By Keith Sharp
Our Lady Peace bassist Duncan Coutts claims it was never the intention of the band to take almost six years to record a follow up to their 2012 release `Curve’, but with the complete “Somethingness” album finally out, and a major 20-date tour with Matthew Good currently on going, Coutts claims the band is all set to make up for lost time.
“We didn’t mean to take six years to release a new record but with half the band (lead vocalist Raine Maida and guitarist Steve Mazur) residing in Los Angeles and myself and new drummer Jason Pierce living in Toronto, we had to co-ordinate our activities and it’s amazing how six weeks becomes six months without batting an eye,” noted Coutts as he packed his bags en route to flying out to St John’s Newfoundland for the band’s initial tour date with Matthew Good on March 3rd.
“Then there was the dynamic of working in new drummer Jason Pierce (who replaced founding drummer Jeremy Taggart),” Coutts explained. “It took a little time for us all to get comfortable with each other but once that fell into place, we established a new energy that I believe we captured on this record.”
For a band that cares about the creative process and is not one to quickly knock off tracks for the sake of expediency, Our Lady Peace have retained an aura of independence because they haven’t been swayed by current musical trends, at times, much to the consternation of their record company.
“When `Naveed’ first came out in 1994, Columbia Records signed the band to a North American deal because they felt we were different and a little special, but it’s fair to say that even they couldn’t figure us out,” Coutts laughed. “There was all sorts of comparisons to The Smashing Pumpkins and other alternative/grunge bands but in reality, the label probably had no idea what we were about.”
The initial success of “Starseed” and U.S tours with Plant/Page and Van Halen sparked a strong crowd reaction and even as the band continued to release future albums, they were appreciative that Columbia maintained a hands-off policy when it came to the band’s creative process.
“I think we were the definition of an indie band,” declared Coutts. “We were on one of the biggest labels in the world (Columbia) but they freed us up to make the music we want to make without any outside interference. Our attitude was that if it got played on the radio, great. But if it didn’t, then that was okay too so long as we were happy with the final release.”
Coutts admitted that their 2002 release, “Gravity” was enough of a departure that original guitarist Mike Turner left the band (to be replaced by Mazur) but it wasn’t until they struggled to release their “Healthy In Paranoid Times” album in 2005 that Columbia decided to push back.
“Those sessions dragged on and on, I don’t think we knew where we were as a band at that time,” Coutts explained. “We had changed producers from Arnold Lanni to Bob Rock before the “Gravity”
album because we felt we needed a change of direction and to be fair to Bob, maybe had hadn’t researched our background thoroughly or maybe he wanted to push us in a new direction but in retrospect, it didn’t work out.”
Our Lady Peace went on hiatus for four years while they tried to refocus, returning to the studios in 2009 to record “Burn Burn Burn” with Maida himself taking charge of production duties. But since then, with Pierce, the unofficial replacement for Taggart behind the drum kit, OLP have succeeded in maintaining a steady profile. Recording for Toronto-based Coalition Music, which has been their management company since day one, OLP has capitalized on a creative resurgence within the domestic music industry which has witnessed the likes of Big Wreck, The Tea Party, I Mother Earth and tour mate Matthew Good all continue to release key records and initiate major tours.
A big break for Our Lady Peace was scoring the opening spot on the Guns And Roses 2017 Canadian tour. “We had already recorded four tracks off the new album and as we thought “Drop In The Water” was a particularly strong track, we decided to release a four-song EP titled “Somethingness Vol 1 in advance of releasing the new album. “With the opportunity to have that many eyes and ears on you, it just made sense to have something new out for the tour,” Coutts noted.
As for the new release, Coutts is enthusiastic about the album’s contents with tracks like “Drop In The Water”, “Missing Pieces”, “Beggar Of A Poet” and his personal favourite; “Let Me Live Again” all having strong lyrical and arrangement elements that should appeal to faithful fans plus a new generation, just discovering what the original fuss was all about. We have been working with Jason Lader, (an L.A friend of Raine’s) on production for the past two albums and we all seem to be heading in the right direction.”
Touring with Matthew Good, who has his own new release, (“Something Like A Storm”) has an element of fortuitous timing that Coutts believes will work for both bands. “We’ve wanted to tour with Matt for years. Both Matt and Raine write in a very poetic fashion, we think there is a great synergy with both bands and I know that we are planning an encore to bring both Matt and Raine together, should be something very special.
The tour with OLP and Matt Good (Ascot Royals opening the initial dates until March 16th at Toronto’s Rebel venue where the Ellevators take over for the final nine dates.
For further tour information, go to ourladypiece.com.