Our Lady Peace: back from the brink

Toronto band brings new creative inspiration, hot live show to Whistler Medals Plaza

Ask the guys in Our Lady Peace about the politics of the music business and you're bound to get quite an earful. But more than likely, they'd rather you spent that time taking in the sounds of their latest album instead.

If you've been following the Toronto super-group since its 1994 smash debut Naveed, you'll know that it's been tough in recent years for the band to recapture its early success. But with the catchy sounds on July 2009's Burn Burn and a live show that's in tip-top shape, Our Lady Peace is busy spreading its rebirth to the masses.

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Crowds in Whistler have the chance to hear the re-energized band on Wednesday (Feb. 17) when it takes to the Whistler Medals Plaza stage as part of the evening's Olympic Victory Ceremony.

Guitarist Steve Mazur said the band members feel "very honoured" that they were asked to perform at the Games -and in such a "cool way," after the dedicated athletes who've trained their whole lives are awarded medals for their achievements.

"It's cool to be part of that," he said.

People in the crowd will hear all the Our Lady Peace hits from over the years, a few songs from past albums that weren't singles, and a few songs from Burn Burn, Mazur said. The band is at a high point in its live performance history, he said, feeling more confident and having more fun than ever before.

"We're really cooking right now on stage," Mazur said.

The good vibes are carrying over to fans as well, with an "incredible" response from fans at recent concerts, he added.

Our Lady Peace is in a great place creatively and personally, Mazur said. It's quite a different scenario than after the release of 2005's Healthy in Paranoid Times.

"Turmoil" during the making of the album led the band to take some time off, he said. It was the first time the band's U.S. record company got really involved in the making of an Our Lady Peace album and it "messed us up a bit," Mazur said.

"We had to get away from it for a while," he said.

In the meantime, lead singer Raine Maida released a solo album and each of the four members worked on other projects. Eventually Mazur, bassist Duncan Coutts and drummer Jeremy Taggart decided to get together to do some playing.

"It was very 'no pressure,'" Mazur said.

Starting slowly and testing out how things felt, the full band started getting together at Maida's home studio in L.A. to flesh out a few songs. Mazur said a new U.S. label and the decision to self-produce the album helped the band feel inspired and creatively free.

Because it was just the four musicians and Maida's studio is a converted garage, there were even moments when Mazur said he felt like he was 15 again and playing with his friends.

"It felt very organic again," he said. "It was really great."

Because the band took regular breaks between writing and recording sessions to allow for distance and perspective on the songs, it took about two years to make Burn Burn -resulting in the band's longest stretch between albums. Though the Our Lady Peace crew was a bit worried that people would forget about them, many fans have been loyal, Mazur said.

Witness the revival of Our Lady Peace on Wednesday (Feb. 17) at Whistler Medals Plaza. The show gets underway at about 7:30 p.m. after the medals presentation.

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