Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida talks guns, Woodstock ’99 and writing hits for superstars

The ‘Clumsy’ singer looks back on the ’90s before coming to Tampa with Bush and Live.
Published August 15

Our Lady Peace singer Raine Maida gets why people might not look back fondly on the radio rock of the late ’90s.

“We always felt like outliers,” the singer said by phone recently from California. “We’d be on festivals with the Limp Bizkits and Korns and be like, Why are we here? This is crazy. We’re not those bands.”

No, not exactly. Our Lady Peace were post-grunge stars in their native Canada, touring with the likes of Van Halen, Alanis Morissette and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. They had a more-than-modest breakthrough in the States with their alternative hits Superman’s Dead and Clumsy, from the 1997 album of the same name.

But if you haven’t thought about Our Lady Peace in a while, don’t sweat it. Maida has kept plenty busy, not only with the band, but as a songwriter and producer. He and his wife, fellow Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk, developed a nice side hustle writing for artists ranging from Pink and Carrie Underwood to Drake and Kendrick Lamar. (Maida’s credits include Kelly Clarkson’s Walk Away and half of Avril Lavigne’s album Under My Skin). They recently filmed an unflinching documentary about their marriage and collaborative process called I’m Going to Break Your Heart; it’s due for American release in December.

For now, Our Lady Peace is on tour with fellow ’90s-rock survivors Bush and Live; they’ll play Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday. When we reached Maida, he’d just spent a few days in the studio with Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), working on a new song called Stop Making Stupid People Famous. That seemed like a good place to start.

Was Stop Making Stupid People Famous inspired by a particular stupid person?

Nah, I think just the culture. We’ve hit that tipping point where that’s what’s driving culture. There’s just fame. We don’t have great minds at the top level anymore, on any front, whether it’s fashion, culture, politics, whatever. The people with the most followers win, and that’s pretty f---ed up.

As Canadian citizens, how invested do you get in American politics? This has been a pretty fierce week to be on either side.

Yeah. I’ve got three boys that go to school, and they do all the drills in case there’s a shooter. My 11-year-old ... a couple of years ago, there was a shooting in Santa Monica, and his school’s around there, and they got locked down. They were freaking out, because they only have a glass door, basically. But that’s going to ultimately change. I get that guns are a part of the culture, but for me, it’s pretty simple to separate guns that are made for war, and guns that are made to hunt.

Have you felt less safe onstage since Paris or Las Vegas?

Yeah. We played New Orleans five or six days ago, and it was this amazing venue right by the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, in the middle of the city. We’re surrounded by buildings with windows, and I even think one was a hotel that was looking down on the venue. A the time, it was incredible, such an amazing place to play. But looking back, man, the Las Vegas thing could’ve happened there as well. And that’s weird, right? Now I’m thinking about that on stage? That’s a total distraction.

You played Woodstock ’99. Was it as bad as the world remembers it?

Yeah, it was weird, right? Maybe that put a bit of a stain on that style of music. I don’t know if it was (Limp Bizkit singer Fred) Durst, or what happened. They were really kind of a f--k-you band. It wasn’t Durst’s fault, but they just would do that at shows. Just that environment — way-too-expensive water, not enough care for the concertgoers ... it was a mess.

What were you like as a person in 1999?

I was pretty introverted. I wish back then I would’ve had more foresight to just settle: Enjoy the show, enjoy the incredible moments that people give you while you’re on stage, enjoy the cities for what they are, just take it all in. But I was too focused on future thinking, like, What’s the next album going to sound like? What are the songs going to be? What are the lyrics? That stuff really overwhelmed me. Now, I’m definitely able to enjoy that stuff and be present for every show, every moment. Even just hanging with the band or with Chantal. That stuff is paramount to me now, to really live in those moments.

You and your wife have written for Pink, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. How do you approach writing with an established superstar?

I always tried to pull something out of them. We could write songs pretty easily (by ourselves), but working with an artist, you want to be able to have them imprinted on it. That was always my end goal, especially on the lyrical side. Even if you didn’t write any of your own songs on your last record, it’s like, “You’re a human being. What is on your mind? What is hiding underneath the first and second layer in your brain? Let’s talk about that. Let’s get that on paper.”

Contact Jay Cridlin at cridlin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

IF YOU GO

Bush, Live and Our Lady Peace

$25 and up. 7 p.m. Friday. MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.

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