Our Lady Peace Were Inspired by a Former Boxer on New Album
It's no accident that Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace have a photo of former heavyweight boxing contender George Chuvalo on the cover of their eighth and latest album, Curve.
Chuvalo, a rugged Croatian Canadian, was once called by Muhammad Ali the toughest guy he ever fought. His claim to fame was that he could never be knocked down.
In much the same way, Our Lady Peace are starting to look a lot like rugged Chuvalo-like survivors. It's been a full 15 years since Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace released their breakout Clumsy album, which went Platinum in the States. Over the years they've switched band members, switched labels and weathered trends, but they're still fighting.
"In our own world that's true in a sense," lead singer Raine Maida tells Spinner. "We're not one of the bands that are on the reunion tour [circuit]. We've kind of made it through this and still feel like, yeah, whatever. And I feel like there've been a bunch of times where we've been knocked down, but it's like there's something to be said for just getting back up."
The band, who'll be part of the big annual Canada Day in London party on July 1, worked closely with Chuvalo on the new album, even recording a spoken word piece on Curve with him called "Mettle."
Chuvalo, who lost three of his son in awful circumstances – one to suicide, two to drug overdoses -- spends his days going to high schools talking to teens about drug addiction and maintaining his foundation. The band say they learned a lot from the World Boxing Hall of Fame member.
Watch "George Chuvalo: Never Dropped" Video
"He's also an inspiring guy to be around because in his life he's been a boxer and he's had so much tragedy in his personal life," says guitarist Steve Mazur. "And to hang out and see that he's not bitter, not an asshole -- he's a kind sweet man."
"He's very into his foundation," says Maida. "Talking to kids. They [George and wife, Joanne Chuvalo] are always into talking to kids about addiction because that's how two of his kids died. Pretty impressive human being."
"He's a pretty inspiring guy," Mazur adds.
It's not just the Chuvalo of now the band appreciates, though. They also love Chuvalo, the fighter. Particularly, Maida.
"I love boxing," Maida says. "I love UFC. I grew up doing martial arts. I still do it. When I got back into it recently I just think about the parallels to our career, what we've gone through and what a fighter has to go through. It was a really good, those metaphors are really keen to me, so I think as we I think the lyrics are a little more cryptic on this record which we also like, it's a little more ambiguous so like how do we present what we're saying with an image?
"So we started talking about 'OK, we gotta find a Canadian person.' I don't think there's a bigger Canadian icon than Chuvalo, so we sent an email, called him up, went up to his house in Caledon [Ontario], and he was the most gracious, kindest man you'll ever meet. He's an amazing person.
"I think the other thing that really in a way seductive about him is the the fact that that guy's the epitome of determination both inside and out because he's had such a tragic life. So to meet him and hear all that wisdom. That's why we put that last song on the record, the song 'Mettle,' he speaks on it. The fact that he did that for us is incredible. but just to learn, to get his tidbits of life are pretty incredible."
Watch Our Lady Peace's "Innocent" Video