Arriving in the midst of the post-grunge explosion of the mid-'90s, Our Lady Peace quickly emerged as one of Canada's most high-profile bands. Following over a decade of touring and the release of six full-length albums, the band has taken a well-deserved hiatus. Frontman Raine Maida has taken advantage of the break to work on a solo album, re-igniting his passion for music and the phenomenon of beat poetry.
"I always felt constricted as an artist in an industry where you're defined by a 10- or 12 track album released every two years," Maida says. "Making this album and putting together these songs has made me excited about music in a way I haven't been since high school."
Maida has already released a four track EP titled Love Hope Hero, available on iTunes. For Maida, it was paramount that he be given full independence to record and release his solo work. To that end, Kingnoise Records was born, and Maida took the reins.
"There's something so sexy about the freedom you have under your own label," says Maida. "You can decide when and what to record,
how to release it and where to put it up. If I chose to, I could just release four EPs or a full album. With Our Lady Peace I've never been able to turn a whole poem into a song. It always had to be broken up or arranged. Now that I have that ability, I can't tell you how wonderful it is."
While most would be content with achieving mass critical and popular acclaim, Maida is looking for more. He first became involved with the War Child charity organization in 2001 and has travelled to Iraq and Darfur, trying to spread good where he thought it was most needed.
"I'm really a cynic, and charities were always on my list," reflects Maida. "Bigger charities are really just corporations. You give them money and you don't know what they do or where it goes. But with War Child, I can put my ass on the line and say that they're the real thing, the money doesn't go to buying new jeeps or computers, it goes where it's needed and they are definitely making a difference."
The United Nations has declared Darfur one of the world's largest recent humanitarian crises, and unbelievably the issue is still in the shadows of popular media and culture. Upon returning from Darfur, Maida immediately found himself changed.
"As soon as I came back from Darfur I was fucking disgusted with everything," says Maida. "I mean the culture shock was really coming back here and dealing with all the mindless consumerism."
Maida increased his contributions to War Child by spearheading and producing the charity album Help! A Day In The Life. Along with Maida's efforts, the album has raised both money and awareness for the organization. Combining philanthropy with musical talent, Maida has left his fans eagerly anticipating his next move.
For more information on Darfur and to find out how you can make a difference, visit savedarfur.com or warchild.ca. Or, alternatively, check out Maida's show with wife Chantal Kreviazuk at the Jubilee Auditorium Wed., Feb. 14. Tickets are $35.50 to $45.50 at ticketmaster. Down with consumerism!