Sometimes you just can't stop the Rock.
Bob Rock, that is.
Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace learned that lesson this winter when they
flew to the famed producer's studio in Maui, Hawaii, to record two new
tracks for a live album and returned home with their entire fifth album,
Gravity, due Tuesday.
"We recorded a song with Bob, and it was amazing," Our Lady Peace singer
Raine Maida explained. "The vibe was so intense. By the time we were ready
to leave, he said, 'Look guys, if you think you have the material, I say we
make a record, 'cause there's something special going on.' It's kinda heavy
when a producer is asking you. The passion he was showing was like, 'F---
yeah. We gotta do this.' And it was done in like 10 weeks, which is so short
Gravity takes its name from the line "You're falling out of reach/
Defying gravity/ I know you're out there/ Somewhere out there" in the
album's first single, "Somewhere Out There," currently #8 on the
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Maida said the album, too, defies
gravity, in that it takes the band in the opposite direction it was heading
on 2001's Spiritual Machines.
"It really is the antithesis of what Spiritual Machines was. It was a
very information-heavy, very futuristic record concept-wise and lyrically.
This record has felt so grounded. It's very real. A song like 'Bring Back
the Sun,' we only recorded it four or five times and just took one take. No
overdubs. There's a lot of that kind of vibe. It's very grounded, and [the
title] Gravity suits."
The album's straightforwardness can be credited to Rock, who's known for
capturing a band's live energy in the studio. It helped that Our Lady Peace,
who recorded their previous albums in Toronto with producer and friend
Arnold Lanni, were eager to work with Rock.
"We had a talk with him before [and said], 'We don't need to make one that
sounds like our last four,' " Maida said. "We love [Metallica's] Black
Album, the simplicity of it. Rock licks and rock songs. It wasn't like we
were fighting against someone changing our sound. We were open to it."
Maida was also open to Rock's ideas about his lyrical approach, which were
in line with the simplified beats and guitar hooks. It was the first time he
had a producer influence his writing.
"He told me some great James Hetfield stories about pushing him to simplify
sh--, not be so big with words," Maida said. "I tend to be more ethereal. My
whole fear is once you start talking about yourself it comes off as really
pretentious. He understands that but knew there's a way to do it. You need
people to connect with what you talk about on a very visceral level, and he
said to do that you almost have to feel like you're giving too much up and
have that nervous energy when you're singing."
As a result, Gravity sounds like a diary (most of the tracks are
about relationships) with a rock and roll soundtrack. "Sorry," in
particular, seems soaked in honesty, with lyrics like, "I'm sorry I can't
lie/ I wasted too much time/ Drowning, I've been blind."
The album also possesses a sort of evolutionary spirit, in part because the
longtime guitarist Mike Turner quit midway through recording and was
replaced by Detroit native Steve Mazur.
"We were limited by our guitar player," Maida said. "We always wanted to be
a rock band, and all the songs I write are rock songs, but he was much more
of an atmosphere guy. We never had a guitar player that could step out there
and be at one with his instrument. Like a Jimmy Page, someone who has a
voice. Now we have that."
Maida said Mazur's presence is especially obvious in Our Lady Peace's live
show. So far the group has played only a few dates, but it has a month of
shows lined up beginning next week. Although Gravity has been
circulating on the Internet for only a few weeks, the band's loyal fanbase
already seems to have fallen for the record.
"We just did our first three club shows, and these kids are singing all the
new songs," Maida said. "They're calling out songs. It's amazing. I don't
even know some of the lyrics yet. All of a sudden these kids are singing all
the lyrics and I'm f---ing them up. It's what any band wants. You don't want
kids singing just the single. You make records 'cause you want them to dig
the whole record."