Canada has done one mighty fine job of supplying the world with rock music for over 50 years and hasn’t eased up. The wave of rock stars emerging from Canada all started with Paul Anka in the early ’60s, but the ’90s was really an era like no other.
The rise of grunge and alternative music kicked off the ’90s, started a rock revolution and changed the Canadian rock scene forever.
I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace and Tea Party are among the top leading bands that came to rule the scene and radio airwaves across Canada and the United States.
Hailing from Toronto and fronted by lead vocalist Edwin, I Mother Earth made their solid debut in 1993. IME’s debut gold record was rewarded with a Juno Award for Best Hard Rock Album of 1994.
The rockers earned two more Juno nominations to go with their double platinum sophomore album Scenery and Fish in 1997.
Close behind I Mother Earth, Raine Maida led Our Lady Peace to their claim to fame in 1994. While selling millions of albums worldwide, OLP was nominated for 20 Juno Awards, winning four in prestigious categories.
The Tea Party was nominated for 13 Juno Awards over their 15-year reign.
It was lead Jeff Martin’s progressive, experimental and distinct sound that brought the trio praise and success.
The three legendary front men share their views on the Canadian rock scene.
Can you look back at the scene that you started out in?
Raine Maida: It’s weird to look back. Look at some bands Our Lady Peace started up with. I Mother Earth, Moist and Tea Party, we were all doing well at the same time, but for whatever reason, they didn’t make it. Music comes in trends and happens in circles. It was a period where heavy music definitely had its moment.
Jeff Martin: It became a time of change and change is necessary. It’s like my decision to leave the Tea Party. It was a time when artistically it had reached a point, like a due date.
Edwin: Heavy rock sounds were more in style then. It was the grunge era. Heavy attitude, guitar distortions, and big drum sound were the flavors of the day.
From the sounds of it, Canadian rock music’s sound has lightened up. Will the heaviness come back?
Raine: It will come back again. The mainstream has changed, so I don’t know if radio will embrace it as it did. But there is a heaviness coming back based on musicianship. It’s happening. My new with record with OLP feels closer to Naveed than the others and it is probably some of the best work we’ve done in a long time.
Edwin: There still is a wide variety of heavy rock bands, it’s just the mainstream doesn’t promote heavier rock, so you don’t hear a lot of it. My sound has lightened up over time, but I’ve come full circle now. The next record I make is probably going to be the heaviest I’ve made so far.
Jeff: I haven’t lived in Canada for some time, so I’m going to have to reassess the scene when I return. Maybe I’ll help bring a little more heaviness back into the Canadian rock scene when I come back with my band.
What have you brought to the scene and still try to offer?
Jeff: What I tried to do with the Tea Party was take rock music, meld it, and fuse it with music from different parts of the world. We were always looking way beyond our backdoor. I still am.
Raine: We never wanted to make our last record again. Naveed was straight up rock and roll, and then we didn’t want to make Clumsy again, so Happiness was way out there. We try not to repeat ourselves, for better or for worse.
Edwin: I’ve always enjoyed both aspects of rock, the lighter side and the heavier side. The two work really well together. I love to rock out, scream, and put on a high-energy show, but I also try to offer songs that people can sing along to.
How do you keep up with the changing times and trends in the music world?
Jeff: If you’re an artist who is obsessed with keeping up with the times, then I think you’ve lost your integrity. It shouldn’t be about that. It’s about looking within all the time and reassessing where your soul and passion is at. It shouldn’t have to do with trends.
Raine: You need to bring in fresh perspectives or it all gets stale. I’m happy I tapped into the indie scene with my solo album when I did. It got me re-inspired by music in a way that I only had vague memories of before OLP had a record deal. It’s like tapping into the naivety again.
Edwin: You can’t be afraid of boundaries. I love so many different styles of music. I like experimenting. You need growth.
What do you see in the future of Canadian rock?
Raine: There is some incredible Canadian music, probably the best it’s ever been and I’m psyched to still be a part of it. Art is coming back into the music again in a really positive way.
Jeff: The Canadian rock scene will always be very much its own thing, a good thing, and it doesn’t need to look much further than its borders.
Edwin: Canadian mainstream media shouldn’t be looking at what the other guy’s doing or what is successful somewhere else. Let’s just take the ball and run with it.