Raine Maida owns – The Hunters Lullaby

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I thought Raine Maida’s career was moving in a new direction, something along the lines of Greig Nori (Treble Charger) maybe. Greig was the front man for Treble Charger, but as they died out he began working with SUM 41 as a manager and producer, and has since worked with other Canadian bands such as Hedley. He made the transition to more of a behind-the-scenes type role in the industry as his band went on an indefinite hiatus before fading away and eventually officially disbanding.

Since Mike Turner left Our Lady Peace (OLP) and the band started working with Bob Rock, their music – for the most part – has been terrible. Gravity was a hit/miss album with a few decent songs (ie. the singles), but it just didn’t stand on its own like fans had come to expect from OLP. Healthy in Paranoid Times was a failure all-round. Just look at the album sales trends under their discography. It’s been downhill, and although there is no difference between sales of Spiritual Machines and Gravity, I would argue that sales of Gravity were not types of sales a band wants. In other words, even if Spiritual Machines didn’t enjoy as much commercial success, committed fans were still happy; Gravity enjoyed more commercial success and radio play, but more sales would have gone to fickle Top 40 fans who were interested in the singles more than the artists behind them. The fact that they’d alienated most of their passionate fans shows with the dismal sales of Healthy in Paranoid Times.

But Raine Maida is far from done. I came across some video of him busking all over Toronto in October to raise money for War Child Canada (they raised $23,000 in a single day to build a school in the Congo!) and quickly realized he had some new material. Although the band is preparing for a new album release sometime in 2008, this was material from his recently released solo album – Hunters Lullaby.

Now, to be honest, my first reaction was “oh great…”. I thought that one of my (former?) musical heroes was going to further destroy my old impressions of him. I was half-expecting some sort of vain, major label attempt at further stardom. Boy, am I happy to say I was wrong!

You can listen to some of his new tracks on his MySpace or learn more about it on his website. I’m not quite sure what I think of it yet… I think I need to give it more time to be fair. Though, it’s already starting to grow on me, just from listening while writing this post. Raine has a new found fascination with spoken word slam style poetry that was a bit surprising at first, but I’m curious as to whether or not it’s the type of thing that I might develop an attachment to. Regardless of whether or not I come to be a fan, the first thing that I noticed was that it sounded authentic.

I went in search of more information and found this great interview from Stereo Subversion. Hunters Lullaby sounds authentic because it is authentic. Raine produced the entire thing in his home studio and its released through Nettwerk – a large, well-respected Vancouver-based Canadian label and music management firm. Contrary to representing the major-label ideology that seems to be largely responsible for the band’s recent failures, Maida is a member of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. He says it best in his own words:

[It was] just about making a record. I did it at home, I own it one hundred percent. It’s a really different place for an artist to be, especially after being on Columbia Records for ten years — it’s very clich√©, but it’s so liberating to be able to make music the way you want to, knowing that no one’s going to want to come back and go, “Maybe if you changed the lyrics on that chorus, we’d be able to get this on the radio if you cut out the negative”

Wow. I wasn’t expecting that from him. The creative differences between OLP and Mike Turner largely seemed to be about the music business and making compromises to sound more mainstream and achieve wider commercial success while forsake the band’s alternative roots. Raine was asked a few questions about the band in the interview as well.

[Hunters Lullaby] was the complete antithesis of what [OLP has] done on the last two records we made with Bob Rock in Maui, that just did not suit me at all [my emphasis]. So with OLP, with my solo record and the negotiations for that, we managed to own most of our next record, our seventh record, for Sony. So in that we’ve decided to just kind of record the same way I did my record.

What we lost sight of I think as a band is that, with the business of music, everything got more serious, with record sales declining. And a lot of bands will toe the line, a lot of bands on a major label… all of a sudden they’re coming to outside songwriters for the first single. I’m still an artist first, I’m not some hired gun bullshit songwriter. So what happens is, and we fell victim to that as well, we had to keep writing and writing and writing for the last record because Columbia was like “we really don’t hear a first single.”

And we kind of lost sight of the fact that it was never about that at first. That’s the damage that’s done to a band once they do have a big single or a couple hits… It’s just a tough place to be when you’re on a major label. I think ownership these days gives you a whole different perspective on your music. It feels like it’s bringing it back to being about art again.

The buskin fundraiser also doubled as a video shoot for Raine, as opposed to doing another “narcissistic look at me” rock video. I remember watching some “making of the video” type show on EdgeTV or Much Loud when the Innocent video was first released and he was swearing and complaining on camera that they were pouring as much money into that video as they’d spent on the entire album. Watch the video and look at his face during the chorus. That’s not an “I’m so cool” scowl, it’s an “I hate this” scowl.

For the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about new music from Raine Maida! Our Lady Peace was my first “favourite” band and I still love their old stuff. I’m thrilled to have some “real” new music coming from Maida again. Check it out!

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