Growing up in Canada, there are fundamental things you know. You aren’t sure how you know but somehow it’s engrained in your frontal lobe preventing you from learning algebra you’ll never use anyway. We know with certainty our top exports are: hockey players, comedians, and musicians. The Canadian music scene has always fascinated me. I can’t put my finger on the unmatched abstract quality Canadian bands strike. Lead singer of Our Lady Peace, Raine Maida, has successfully crafted that quality in one of the most prolific alternative rock bands for over a decade. In 2007, he released a solo album called “Hunter’s Lullaby” that once again found a unique niche and created a dialogue by renewing Beat Poetry. With the release of his second solo album, “We All Get Lighter,” Raine’s musical chops shine.
OCR: The title of your second solo release is “We All Get Lighter” inspired by an encounter with the Beat Poet John Giorno. How have these sentiments inspired you personally and creatively?
RM: He’s a man with infinite wisdom. Standing watching him perform felt like a live eulogy. It really made me focus in on regrets and trying to limit them. That became the focus of my writing.
OCR: Your solo projects are influenced by spoken word poetry and the Beat Generation. What draws you to these forms of lyrical expression? What is one of you’re your favourite Beat publications?
RM: They were very raw for the times. Spoken word artists these days have taken it to a new level but if you read Ginsberg’s “The Fall of America” it’s spooky how relatable to present times it is.
OCR: What are some challenges when working within the spoken word medium?
RM: I would never define myself as a spoken word artist. I’m an admirer and the influence exists in my music but to stand up and spit words to a crowd of people in the likes of an Anis Mojgani or a Saul Williams…no thank you. Those guys are brilliant wordsmiths. For me the cadence is very interesting and I appreciate how the structure doesn’t limit you to what typical songwriting does.
OCR: Personally, I hear a very distinct sound in both of your solo albums. Hunter’ Lullaby really encompasses the spirit of Beat and Slam Poetry. A majority of the songs are fast-paced and have open commentary on political topics. “We All Get Lighter” seems like a more meditative record with personal introspection. How would you describe the progression from “Hunters Lullaby” to “We All Get Lighter?”
RM: It was a natural evolution. I tried to keep the focus of the lyric paramount so that dictated more of what songs made the final album. I have a bunch more songs in the vein of “rising tide” that might have seemed more connected to Hunters Lullaby but lyrically they weren’t as focused on the “no regrets” tip I was on.
OCR: Our Lady Peace is a hugely popular band with a signature sound. How do you find your voice as a solo artist?
RM: My solo work is so easy. It starts with some words, a programmed beat and a little acoustic guitar line. OLP is such a bigger animal. There’s so much to navigate in a band setting. Not to say I don’t appreciate that because I love the collaboration but I can finish a solo song in a couple of hours. That doesn’t happen with OLP. I feel more like a painter when doing my solo work.
OCR: During solo tours, you play more intimate venues. Do you prefer the intimacy of a small crowd or the energy of a stadium show?
RM: I love being able to connect on that more intimate level. My solo work is more about the words, so being able to hear them and express my thoughts on that level is very important to me.
OCR: As a leader within the music industry, do you feel pressure to create socially conscious music especially when a majority of the chart toppers are heavily manufactured pop songs?
RM: I’ve never felt pressure. It’s simply something that has evolved. It can’t be forced and We All get Lighter is far from political. Time and place I guess.
OCR: “Rising Tide” surrounds children centered within war and violence. The opening lines are effective from a child’s perspective wanting to escape into a fairy tale world outside of reality. With your work with War Child, do you feel music is the best way to spread social awareness and consciousness about the atrocities around the globe?
RM: I think the good people at WarChild and charities like theirs are the best at spreading the message. Music is a great tool at helping motivate people to take a look at some of their work. It can absolutely be a catalyst for engagement and for that I am grateful.
OCR: What’s your favourite South Park episode? What do you find attractive about their critical and satirical views on pop culture?
RM: I don’t watch it often enough but the “trapped in the closet” Scientology Tom Cruise episode is pretty brilliant!
OCR: Your album art for Hunter’s Lullaby and We All Get Lighter are very simplistic and remind me of Leonard Cohen albums. Is there a conscious decision for this visual representation? Do you think that simplicity is something that is lost on a generation geared towards constant visual stimulation?
RM: You got me. In a day and age where it feels like clever and savvy are the norm, I love the simplicity of those 70″s record covers and especially Leonard’s.