Interview with Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart
by: Red Rocker
Interview date: 08/23/05
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Holed up in Hollywood for a few weeks, the
members of Our Lady Peace have just put the finishing touches on Healthy in
Paranoid Times, their sixth studio album. They’re currently camping out at the
infamous Viper Room in L.A. doing a series of shows in preparation for their
upcoming opening dates with the Rolling Stones, as well as their own headlining
tour of America. Drummer extraordinaire Jeremy Taggart was kind enough to take
an hour out of his busy afternoon to chat about the oft-grueling three years it
took to create the new record, OLP’s spot at Live 8 in Toronto (and meeting
Motley Crue), and his utter disdain for “Rock Star: INXS.”
Bullz-Eye: Looks like you guys have been making a second home at the
Viper Room lately?
Jeremy Taggart: Yeah, we’re just doing a bunch of small shows, kinda
helping to get the bugs out. Good to play stuff in a small place and in front of
people real close. Helps us get a better feel for this new record.
BE: How much have you been playing live the past few months?
JT: These are the first five or six shows we’ve done in a long time. We
did a small show in Buffalo, one in Toronto, one in San Diego, and these Viper
BE: Must feel good to sweat again behind the kit?
JT: Yeah, it’s awesome.
BE: How’s the new stuff being received at these shows?
JT: Really well, I mean, everything’s been overwhelming. Playing it feels
great, and the reaction has been, like, they’re getting it the way we’re getting
it, you know. It’s been great.
BE: You guys really toiled over this new record. It was three years in
the making and, from what I’ve read, it was quite a struggle.
JT: Yeah, it was a struggle, but this whole record is a resolution of
that struggle. It’s all the turmoil and adversity and bullshit we went through
kinda behind us, and this is what we came up with at the end.
BE: You worked with (producer) Bob Rock again, for the second time (he
also produced their 2002 album Gravity), right?
JT: Gravity was very much a learning experience for both of us in
terms of figuring out what’s going on and working together. We just scratched
the surface on Gravity with a couple songs that were really special to
us, and we knew we were getting somewhere, and thought we could do something
really great. We did Gravity really quick, like three months. This time
we had a lot more time to get a better perspective on the songs, take two or
three weeks off here and there and start again. And when you take two weeks off
in the middle of a record you’re always gonna have a couple guys come back in
and say, “Man, this is bugging me” or “That’s bugging me.”
BE: When you take two weeks off do you still hang out as a band or do you
go your separate ways?
JT: We’d go back to our own lives and listen to the music, do our own
thing and kinda just listen to the songs. We tried to think about what’s going
on, and we knew we wanted to make a better record than we’d ever done before. We
all had to feel like we want to play this record for a long time and like it a
lot, and that took almost three years. And if we had an argument here or there,
so what? We knew we had some really good songs here and that there’s still hope
in the world.
BE: Where did the title Healthy in Paranoid Times come from?
JT: One of the songs “Don’t Stop,” it’s in the lyric and the bridge.
“Don’t Stop” was one of the last songs we recorded, and that one kinda summed up
all the stuff we had gone through. Raine (Maida, lead singer) had just gotten
back from Sudan, he was trying to compress all the things he’d experienced. The
shock was going there and then coming back here and realizing they have
happiness and hope with no material possessions, they live in mud huts. But they
have what we want emotionally, you know.
What was he doing in Sudan?
JT: He went with an organization we’re good friends with and do a lot of
things with, War Child. They’re doctors and their aim is to empower young
children in these war torn countries. Give ‘em computers and access to the
Internet so they can talk to other towns and villages and kinda get on their
feet, help them sort things out for themselves. It’s a great organization and
Raine had an opportunity to go there and see the genocide, it was a mind
altering experience, like when he went to Iraq a couple years ago. That was what
he went through, and then coming back to finish the record, you know, and going
through all the bullshit and fighting among us, the arguments, the quitting, the
firing (of Bob Rock, which didn’t last even a day). But loving this record and
loving each other is why this album is successful already.
BE: So the record’s done and you guys are looking to hit the road. You
did Live 8 last month, right?
JT: Yeah, in Ontario. It was amazing. The world was kinda thinking about
one thing for one day for once, instead of Paris Hilton and her new puppy, who
nobody gives a shit about. (laughs)
BE: Who all played the Toronto site?
JT: It was great, we had Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, The Tragically
Hip, Sam Roberts, Deep Purple, Motley Crue played. What the hell’s with those
guys, those guys are really a trip, man!
BE: I just saw them in Columbus, OH a couple months back, and honestly, I
was disappointed. It felt like they didn’t want to be there-
JT: (interrupts) “What do you mean, man! We’re not getting paid for
this?!” (laughs) Our bass player came up to me and he’s like, “I just saw
the funniest thing and almost saddest thing in my whole life!” I said, “What?” I
guess Mick Mars, who kinda looks twice dead…I say he’s Keith Richards squared.
