OLP break the peace at the Factory

The day is Dec. 12, 2000; the day of the concept album. Or at least the day of a concept album. Spiritual Machines will fly off the shelves into the hands of every Our Lady Peace fan yearning for more since last year’s Happiness… Is Not A Fish That you Can Catch. The new record is inspired by a Ray Kurzweil book.

After reading Spiritual Machines–When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, guitarist Mike Turner passed it on to vocalist Raine Maida, and from there, the rest of the band quickly became immersed in Spiritual Machines’ madness. The entire band has since become well-versed in the book’s contents, which explains OLP’s current outlook and style.

"It’s very clinical, and obviously the soul and spirituality are something that is not," explains Maida.

The band went as far as to include excerpts from the book, read by it’s author in a strange, sci-fi-type manner on the album.

"The book kinda overwhelmed the record in a sense, but it was only because Ray made himself available," states Maida.

Roughly five songs out of the 10 were written after the band made contact with Kurzweil.

"I think that was why we were able to make it a concept record and feel pretentious, because it was actually him (Kurzweil)," adds Maida.

The book discusses the rather eerie concept of machines and humans co-existing as equals, to the point where there is no longer a distinction. Maida defines it as "a struggle between the two, spirituality against Ray’s vision and the machine, and human beings becoming machines."

At the Factory, amidst baseball-capped heads, Our Lady Peace introduced their new record to a small cluster of roughly 500 excited fans, taking them into the new and unfamiliar territory of Spitirual Machines.With the help of the interplaying voice of Kurzweil, the audience could grasp the album’s underlying theme. Songs like "Life" and "Right Behind You" manage to retain the trademark catchiness evident to those familiar with the band’s past music while keeping faithful to their new conceptual tangent. It wasn’t long before the crowd realized the new concept equaled same-old-band-with-a-slightly-darker-approach-to-the-future. Of course, nothing got them screaming like good old "Naveed" and especially "4 a.m." where Maida played the guitar while the audience sang the entire song.

It is obvious that to Our Lady Peace, fans are still number one. Maida even shared the touching story of the visit they paid to a boy in a coma whose mother sought them out in a small club in Vernon. When asked why they chose to play for such a small number of people the band explained that they wanted to "do something that we don’t really get as much of an opportunity to do when we go on a full scale-tour. We sort of view [the fans] as our close friends."

Those who chose not to wait outside in the cold for hours to get tickets for the Factory show can anticipate their presence in Calgary when they hit the road again in the summer, with their newly acquired sci-fi approach to music.

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