It all started with Paris Hilton. Perhaps the former reality TV fixture is not entirely to blame, but the adulation of more fake and diluted worlds is one that hasn’t quite left the American system. Reflecting on the political environment and the state of “social” affairs today, was the impetus for Our Lady Peace’s “Stop Making Stupid People Famous,” the band’s first single since releasing Somethingness in 2018.
“I was just so inspired politically and just felt like ‘God, what have we done to ourselves?’” singer Raine Maida tells American Songwriter. “I trace it all the way back to Paris Hilton, not her specifically, but the inception point for reality TV, of building up people, giving them this platform and fame. What is the ROI? What are we getting in return, besides a diversion from reality.”
Written by Maida in Los Angeles, who bounced it back to OLP’s Duncan Coutts, Steve Mazur and Jason Pierce in Toronto, “Stop Making Stupid People Famous” was a deeper refection of how far (back) America has gone, and a reality check, singing I’ve got the feeling we were dreaming when the shit hit the fan / And we keep making stupid people famous / Now we can’t take it back.
“I’ve never really gotten that deep before without having music or knowing where this was gonna end up,” says Maida. “I just keep thinking ‘is there an end to this shit?’ When do we flip the switch where we’re not so obsessed with this anymore?”
Drum-and bass-driven, “Stop Making Stupid People Famous” gives off the funk of the subjects at hand—the fame-obssessed, delusional, and reality-detached.
Produced by Dave Sitek (Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Weezer), who went on to work on the remainder of the band’s upcoming 10th album, “Stop Making Stupid People Famous” also needed another element: a woman. Maida had met Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova years earlier and knew she was the perfect addition, a counter to the song’s subject at hand.
“I thought it’d be great to have a female,” says Maida. “I just don’t want this to be some dumb male rock. I’m so tired of rock music. We needed to do something that is anti-rock. We needed to expand.”
As 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of their fifth album Gravity, Maida can’t help but reflect on nearly 30 years with Our Lady Peace. Admitting that he never felt as present writing in the earlier days since their 1994 debut Naveed, during the past 10 years, Maida has been soul searching and questioning the music’s relevance, and Our Lady Peace don’t want to repeat themselves.
“I try to just break out of old bad habits, where I sit down right now and write a song that I think is pretty good with my acoustic,” says Maida. “Sometimes it works out, but I just don’t know if that’s good enough anymore.”
Collaborating with the band, and experimenting, has been the most fulfilling. “I like the idea of just listening to some tracks and everyone bringing in ideas and getting inspired and building something from scratch, something that we’ve never really done before,” shares Maida. “Whether it’s something I bring in, or something Duncan has on bass, we have to feel the song right away.”