Relations across borders: Raine Maida examines the state of modern politics and war

Politics play an important role on Raine Maida's "The Hunter's Lullaby." The Our Lady Peace frontman discusses his world view and his politics. "It's maybe not as obvious in certain spots, but it's a very socially conscious, political record."

- Dara Hakimzadeh
Photo by Katie Hawkins

posted April 7, 2008

Relations across borders: Raine Maida examines the state of modern
politics and war

Following his sound check and hours before his sold-out show at the Capital Music Hall in Ottawa, Canadian singer-songwriter Raine Maida discussed his latest album The Hunter's Lullaby and how it relates to politics and ultimately his world view.

"It's maybe not as obvious in certain spots, but it's a very socially conscious, political record," said Maida. "(So much of) the song 'The Snake and the Crown' is about the way we watch celebrities. It's like the way we watch life in general."

The song is told from the perspective of a person watching a robbery inside a 7-11 convenience store.

"We're in a state of flux where keeping people's attention is the biggest challenge," he continued. "A lot of times it feels like we're just watching that robbery. You don't want to get involved, but it's amazing to just sit behind the potato chips and peek out and watch it go down."

He attributes his changes over the years as a person to his experiences outside of Canada doing charity work for War Child Canada, adding that they've allowed him to look beyond the news sound bites and see the reality of the world.

"Spending time in Iraq, Sudan or the Congo just gets in your pores and then you come back to North America, whether it's Los Angeles or Toronto for me they're both big cities, ambitious and rich cities people make five dollars a year in Darfur (Sudan) and I can spend five dollars on a coffee in eight seconds. It's tough and everything is relevant," said Maida. "My goal and my mission are to somehow make sure I don't lose sight of those experiences because they're so prolific. You just don't want to get caught up, back into your old vices."

Maida currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and fellow Canuck musician Chantal Kreviazuk and their two sons Rowan, 4, and Lucca, 2.

Although Maida identifies himself as a "Monday morning activist" who isn't spending all his time doing relief work, he said he's learned a lot from being around Jared Paul, an American social worker and spoken word artist from Providence, Rhode Island.

In fact, Maida felt so drawn to Paul's work that he had Paul appear on his album in the song "The Less I Know." In return, Maida said he has been able to absorb many of Paul's pearls of wisdom.

"If you are going to live and die by your convictions, then that's the way it is and you don't care about the other stuff and you set your expectations differently. It's a good lesson that I've learned from Jared because he's that type of artist," he said. "I'm sure if he were to dumb down his poems to be more general something the masses could digest he'd have bigger audiences, but that's not what he's about."

"Your convictions and your morals only mean something when you do something when it's not convenient and I think it's my way of life now," he continued. "Coming back to expectations, I've set different ones, because I refuse not to say things anymore."

His conviction not to remain silent was partly a product of creating this album for his sons.

"I ultimately think my kids will get to know me, their father, through my music and especially my solo records because they're more personal than they will if I could sit down and have an exchange or conversation," explained Maida. "I wouldn't put anything out on a record that is for shock value. It has got to be intrinsic and like the way I live my life and hopefully the way they'll live their lives."

While his website broadly defines the theme of The Hunter's Lullaby as "the quest to be a decent human being," Maida said this journey can happen on multiple levels from pulling away from organized religion to find yourself spiritually or examining where you stand politically and making sure your voice is heard.

"I think people are getting fed up with war and I think you're going to find a new generation of politicians that come from a different cloth who are smart and have the passion and foresight to see where this planet needs to end up," he said. One such politician, according to Maida, is Barack Obama, who he says has the passionate voice of a modern day Martin Luther King, Jr.

"He's from a mixed marriage, he's traveled, he's worldly and he has a sense of what the real problem is in his country. When you hear that 'race' speech, you really understand that that issue is underlying everything in America," said Maida referring to Obama's speech in Philadelphia in mid-March.

A major difference between America and Canada is the urgency for change, he said.

"Every town and every city has people that have been directly affected by [the war in Iraq] and I think that's where the apathy is getting cast away," said Maida, referring to American voters.

Since Canadian casualties in Afghanistan are not comparable to those facing American families, he thinks Canadian politics will change at a slower pace.

"Double the amount of people who voted in 2004 are voting in all these primaries," he said. "American kids, the new generation that's going to drive the country, are standing up for themselves and I really respect that and I'm really hoping something seeps into the water in Canada."