Backstage with OUR LADY PEACE and the PACK AD

“Never thought I’d see you here,” my friend Steven said, as I signed in to get my passes for Our Lady Peace and The Pack AD at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on April 19.

“Aren’t Our Lady Peace a bit, uh, MAINSTREAM for you?

“Oh yeah! Totally!” I proclaim gleefully. See, OLP is listed in the great Canon of 90s Radio-Friendly Canadiana, a territory I shouldn’t have, but actually traversed, on occasion, growing up in Toronto.

And me and OLP go way back. Why? Because they were always really good rock band. And how far back? WAY BACK. To ‘92, when they formed. When Mike Turner, their first guitarist, used to drive me to the Much Music Video Awards aftershow parties. When first bassist Chris Eacrett stood on stage,  sullenly. When singer Raine Maida wore baseball caps. When drummer Jeremy Taggart looked like DJ Teen Daze instead of  a member of Black Wizard. When I was in the crowd for the filming of their ‘94 video “Naveed” (you can’t see me, but Raine did call out my name from the stage back then. #son’yeah)

“…Plus,” I continued, “I go where my girls in the Pack AD go.” And that, that part is substantially true. My mates have been on tour for yonks and it’s time for a catchup.  A double bill of Canadian rock old and new? I shall take it!  Then I skipped inside.

Action shot of Maya Miller and Becky Black hammering out the dirty rock that they’re so ruddy good at. OLP fans young and old look slightly confused by the  grit of the duo’s music, but nod along appreciatively.  Hey, mainstream radio, this is a band you SHOULD be playing alla time. Need I remind you that newish album Unpersons is available for your playlists? Cancon and on!

“Well, I drank two bottles of wine. And then I threw up. And felt just fine. I was only thinking of you. And then I thought of you. And then I forgot again,” Becky belts during “Rid of Me” and I swoon. They’re so fucking rock. “BC is on Fire” is weighted by Maya’s thundering drums, “Haunt You” sounds aces, and “Deer” elicits sighs of headbanging.

YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH BECKY! RAWK! *throws the horns*

Soon it’s time for OLP. Squeals abound in the sold-out Commodore Ballroom. There’s a new album out, Curve, and the first two tracks tonight are the first two from here. “Innocent” and “Fire in the Henhouse” flood over the crowd. There’s love in the room, even as Raine keeps his typical straightface.

Steve Mazur belts out over the “Monkey Brains” and OLP classic “Superman”. Not pictured: Mazur’s insanely awesome pedal/effects rig.

Gregg Allman. Sorry, drummer Jeremy Taggart.

Michael Raine Maida, former criminology student.

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I sneak upstairs/backstage to take in the show from above. There’s some loops in the curtains and a few of us peer through. OLP really are sounding that good…I’d kinda forgotten that fact.

I tap on the Pack AD’s green room door to find Becky and Maya filling goody bags. It’s the second-last show of the tour with OLP, and rather than schlep stuff over the border, they’re putting together fun gifts for the band. Included: glow sticks, candy-filled golf clubs (most of the band love to putt), giant sunglasses. “We kinda do this for all the bands we tour with,” says Maya. AWWWWWW.

During “Thief”, the band (Jeremy, keyboardist Robin and Duncan, above) leave Raine & Steve on stage to play alone, and nip backstage for a breather. They walk past me as I’m peering over the curtains. Duncan’s all smiles upstairs. After the show, he insists we’ve met before. We have, butabout 15 years ago.  ”I was in the ‘Naveed’ video,” I say. “No shit!” he grins. “And I pretty much remember the day you joined the band.” He beams. Duncan’s good people. And he heads back down and on stage. “Starseed” and “Clumsy” begin…

…while we three sneak the gift bags into OLP’s dressing room. SHHH surprise! “We’re such dorks,” says Becky, “Nah, yer adorkable,” I say, and we line up the fun. “Can I steal another beer?” I ask Becky as I finish up a piece of their pizza as well. “Sure, go on, you aren’t called the Backstage Rider for nothing…”

Meanwhile, during the encore – “Fast as You Can”, “Anybody Home”, and “Permanent” (a track Madia wrote with American Idol David Cook) – we’re in total singalong territory. They wrap with “4am” and leave the stage, and head back to find presents…

…here Jeremy, Becky and Robin ham around in slightly oversized glasses. Someone’s got a glow stick. “I feel like I’m drunk” Robin exclaims as she wears the shades around. Everyone’s in really good spirits. How can you not be with a candy-filled golf club?

Then it’s time to drink up, wipe the pizza sauce off my gob and find the lads. Jeremy and I chat briefly, and I see Raine by the door of the meet-and-greet room.  He’s ensconced in a group, chatting and being serious. I pat him on the arm as I head out. “I interviewed you last time you were out here, solo,” I say. “We have history. I’m Mikala.”  And Raine Maida smiles a great big smile. “OH YEAH!” he says, breaking the serious. “It’s good to see you again!”

And the feeling’s mutual. It’s been a while. I forgot that I like Our Lady Peace.\m/

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