"I was done, done, done," Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida says of nearly quitting the rock band he's led for thirteen years during the making of its new album, Healthy in Paranoid Times, out today.
Working once again with Bob Rock (Metallica, Motley Crue), the Canadian band, which has sold more than five million albums worldwide, just kept second-guessing itself. From the first batch of songs to the last, Maida, bassist Duncan Coutts, drummer Jeremy Taggart and guitarist Steve Mazur were unhappy with everything they recorded.
"It just got really stressful," says Maida, his frustration apparent even now. "Every session was very different from the session before. The first thing we did was really exciting, but then we'd say, 'OK, at the end of the day this shit's not good enough. This isn't great.' There was a session we did in Malibu for a month and that was fucking brutal. We had basically broken up, fired Bobby, quit. Dark, very dark."
But they continued writing and recording, finally amassing forty-five songs from which to choose. The resulting Healthy sounds like a whole other band: Our Lady Peace had evolved in private, through albums' worth of material no one outside the group is likely ever to hear.
The lead track, "Angels Losing Sleep," exemplifies this: Maida's voice is smoother, less nasal, but still earnest; the music is less bombastic. Then there are the slow, atmospheric tracks "Picture" and "Apology," the effervescent bounce of "The World on a String" and the lilting "Don't Stop."
Maida has also grown bolder with his lyrics -- partly due to his recent humanitarian missions to Iraq and Darfur, through War Child Canada. Healthy features the single "Where Are You," an intense plea for world harmony, and "Wipe That Smile Off Your Face," a scathing anti-Bush track. "Lyrically, Our Lady Peace has often been a bit on the ambiguous side, kind of tried to keep things universal," says Maida. "As soon as I came back from Darfur, my whole thought process had changed. I wanted to say what I wanted to say, and if Clear Channel doesn't want to play a fucking song because it has lyrics about Bush, then too bad."
But what stopped Maida from quitting the band? "At no point did I really want to do that," he says, his voice softening. "It was more like you're fighting with your brother: You know you guys are going to get back together at a certain point. I think, as bad as it was, we all knew that in our hearts."