He ain’t hell on wheels, he’s like a geriatric ward on wheels. He’s got his full
leather garb on, top to bottom, as he should, and comes hobbling out. Poor guy’s
got a degenerative spinal disease, but I’m talking about the gauntness of his
eyes and the damage he’s done to his body. Poor guy comes stumbling out of his
dressing room and he proceeds to lie down on the dirt and roll around and throw
dirt on himself. Duncan (Coutts, bass player) tells me he gets up and then he
wipes it all around, and looks at Vince Neil and says, “They’re gonna hate me on
the airplane later!”
BE: (uncomfortable pause, waiting for explanation) What?! What the hell
was he thinking?
JT: I don’t know, I think he was trying to look like Mel Gibson in that
movie…what was that…
BE: “Mad Max.”
JT: Yeah, gettin’ his Mad Max on! Once he got on he rocked probably more
than any of them. Everyone else was just…Vince was chokin’ and croakin’, Tommy
was huffin’ away, and it was really bizarre that Mick could get it going.
BE: Well, you mentioned Keith, what’s it gonna be like opening for the
Stones in a couple weeks?
JT: Oh, man, it’s gonna be great. I love the Stones. We’ve opened for
them a couple times before. We opened for them on <Bridges To Babylon> and it’s
kinda like opening
for Wal-Mart. You can’t really do anything, you can’t go anywhere, they don’t
acknowledge you’re there, you can’t meet ‘em. They’re one of my favorite bands
of all time, but they’re pretty untouchable. Hopefully, we’ll get to meet ‘em
BE: Well, Charlie’s, what, 65 or 66 now. You still gonna be behind the
skins when you’re that old?
JT: Man, I hope so. Alvin Jones was 76 and he was burnin’ still. It’s got
nothing to do with age. (laughs)
BE: What else are you listening to these days?
JT: A lot of Coltrane. I listen to Coltrane as much as I can. You know,
listening to him and the musicians in his band, it’s like they’re talking to
you. There’s way, way, way so much wisdom there, it’s an absolute thing. They’re
all doctors in a way, telling you how much you need to know. I love listening to
music like that. I listen to Bob Dylan the same way, and Neil Young. There’s so
many great new records coming out, too, especially out of Canada. I feel very
proud to have a lot of these great bands up there like Arcade Fire and Billy
Talent and Sam Roberts. These guys really believe in their music and living like
musicians should live.
I’ve heard that Sam Roberts record. I love it.
JT: These are all people who make music, and let the music make their
decisions, and they could give a shit about the other stuff. They don’t worry
about formulated songs and all the bullshit, and the managerial status and
keeping your eyes on the charts. That stuff will make you insane! It might make
you rich, but it’ll make you insane. I’ve seen and known artists go insane over
BE: So what artists keep the rock and roll torch a light the next 10 or
20 years? Who do you see making a difference?
JT: The ones I mentioned, you know. Including the ones who aren’t even
alive any more. There’s a lot of kids who don’t even know the great records.
They know Usher, but they don’t know Sly and the Family Stone. Or they don’t
know Otis Redding, and these are the guys Usher got off on. Marvin Gaye and some
sick R&B singers that just blew the doors off the place. Like, yeah, I’ll go to
that church! We gotta keep waving the flag for these big guys.
BE: So this reality TV generation we’re in…have you caught “Rock Star:
JT: Yeah, it’s a degradation of society.
BE: Poor Mike Hutchence. I don’t know what those guys are trying to
JT: That guy’s grave is spinning so hard. Wherever his graveyard is, time
is slowing down, man. That guy’s taking you back in time, his grave’s spinning
so fast. They were always a pretty cool band, they weren’t U2, and maybe that
always kinda pissed ‘em off. (laughs) They always had a pretty cool thing
going, though. Now this is like a slap in the face. Is money really that
important? I’d rather hock appliances or do some real work than have these
people do American Idol on me. And why the hell are they playing covers all the
time? This is INXS, why aren’t we playing INXS songs?! (They are: the bottom
three contestants sing INXS songs in the Wednesday elimination round. –Ed.)
BE: Thirteen year-olds watching this show who don’t know how to spell
JT: And what the hell’s Dave Navarro doing on there? I can understand if
you’re looking to the media to try and do some good, you know, like a charity or
something. But it’s like he needs help getting held up at this point. He’s
posturing, just trying to sustain.
BE: So what are they getting for a gallon of gas in Toronto these days?
JT: Well, it’s liters up there. I think it’s maybe 95 cents a liter, so
what’s that, three bucks a gallon. It’s getting crazy.
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