Whether drifting over radio airwaves or a telephone line, Raine Maida’s voice is always distinctive: sort of rusty and red-blooded but known for reaching startling and effeminate highs in Our Lady Peace hits like “Superman’s Dead”. Speaking to the Straight about the band’s new album, Curve, Maida sounds a bit sapped, but his creative vision is more resolute than it has been for a long time. “This record is the one we’ve been trying to make for the past 10 years,” he says. “And it almost erases the last 10 years for me. It’s been a real reawakening for us.”
Maida admits to feeling that OLP lost its way with the last few albums before finding itself again with Curve, its eighth effort. “There were moments when we got caught up in the bullshit politics of, ‘Oh, we don’t hear a single here,’ and the artistic side of this band got put on the back burner,” he says with a sigh. “Now, we have more of a ‘fuck you’-ness where we’re confident as artists, and I don’t think we can be bullied around by labels or the business anymore.”
This renewed sense of purpose is reflected in the songwriting choices for Curve. Produced by a friend of the band’s, Jason Lader, the album shifts between familiar territory—like the buoyant melodies of singles “Heavyweight” and “As Fast As You Can”—and a more exploratory approach. “Allowance”, for instance, draws its adventurous vocals and clarion chorus from early U2, while the phantasmagoric “Window Seat” takes its cue from Radiohead.
Texturally and rhythmically, the band made a point to challenge itself, gleaning courage from influences like David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, and the best bits of its own past. Performing the entirety of early albums Clumsy and Spiritual Machines on its 2010 Recreation tour had a profound effect on the band’s psyche. “It really took us back to the headspace we were in when we were creating [Spiritual Machines],” Maida says. “It was never about big hits—it was an experimental concept record. So [that tour] was a great reminder of where we like to exist.”
While Curve is no concept record, its point of view springs from a comparison between artists and boxers conjured up by Maida during the album’s songwriting process. “Being in the studio or honing your craft and writing songs, that parallels a boxer’s training,” he explains. “And when you’re on-stage, you’re naked up there the same way a boxer is in a fight. It’s either going to knock you down or make you stronger. There’s a lot of sweat and inner turmoil that goes into it.”
Although Our Lady Peace has never been in the ring, it has taken quite a few punches for straying from its more experimental roots. Now, Maida feels free to lead the band wherever it pleases, and his excitement is palpable. “Our journey might have had some bumps in the road and some detours,” he says. “But the curves of this band are much wider now in terms of what we can do. We’re our own masters now.”
Our Lady Peace plays the Commodore Ballroom tonight (April 19).