Call 'em Fox's Lady Peace

MIKE ROSS

, Last Updated: 12:28 AM ET

Sunday, January 18, 1998 By MIKE ROSS --

Fans of Our Lady Peace may be wondering - who's the old dude?

He's covered in birds on the cover of the band's first album, Naveed, and hanging by his teeth from a trapeze on the latest album, Clumsy. You can also see him in a series of short films that will be shown while Our Lady Peace plays the Coliseum next Friday.

His name is Saul Fox. He's a 75-year-old professional model who's into Benny Goodman and opera, likes to dance the tango and would never have heard of Our Lady Peace had he not been asked to pose for the band's album photo back in 1993. They've kept in touch ever since.

Is he mentor, mascot or a peculiar combination of both?

"He represents a whole lot of stuff with the band," says singer Raine Maida during a recent phone interview. "He's a very unique individual, a very inspiring individual.

"We chose his demeanor and his expressions to represent us on our two record covers. Naveed, he was the wise, very soulful human being, and on Clumsy, I think his other side comes out, a bit of a maybe disenchanted, unattached kind of schizophrenic who's definitely having some trouble.

"Both those elements, I think, you find in our music. There's definitely the dark side, but there's a whole lot of positivity as well. Up to now, he's just been a character that people have seen, just another album cover. Now, on the video screen, we're bringing him to life."

Reached at his home in Toronto, Fox doesn't know what to make of the attention of a famous rock 'n' roll band whose music he barely understands, but he has no problem with it.

"There are thousands of people who seem to love their music," Fox says. "I'm not 100% in tune with their music, but I have no objection to it. I believe people should sing what they love to sing, and if this is their bag and somebody loves it and they can make them happy, then go for it.

"I know the boys are very nice people. They really are. They're not punks. As far as I can tell, they're young gentlemen and that's good enough for me."

This unusual friendship between a 20-something modern rock band and 70-something retiree started while Our Lady Peace was creating the cover concept for Naveed. The band had an idea what they wanted, but had difficulty putting it into words. Fox helped clear it up.

"In helping them to express it, they felt, I presume, that I had lots of empathy for what they wanted to project," Fox says. "They were coming from a different generation than mine, actually at least two generations away, so it was a different world than these fellows come from. But I seem to understand what they said they were trying to project. This is before I heard them.

"Let me remember now," he speaks haltingly, "They were trying to project the soul of young people in a world which seemed to be different from their's.

"When they're playing among themselves and when they have people in front of them, mostly young people, who are obviously enjoying what they had to give, they were in their own world, their own milieu. Otherwise, walking down the street or going to a store, they don't feel that their soul is at home there. They probably have difficulty expressing it and this is the only way they can do it, I guess. There's a certain amount of pain involved, but I think most young people have that pain. What they have to say inside is difficult for them to express. They don't have the vocabulary. They don't have the ability to express it in words. They have a difficult time even identifying it.

"All they know is that their soul has a feeling and they've got to express it."

And that they are. While Fox might not understand Our Lady Peace's music, millions of fans do. At this point, the band has sold more than 1.5 million albums in Canada, with Clumsy approaching the magic "diamond" mark (one million sold). The new album is also nearly gold in the U.S. (500,000 sold).

Says Maida, "Just from the stuff we get on our Web site, I think people are really connecting with these lyrics. For me, it's gratifying, but it's kind of where I was going anyway, whether people got it or not."

SOUND BITES

It's been a short run for a long slide.

Less than a year ago, Our Lady Peace played the Dinwoodie Lounge, a 620-seat club on the U of A campus. Now only a hockey arena will do. But this jump in popularity wasn't as sudden as it seems. The band has logged nearly 500 shows to get where it is today.

March 1994: Album Naveed, meaning "bearer of good news," is released on Sony Music. Band had only been together 14 months and had played only seven shows. "We were a bunch of naive kids," singer Raine Maida recalls. "I don't really know if we should've had a record deal."

Oct. '94: Band plays the Rev in Edmonton.

Feb. '95: Another scheduled date at the Rev is postponed due to a slipped disc suffered by Maida.

June-July '95: After hearing the song Starseed on the radio, Robert Plant was so impressed that he invited Our Lady Peace to open a handful of dates on the U.S. Page-Plant tour.

Sept. '95: Our Lady Peace returns to Edmonton, this time backing up Van Halen at the Coliseum.

Oct. '95: Bassist Chris Eacrett is replaced by Duncan Coutts.

May. '96: Band begins work on second album.

Aug. '96: OLP returns to Edmonton again, backing up Alanis Morissette in the Coliseum.

Jan. '97: Album Clumsy released.

Feb. '97: Band performs a sold-out show at the Dinwoodie Lounge.

Aug. '97: OLP headlines Edgefest tour, topping a day-long bill at the Commonwealth Stadium.

Sept. '97: OLP is named "favorite group" at the MuchMusic video awards.

Nov. '97: Band opens for the Rolling Stones in Quebec City and also announces new Canadian tour, officially headlining its first arena shows. "I think we're ready," says Raine.


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