In 1991, U of T criminology student Michael Maida, now known as Raine, put out an ad to find musicians for his band. Now, 27 years later, that band, Our Lady Peace, is still touring Canada and releasing new music.
On February 23, Our Lady Peace released its ninth studio album, Somethingness, before heading on a cross Canada tour. Their newest band member, drummer Jason Pierce, spoke with The Varsity about joining the band, his personal career, and what to expect at the band’s two Toronto shows.
The Varsity: How is this album different than others that Our Lady Peace has released in the past?
Jason Pierce: Well, this will be the first record that I have any involvement in playing on and writing, the first record that has been released since I joined the band.
TV: You’ve been on tour with the band and you’ve played songs off of previous albums. Are there any differences between this record and those before?
JP: I feel like there’s a more edgy element on the new record, specifically on tracks like “Head Down” and “Drop Me In The Water.” There is a more edgy, dirty guitar-driven sound on a few tracks, compared to the last few records.
TV: Our Lady Peace is one of the most successful Canadian bands, with their records going 12 times platinum and one-time diamond in Canada while releasing nine albums in over a quarter of a century. What do you think makes this band so successful?
JP: I feel like it has a lot to do with being honest and being true. None of the songs on any of the records, from what I’ve seen, are contrived. Everything is very much there for a reason and there because everybody wanted it to be there. It’s not there just to put a song on a record. What also makes the band, from my perspective, is the fans. The way they appreciate the band… they are the reason that we still get to do this.
TV: You’re working with Raine, and he is technically the only original member left. He went to the University of Toronto. What’s it like working with him?
JP: Incredible, just incredible. He’s got this built-in dynamic. Something incredible to see. I’ve got to learn a lot from watching him.
TV: How does the band carry themselves when writing new music, specifically now that it’s been 24 years since their first released album?
JP: Actually, I believe this record is done a little bit differently. Duncan [Coutts, the band’s bassist] and I get together a few times a week and we write together. So, we’ve been presenting songs for the new record to the rest of the guys. So, it is a pretty equal share of songs that Duncan and I have started and songs that the other guys have started. It’s really a collective on this record.
TV: You technically joined the band in 2014 on tour, and then officially in 2016. Before that, you toured with acts such as Paramore, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Justin Bieber. I was wondering what tour is most memorable to you, outside of Our Lady Peace.
JP: Outside of Our Lady Peace, it would probably be my first tour with Paramore. Just because it was the first time I got to play with a band of that scale and shows of that scale. We were over in Europe doing arenas and stadiums. It was incredible. It really opened my eyes to the fact that that level of touring still exists, especially in this day and age.
TV: You’ve played stadiums, arenas, and now you’re going to be playing in smaller venues. What do you prefer when you’re playing onstage? Is it looking out to see thousands of people, or is it when you have a smaller audience and feel more connected?
JP: It’s kind of a double-edged sword, because [at] the bigger venues, there’s this energy you just cannot get from a smaller venue. But like you said, it’s so much less connected once you get used to that. When you do start going back to the smaller venues again, it’s eye-opening how terrifying it is when you can actually see past the people in the first 10 rows. So, I don’t know which one I actually prefer. It’s a completely different skill set. As a musician, you play to the room, and playing to a smaller room is different than playing to a football stadium.
TV: Other than Raine, Our Lady Peace is a band that has seen their members change over time. Is it hard to join a band that’s already solidified their name, or is it easier knowing that the support is already there?
JP: Yeah, it’s great that the support is already there. I think one of the hardest things to do is to almost live up to people’s expectations of you, just because you’re filling the shoes of people who are already great. It’s just trying to do your own thing and still trying to stay at that level.
TV: You’re going to be playing two shows in Toronto. What’s it like knowing many, if not most, of your fans that are going to be out at the shows on this tour are not old enough to know the first records that were released by Our Lady Peace?
JP: I have never thought about that before. It’s kind of scary.
TV: I’m speaking from experience; I wasn’t born when the first two Our Lady Peace albums were released.
JP: That’s incredible that the band has been around for this long. I love that. And it’s going to be cool because then you get to actually play that old material and it’s new to them. That’s totally a plus.
TV: These fans both new and old, those who have been with the band since 1991 and those who are just picking it up from Somethingness — what can these fans expect on this tour?
JP: Expect a good amount of new material but also paying respect to the catalogue. We’re still playing the hits, but we’re incorporating different new material every night. We have songs that we pop in place of other songs. We’re playing a larger, more diverse collection of songs.
TV: Would you say that going to both shows in Toronto, you would experience two different shows?
JP: 100 per cent, there is no way we’ll play the same set.
TV: Does that exemplify how the band is staying true to itself? It’s not out there to play to the majority, it’s out there doing its own thing.
JP: Totally, totally man. You have to do that stuff that turns yourself on before you can try to present that to the masses.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Our Lady Peace will perform at Massey Hall on March 15 and at Rebel on March 16.