this was our opportunity to really take a chance. We've learned a lot of stuff. Going on our gut instinct, we thought we could make a record and we did.

DB: Did any one member of the band assume responsibility of producer or was this more collaborative?

JT: No we just kind of started and went at our own pace recording songs and at the end of three years we sat down and listened to what we had tracked over the six or seven sessions. The songs just kind of picked themselves. We listened to the 15 or 16 tracks that we recorded and then just narrowed it down to the ten favorites.

DB: It's amazing that you took so long to make this record. What was the reasoning? Obviously you didn't have the record company pushing on you, so was this just a matter of find the right vibe?

JT: Every record that we've ever done has taken as long as it was suppose to take. We've never tried to make a deadline, that doesn't really work. It's wrong to try and accomplish something, but then you've got to be on the road or you've got to do something and that becomes more important than the record. So we just figure that when the record's done it's done. This record took as long as it did because that's how long it took. The fact that we didn't have any pressure made this one of the most enjoyable records we've made. We weren't thinking that we needed something at a certain time, we just kept writing and recording until we felt that we had enough songs. We hoped that people would understand. When we play every night, new songs or old songs, it's the same thing., it's just us performing as a band. This record is just another capture of our live show. We tried to make the new record as live as possible, so that when we play these songs live in the clubs or theaters people would instantaneously get what we're doing.

DB: An it certainly is easy to sit in the studio and try to make a record "perfect," but really all you're doing is taking the soul out of it.

JT: And that's why we picked really simple parts. We took bass, drums and guitar and really simplified each part so when we play live, that's all it is. We weren't trying to get somewhere by tracking and adding overdubs. Me, Duncan and Steve would be sitting in the room and recording the songs and now here we are playing them live and it feels pretty much the same. It's not like we felt like we had to get into that mode of making an album and putting together 50 tracks and trying to perfect every little thing and going back to songs and re-cutting songs...

DB: You certainly get a sense of that live feel on the record.

JT: Yeah, I think it's totally that. This record is very obvious in that sense. When we play the songs there's no--  I don't want to say they're simple but it's bass, drums and guitar. A guitar on the left and a guitar on the right. That's pretty much how it is on every song as opposed to layering five guitars and adding keyboards and all this other stuff to create a vibe. The groove of the album is very old school.

DB: And when you add all of that instrumentation, you find yourself having to recreate it live as well. As you know, that can sometimes be a real challenge.

JT: So we felt that it would be best to sort of break things down to their simplest parts and then make them interesting.

DB: I noticed that you released "Burn Burn" on Warner Music's Independent Label Group. Was this a further extension of the band taking control of every aspect of this record?

JT: Yeah, well yeah. You know it's funny. After 15 years of being on a label and seeing how everything goes, we've always been really involved in seeing what happens to our career. We've always been involved in every decision. But now we own our own stuff, own our record and can shop it to different people. It kind of makes it feel even better, more in control.

DB: You've certainly just laid out the recent evolution of the music business.

 

As I search for the next question in my notes, Taggart, a huge hockey fan, is distracted by the hockey game on the big screen.:  "Looks like there's going to be a shoot out." Knowing that the band is from the Toronto area I asked about the Maple Leafs. Very distracted he commented that - as of the date of the interview - the Leafs hadn't won a game... Taggart didn't seem too happy about it.

DB: You've just released your second single from this record, "The End Is Where We Begin." Tell me about the song.

JT: That was the last song we recorded. We tracked it in like four hours!

DB: Yeah, I noticed during my research that the song was listed as a late addition to the album.

JT: Yeah, we kind of went back to L.A. to see if we could work on a couple of ideas that were a little more up-tempo. "All You Did Was Save My Life" (the first single) and "The End Is Where We Begin" were the last two songs. They definitely tied everything together in terms of what we needed for tempos.

DB: We already mentioned that the title of this album is "Burn Burn," I read that it is a reference to a novel by Jack Kerouac. What led to this inspiration?

JT: Well I know that Raine (Maida, OLP's vocalist) is a big Jack Kerouac fan. He's always been into his observant idealism., you know, just kind of going through life and just checking out everything and write about it. I can't explain to you Raine's draw to this, but it was enough to bring about the "Burn Burn" quote.

DB: OLP has been together for 15 years, you've released seven albums, what has been the evolution of the band? What do you think has changed the most from the beginning to now?

JT: The best way bands stay together is communicating and keeping everything continually flowing. We're a very democratic band and I think that has a lot to do with it too. I don't think that has changed since the beginning. I think that we've gotten more individually involved. I think bands begin to dissolve when one person just kind of takes the reins either because they have to or want to. We've always worked best when we're just trying to do our jobs. By doing our jobs individually we're constantly inspiring everybody else.

DB: I know that the band took a short hiatus before this album came out. Was this an opportunity for everyone to spread their wings and work on solo projects?

JT: Yeah, actually I think it was a "low-atus" as opposed to a hiatus! Really because we were kind of sick and tired of the business. It wasn't like we said, OK Our Lady Peace is done or anything, it was just like fuck, it was really hard and it was the first time we had seen a record company fall apart in front of our eyes. We needed a break and it had more to do with the business in general.

DB: How soon do you think you'll get back to recording the next record?

JT: Actually we'll start fleshing out ideas in the New Year, January. We're still putting together tour plans for Europe and Canada. That will be in the late spring and summer. I think that because we enjoyed making this last record and playing these shows, everything is still thriving as far as being a band and going out and touring and being creative. We're going to just keep doing it. We definitely don't feel like we need a break or anything.

DB: And as we've discussed, the industry is changing so much, but the one thing that isn't changing are the fans.

JT: Live music and performance-based bands will always have a fan base. Again, a band stays together as long as they want to. If you can find a little bit of success and you're good live, the world is your oyster. You may not be in the charts and sell 5 million albums each release, but that's not what this is about. This is about being able to play, perform and have a creative voice. But sometimes other things in life overshadow the whole rock star entity.

DB: Well I think I've exhausted my questions. Would you like to talk about anything else? Want to talk about the Leafs?

JT: No! I don't want to talk about the Leafs! If you want, we can talk about Harold Ballard fucking the Leaf's! The reason why we're still here is Harold Ballard. It ain't Gary Bettman's fault, it's Ballard's fault!

DB: You are a bitter man!

JT: Yes!

I want to thank Jeremy Taggart and Our Lady Peace for accepting my request for interview. Best of luck with the tour!

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