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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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?
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
DB: And as we've discussed, the industry
is changing so much, but the one thing that isn't changing are
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!
I want to thank Jeremy Taggart and Our
Lady Peace for accepting my request for interview. Best of luck
with the tour!