Musical Heavy-Weights

For Our Lady Peace front man Raine Maida, MMA is a family affair.

Raine Maida is always trying to get better at his craft. The front man of the platinum-selling rock band Our Lady Peace is reflecting on the group’s recently released eighth studio album, Curve, from inside his home offi ce in Los Angeles, California. He’s come to the conclusion that music and fighting are all about constantly honing your skills and refi ning your art. “You’re always looking for something more to add to your game,” says 42-yearold Maida. “In songwriting, it’s different chord progressions or different harmonies or trying to evolve longer melodies. It’s something you look at as an artist and songwriter. As a martial artist, you want to find other parameters and expand on your skills.”

He makes a valid point. After all, the accomplished musician has been training in various martial arts since he was a teenager living in Toronto, Ontario. A big fan of Bruce Lee movies, Maida began training in Kenpo Karate when he was 12 years old. He progressed steadily in the sport for nine years, receiving his black belt before deciding to move on to other interests.

It wasn’t until 1993 that the UFC came along and awakened Maida’s warrior spirit once again. The rocker was mesmerized by Royce Gracie, who dominated the competition with his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, despite being one of the promotion’s lighter fighters. Maida was eager to learn the submission art, but he was unable to find a school in the Greater Toronto Area that taught the discipline. That changed when a hole-in-the-wall gym called Crazy Bob’s House of Death opened in 1995. Although Our Lady Peace was touring Canada in support of their debut album Naveed (1994), the vocalist went to Crazy Bob’s whenever he got time away from the road.

“That was my first foray into learning jiu-jitsu—learning how to do an armbar and other submissions,” Maida says. “In the traditional disciplines, you never really got into that stuff. There was all this fresh knowledge for me, and I found it really fascinating. When I first started touring, I never got to train as much as I wanted to, which is probably a good thing, because I probably would’ve wanted to compete at some point. Crazy Bob’s was just like the basement in Fight Club.”

Maida got his “Tyler Durden” on at Crazy Bob’s over the next couple of years, even when free time was scarce. Our Lady Peace was gaining steam and finally crossed over into the American music market thanks to a pair of 1997 smash hits, “Superman’s Dead” and “Clumsy,” followed by 1999’s “One Man Army,” 2000’s “Life,” and 2002’s “Somewhere Out There.”

Since the band’s success, Maida has relocated to Los Angeles and started a family. Nowadays, the singer trains at the Krav Maga Worldwide facilities and has enrolled his two oldest sons in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the neighboring Robot Fight & Fitness.

Maida acknowledges that a lot of parents who aren’t involved in martial arts think that the UFC is too violent or brutal for children, but in the Maida household, MMA is sacred. It’s also a bond he shares with his children.

“I have no problem with my children watching the fights—even though they’re 8, 6, and 3 years old—because it’s a skill set,” Maida says. “My kids know what’s going on when someone pulls guard, and I think that’s pretty cool. That’s something we’ll be able to take with us through our whole relationship, and I love that we have that bond. I’ve been to live UFC events, but I really enjoy watching the UFC on television with Joe Rogan’s commentary. He’s got a good eye for analyzing everything.”

Fighting even sits at the core of Our Lady Peace’s newest album Curve. The 10-track alternative rock collection was inspired by the motivational life story of former heavyweight boxing contender George Chuvalo, whose photograph appears on the album cover. His perseverance and ability to overcome personal struggles seep into songs “As Fast As You Can,” “Fire in The Henhouse,” and “Heavyweight.”

Those concepts also directly reflect Maida’s mindset.

“I feel like I’m a fighter, in terms of being able to survive in the music business for the last 18 years,” he says. “You’ve got to be able to get knocked down a few times and keep standing up, so I feel like this record was all about us throwing some punches back and getting back up.”

Our Lady Peace is standing as tall and proud as ever. The four-piece troupe looks forward to supporting Curve all summer on the road, but Maida will keep his eyes close on the MMA world. After all, he is deeply rooted to it now and breaks down his passion for MMA as only a music nerd could do.

“It’s like finding a band from the beginning,” says Maida. “I remember hearing an early U2 record, then seeing them make The Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree, and watching that band grow. For me, the UFC has the same art and growth as a great band—from back in those early tournaments when the Gracies owned it. It’s grown exponentially from there, definitely in terms of audience and what it’s done for martial arts. It’s hard not to feel like you’re a part of something as you watch it grow.”

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