Raine Maida has become an icon fronting Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace and after 10 years he stands alone and delivers his most personal and driven work to date.
A huge departure from Our Lady Peace’s massive arena rock sound, his first solo effort, The Hunter’s Lullaby, is an unpredictable collection of 10 compelling, timeless songs built on the foundations of spoken word and poetry.
While recording his Lullaby at the late hours of night, solely with the use of acoustic instruments, the new soloist got a little help from his friends. Singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk plays piano and vocally backs her husband. Victor Indrizzo (Beck, Gnarls Barkley) drums through the album, Joseph Karnes (My Brightest Diamond, John Cale) plays the upright bass and poet/activist Jared Paul speaks on “The Less I know.”
The Hunter’s Lullaby is a daring album in which Maida summons a force and inspiration shared by the likes of significant artists like Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith, and the social consciousness of activists like Amy Goodman, Jared Paul, and David Suzuki.
This is a Raine Maida never seen or heard before. Fans of Our Lady Peace will not find familiarities within the album, but it would be foolish to turn down an invitation to peer deeper into the soul of the rocker that most grew to know over the past 10 years.
After busking through the streets of Toronto to raise money for War Child and following the preparations required for the album’s launch, the singer discusses his solo project on the eve of its release.
Why make The Hunter’s Lullaby such a huge departure from a sound that the world became so familiar with?
This is very separate and distinct from what Our Lady Peace does. I would never want to step on Our Lady Peace’s toes. For me to make a record that sounds like OLP but just softer or more acoustic would have been a copout, so weak and just a disservice to OLP. I felt like this was the way to go.
And for the question artists loathe, how would you define your new album’s sound?
The most difficult thing for an artist to do is to look in the mirror and distinguish what you are. On this record I could say that it’s a mishmash of spoken word, acoustic folk and God only knows what else.
How is The Hunter’s Lullaby fit to be the title of your first solo album?
That was what I was doing, hunting. From the moment I took the first piece of poetry I had and put a beat to it, it was like me going off into the wild by myself trying to hunt down this new direction and creative energy.
Why a new direction after 10 years?
Ultimately when a band has made it passed its 10 year point, which we have and stayed intact, you need to bring in fresh perspectives otherwise it can get stale.
I’ve wanted to make a record like this for a while but I just didn’t want to do it under a major label. I know this is different and for me to give this to a label like Sony, they wouldn’t know what to do with it. This is so personal to me that I needed to own it.
Is there a difference between writing lyrics to music the way you do wth OLP and putting poetry to the way you have on your own?
Being in a rock band I learned that it is difficult to write a poem and put it to music. There is a structure to rock music like it or not. In OLP I found that everything I wrote as a piece of poetry just got way too compromised in the end. I quickly stopped and started writing lyrics. When I write songs with OLP I start with some melodies and write some words.
Over the years I got back into poetry and spoken word. I became inspired by that again.
I started writing again and made the bridge again to music, but on a completely different level. I started with poems and kept them intact, brought beats underneath that and then made a progression through a musical landscape. It’s a very separate thing and I respect both equally. Not one has more value than the other.
Of the themes running through The Hunter’s Lullaby there is a sense of reality and a warning about being careful what you wish for.
Everything that you want comes with responsibilities. It comes down to “Yellow Brick Road” where I flipped the cliché “if I knew then what I knew now” to “if I knew now what I knew then.”
You lose a piece of yourself with every responsibility. You loose that innocence, the rebelliousness, that “f— youness” that makes you vibrant and that thing that makes you think that you can change the world.
Take university. You have marks to get and student loans to pay off. That takes away from the whole “I’m going to change the world.”
Speaking of changing the world, why did you go busking through the streets of downtown Toronto for 12 straight hours to raise money for War Child a couple weeks ago?
You can’t be a part of something if you’re doing it through the Internet or some place comfortable. People like Jared Paul are the real deal. This guy is a social worker. He protests, marches, gets thrown in jail and speaks his mind. He is a brilliant guy. I’m a Monday morning activist. I just pick up a guitar.
Jared Paul appears on the album and so does Chantal Kreviazuk. What is it like to share the writing process with your wife?
It’s so easy. We would start with a piano riff and build a song. We didn’t have any boundaries. It was very freeing.
What was it about the late hours of night that allowed you to record this album so freely?
I have two young kids so there is a great window between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. I was in my studio at that time of night and I could just create.
What have your children taught you about life
They’ve definitely taught me to look at things with a different view. If I walk outside in the backyard I’ll see sh– that needs to be cleaned up or disasters out there. They walk outside and see clouds in the sky that look like puppy dogs. It’s just a whole different perspective on how you perceive life. I appreciate that and try to have some of that mentality.
How do you hope your children will perceive you when they are old enough to understand what daddy does for a living?
They will definitely get to know Our Lady Peace’s music, but I know they’re going to judge this record. There’s nothing like knowing it was just your dad who created something. In a way they will get to know me a little deeper than they would have no matter how much I talk to them and try to explain things. When you listen to someone singing words you get a different perspective and this time it is going to be their father.
This was a big responsibility that I took on and I like that pressure. I had to be careful because I know they will judge me by this.
Were you scared to bare yourself to the world on such a personal level?
If you’re not scared of something you won’t propel yourself to do things. The only way you can be courageous is if you’re fearful.
How do your band mates in OLP feel about your decision to create a solo project?
They’re cool with it. It’s not like Our Lady Peace has stopped. We’re making an Our Lady Peace record right now and we’ve recorded seven or eight songs already. I’m more energized now than I’ve been in five years. There is this raw energy again. It feels like we just got a record deal and we’re rehearsing in a garage.
Everything feels vibrant again.
The Hunter’s Lullaby hits stores on Nov. 13, what do you think OLP fans will think of the new Raine Maida?
I’m realistic about this. This music is not really for the masses. Some people will think this is crap. If they love Our Lady Peace, they won’t hear the same kind of songs. There are no big arena rock songs. Some people who are into Our Lady Peace for the lyrics and the deeper stuff might connect to this.
But I’m the same person. I just have different ways of expressing myself and I want to keep them separate. The Hunter’s Lullaby is an extension of me. You get to know me a little bit more.