Our Lady Peace Pro/File: OLP Goes on Their Own


Our Lady Peace, from left: Duncan Coutts (bass), Jeremy Taggart (drums), Raine Maida (vocals) and Steve Mazur (guitar)

Photo: Dustin Rabin

Our Lady Peace's previous album took more than 1,000 days to record. For the band's frontman, Raine Maida, that was 1,000 days too many. Departing Columbia Records after seven studio releases and more than 5 million albums sold, the group decided to go it on their own, so Maida had a studio built in his house and turned it into the new band headquarters. The result:Burn Burn(Our Lady Peace, 2009), a self-produced set that many claim is the Canadian alt-rock band's most focused and complex to date.

Taking their usual brand of melodic power ballads and bombastic radio rock a step further with more personal lyrics and perceptive production, Maida calls the record “my single greatest success” as a member of Our Lady Peace. “As a creative unit, we needed to get back to trusting our instincts without outside interference,” he says. Maida's King Noise Recorder Studio in Los Angeles includes a control room, a lounge and a 30×40 professionally tuned live space that replicates an old ‘70s drum room. “It sounds amazing,” he enthuses. The studio is built around an old Neve 50 Series console and Pro Tools HD3. Depending on the project and budget, he also has the option to mix down to a Studer ¼-inch 2-track “for added warmth.”

Sessions for Burn Burn began by recording the bulk of each song live in the room. “We wanted to capture the energy of the instruments and mics bleeding into each other to avoid the record sounding too clean,” Maida says. About 90 percent of the guitar work was live, and most of Maida's vocals were recorded in the control room with a Shure SM7, “the only mic I could hold in my hand that wouldn't distort.”

Numeorus guitars were used on the project, with the electrics often going through Divided by 13 amps. Maida's acoustic of choice was his 1928 Martin, but he also used a Gibson 185; he found the clarity of the maple helped it sit well in the mix. Nord and Moog Voyager keyboards supplied many of the synth sounds — Maida says he still likes real keyboards as opposed to soft synths — while the live-room piano, a Yamaha C7, was miked with a stereo set of DPAs (“the truest, cleanest mics I've ever heard”) and a Neumann U87 as a mono room mic compressed at an 8:1 ratio. Because most of the album was recorded live, only a few songs required extensive overdubbing. “Dreamland” was one of them (see Web Clip 1). “A big part of the verses in that song are hammered dulcimer,” Maida says. “I tried everything to mike it, but ultimately a beat-up U87 sounded best as the large diaphragm covered the broad spectrum of the dulcimer. We quickly learned that Steve [Mazur, guitar] needed to hammer the instrument very lightly — I didn't want to compress it too much, so he ultimately had to control the dynamics. ”The track “Refuge” was also handled a little differently. “The original arrangement was boring,” Maida says. “The song came to life when we reset the drum kit, adding a 14-inch tom left of the snare; this allowed Jeremy [Taggart] to play the rolling beat that drives the song (see Web Clip 2). I went with an [AKG] 451 for the extra tom, and also a mono Coles Ribbon mic, which gave the kit a very live, Keith Moon feel.”Maida says that while the band, which also includes bassist Duncan Coutts, has worked with “great producers and engineers” during their career, being able to do this album on their own gave the band a new life. “It re-attached us to our musical instincts and empowered us for the future.”

Home base: Los Angeles

DAW of choice: Digidesign Pro Tools HD3

Go-to mic: Neumann U87