Raine Maida is one of the most influential Canadians out there. He is a talented musician, a passionate activist and a very proud Torontonian. Upon the release of his latest solo album, We All Get Lighter he came to Toronto to promote it and also to take part in CMW. Even though he’s a busy man he took the time to talk to me about his career, his views on the industry and what he misses most about Toronto.
We All Get Lighter comes out this week, at this point in your career, do you ever still get nervous upon an album release?
Not really. Well, for this album in particular it’s been streaming online all week, so I’ve been getting feedback from fans all week which seems pretty positive. So it’s taken away any stress about waiting for the first day that it’s officially out there. I think it’s something to be said about making it available early; let’s people who are looking for it get to hear it first.
Do you still read reviews at a time like this?
I don’t. I try to avoid them. Sometimes I’ll come across an odd one, if a fan sends it to me or something. But my whole career, I’ve just been – not really protecting myself – but, I didn’t want to buy in either way. You know? Whether they thought it was brilliant or not. You have to be careful of that stuff, it’s not why I ever got into music, so I’d hate for it to be the reason why I kept going, or chose not to be a musician. I’ve seen reviews control peoples careers in a way.
I read that when you’re working on writing new music, you refrain from listening to music to help you focus. Is that something you’ve always done?
It’s something I do more for my solo work because it’s all on me. It more has to do with time – it’s not like when everything is done separately for an OLP album; where the drummer is off doing a track and sends it to me or something. I’m present the whole time when writing for my own stuff. So if I’m going to leave the studio, I just need to be a away from music.
Is there anything you do differently from when you’re writing your own stuff from when you’re writing for Our Lady Peace?
I think the way I approach it is completely different; when it’s for me, it’s just words and a programmed beat. I find that if I record an acoustic riff and put it to a beat and I just start singing to it or if I’m doing more spoken word stuff, I just feel like those three elements to me are what make it so different from when I’m doing Our Lady Peace stuff. I’d hate to have a song on a solo record that I would feel could be an Our Lady Peace song. I think I separate that as a way to be respectful in a way.
Other than poetry and your reading, is there anything else you feel heavily influences your music?
It’s definitely a lot more than just poetry. I think my writing is primarily based on life experience. I have three young boys. I think having a family and having that kind of responsibility has put a different weight on me in terms of what I write about. I always make sure it’s as authentic as possible. At the end of the day I’d like to believe that one day down the road, one of my kids will throw on a set of headphones or something and listen to some of music and probably get to know me better throw that than anything.
Do your kids play any instruments?
Yeah, they do, they all do.
You have an extensive catalogue of songs. Is there any one song in particular that you enjoy playing live?
Yeah. There’s a song on my first record called, ‘Careful What You Wish For’. I love the song. I’ve always loved the song. But the way we played it a couple weeks ago at the Victoria Chapel at U of T; it has a drum part on it, but we added another kit, it just made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s kind of amazing when your own stuff can still do that. I felt like I was a fan. It was really cool.
Have you experienced that with your own music? After having some time pass you start to feel differently about a song as you’re performing it?
You try to find those moments. Sometimes during these little promo things I have this altered version of an Our Lady Peace song called ‘Innocent’ that I do. I played it at The Edge a couple nights ago with a friend of mine on violin. I put it in a different key and it was all more in falsetto, and my friend was singing along. Fuck, that’s just why I love music you know? A painting; you can’t really do much else to it, it is what it is. But a song is just such an organic creature. I’ve been able to just respect that element of it so much more.
Your home and your studio are in L.A. is that correct?
Yes, I have a bigger studio in L.A. but I have a place here in Toronto that I can record at too.
How do you manage your time; traveling back and forth, seeing your family?
It’s crazy. I leave town and Chantal will come in and I’ll literally just pass her in the airport. It’s a crazy life, but it’s a job. So if there’s times that I have to be away for a couple of weeks, I know that when I get home I’ll have a couple weeks non-stop to make up for it. It’s the life I chose, and sometimes it’s not ideal, but it is what it is.
Is there anything in particular about Toronto that you miss when you’re away?
Everything. I grew up here, so all my restaurants my family. Friends. Having traveled the world for the last twenty years it really makes me feel like this is the best city in the world. It’s just incredible. It honestly feels like it’s getting better. Even though the traffic is getting worse, the city itself keeps getting better.
Do you have a favourite Toronto venue?
It changes a lot. Massey Hall is an incredible place for anyone to play. So whenever I get to play there I’m kind of thrilled. I was at The Hard Luck the other night, a band I just signed was playing there. I like walking into a place like that. Definitely not a place you want to be playing at 20 years into your career, but for them it was amazing, loud, it was just rock and roll. I love that there are so many different venues here.
Which band is that that you just signed?
A band called The Beaches.
You’ve done it both ways; independently, and under the watchful eye of a label; do you feel like one could not have happened without the other? Or is there anything you would have done differently?
I have no regrets. I’m at that point in my life where you’ve realized that everything good or bad has lead you to something. Yeah, there’s a couple things that I wish I had paid more attention to, or thought maybe if I did this instead it’d be different, but at the end of the day, if you’re comfortable with where you are and who you are, that’s all that matters.
Can you offer any advice to any musician or artist who is out there trying to battle it out in the sea of other musicians and artists?
I think the most important thing is that you have to do it for the love of the music. It’s hard. The business is different, there really is no rapport on either the indie level or the major level you’re just fighting for space even. There’s so much more than when I started out. But even though I see that, I feel like it’s still an honorable profession. If you chose to make it your career, you just have to love what you’re doing. And I think that’s what makes it fulfilling. If you’re doing it for other reasons; if you’re doing it to be famous or doing to to play the ACC or to be a star, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. I’ve seen that happen and it’s unfortunate.
I asked my twitter followers of there was anything they would want me to ask you, and someone asked if you and the guys from Our Lady Peace ever thought about hosting another Somersault Festival?
You know what, we just talked about that a couple weeks ago, and we kind of missed out this summer. We’ve definitely been talking about it being more of something just outside of Toronto. It’s on our radar, and I’d love to, but it’s just a matter of finding the time to make it work.
Awesome. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to do this interview!
It was my pleasure.
The fan in me is loosing her shit, but I tried to be professional.
(laughs) you were very professional.
Thank you for saying so! Take care!
Have a great CMW.