Toronto’s alternative-rock group Our Lady Peace will headline this year’s final installment of the Edgefest Summer Concert Series this Saturday the 16th. Before hitting the stage, we had the opportunity of giving the legendary band’s Duncan Coutts a call to discuss connecting with fellow music lovers, a new collection of songs, touring fun, and how there’s no “Get Famous Quick” button — enjoy!
AMBY: Hey Duncan, welcome to A Music Blog, Yea? and thanks for having a chat.
Our Lady Peace: No problem at all.
AMBY: You have a very exciting festival season this year, and you’ll soon be playing Edgefest in Toronto. What do you look forward to most regarding your upcoming shows?
Our Lady Peace: I think it’s the same thing as always; it’s an opportunity to connect with fellow music lovers. I feel like once you write songs, and if you’re lucky enough to have people truly connect with them, then the live experience becomes less about a band playing music to their fans and more about a group of people sharing music together. We just happen to be the conduit for the music to flow through. If people really connect with your music, you sort of lose ownership over the song and it becomes a song that’s owned by everybody and shared by everybody. We’re just the four or five people on stage who are lucky enough to play it.
AMBY: When it comes to playing live, do you like revisiting the older Our Lady Peace songs because of the relationships they have with the crowds or do you enjoying playing the newer material?
Our Lady Peace: I think they’re not exclusive. I think there are certain songs that we gravitate to but we always play music from a selection from all of our records. I think it’s very rare when we’ll do a show and not play at least one song from every single record. I do think certain songs don’t connect with us at this point compared to when we first recorded them, but I can’t say that I don’t enjoy playing old songs. I think some songs just stand the test of time. If you can get back to that emotion from when you first recorded it then I think it’s a great song to continue to play.
AMBY: As of right now, which songs are your favourite to play live?
Our Lady Peace: Ah I don’t know [laughs]. There are way too many to choose from! I’m lucky that I still connect emotionally with a lot of our songs. I am excited about playing the new song, which is pretty cool.
AMBY: Won’t Turn Back.
Our Lady Peace: Yes, there’s always an adrenaline rush with playing the brand new songs.
AMBY: You revealed that track back in July on the 10th. This is the first glimpse at some new music since Curve was released in 2012. I feel the question all fans want to know is: is there a new album in the works?
Our Lady Peace: What’s an album today?
AMBY: That’s so true.
AMBY and Our Lady Peace: [laughs]
Our Lady Peace: Really, what is it? It’s a collection of songs that people will end up streaming online. By that I don’t mean to sound dismissive… We have a collection of songs that are in different stages of being ready to go; one has been recorded properly and I feel there are some songs that have yet to be written. So, I would say yes – look for a new collection of songs to be released. I’m not sure what the form is going to look like, I’m not sure how many songs there are going to be, but there will be new material coming.
AMBY: Got it, I look forward to hearing this “collection of songs”. On your Instagram, there’s a photo of the band eating at Five Guys Burgers and Fries while on tour. Aside from finding some good eats, what other things you like to do while on the road?
Our Lady Peace: Aside from good eats?
Our Lady Peace: Huh. It depends on city to city and what they have to offer. Sometimes it’s going for a run in a new city which is kind of fun. We used to play golf but we don’t seem to do that very much anymore. If we’re lucky to have a night off in a city that has another great live show going on, we’ll go check that out or go see a movie. There are all kinds of different things. I try to find different things in different cities or whatever is local, I don’t like searching for the same thing.
AMBY: Have there been any surprises you’ve come across in a city, or any hidden gems?
Our Lady Peace: A lot of that revolves around food or great organic coffee [laughs].
AMBY: Many of our readers are in smaller indie bands and are just starting their careers in the industry. Is there any advice you could give them as far as learning the ropes?
Our Lady Peace: It’s not easy. If you think there’s a “Get Famous Quick” button –
AMBY: – good luck finding it.
Our Lady Peace: Yes [laughs]. If you’re lucky enough to play music for a living and not have another job, there are a number of things involved in that. I’m talking from the experience of having that happen to us when CDs were actually purchased. Now music is a different thing, as we talked about, it’s streaming. You need to have a hit song, first and foremost, whether you’re an indie band or a big pop band, you need to have a hit song and you need to put in tons of work. By tons of work I mean that you have to try and continually get better at writing, get on the road and slog it out by being in dirty bars and horrible accommodations, and you have to have a passion for it. This industry will do everything in its power to stamp that out, so if you don’t have that passion and fire shut off, you might have a chance.
AMBY: That’s great advice, I feel that applies to all passions and dream jobs.
Our Lady Peace: Right? There are so many obstacles. This is going to sound like an idiotic thing coming from a band who sold a lot of records, but it’s a hard industry to make money in these days.
AMBY: Speaking of that success, as a band you’ve won four Juno Awards and won ten MuchMusic Video Awards — which is the most MMVAs ever awarded to any artist or group. Is there anything else Our Lady Peace would like to do that you haven’t yet in your career?
Our Lady Peace: I think it’s a journey for us. I think we feel like we haven’t reached what we can. By that, I don’t mean the accolades or the awards, I mean getting better as musicians, as writers, getting smarter, and writing more memorable stuff. In this day and age, it’s tempting to try and write a hit that ends up becoming fluff, and that’s not what we try and do. We try to write something that comes from within. If you continue to grow and self-analyze, I think you have a chance to write something that might be a hit, or it might not be, but it’s something you can be passionate about for a long period of time.
Thank you Our Lady Peace, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout