What Becomes A Legend Most (from left): Our Lady Peace's bassist Duncan Coutts, frontman Raine Maida, boxing legend George Chuvalo, OLP manager Eric Lawrence, guitarist Steve Mazur, drummer Jeremy Taggart (photo: Luther Mallory)
Just prior to their North American tour, a 74-year boxing legend joined Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace in a cramped Toronto hotel suite. The occasion: a preview of the Canadian band's eighth studio album, Curve, inspired by the pugilist, is due out in the United States on April 22 (it came out in Canada April 3).
George Chuvalo - the tough-as-nails Canadian heavyweight who went the distance with Muhammad Ali (1966 and 1972) Joe Frazier (1967) and George Foreman (1970) and was said to have the greatest chin of any fighter - is featured on the album cover (an early pic) and on the album's closing song, "Mettle."
George Chuvalo is featured on the Our Lady Peace's new album Curve.
Our Lady Peace has consistently gone gold, platinum and double-platinum at home in Canada. Clumsy achieved that rare feat of a diamond certification (then signifying 1 million units sold) and was platinum in the U.S. Gravity went double-platinum in Canada and gold in the U.S.
In Canada, the band has had five No. 1 singles, 1997's "Clumsy," 2000's "In Repair," 2002's "Somewhere Out There," 2005's "Angels Losing Sleep" and the current single, "Heavyweight." In America, 1994's "Starseed" reached No. 7 at Mainstream Rock and No. 10 at Modern Rock; "Clumsy" was No. 5 at Modern Rock," "Somewhere Out There" No. 7 at Modern Rock and No. 12 at Adult Top 40.
The band, which used to be on Sony Music worldwide, is now on their management's label, Coalition, which is distributed by Warner Music in Canada and eOne in the U.S.
"A song called 'As Fast As You Can' will be our first U.S. single, and it will be our second single for Canada," OLP's manager Eric Lawrence told Billboard.biz. "We start working that in the next couple of weeks. Rock radio will be serviced 'Heavyweight,' which is a rock radio hit for us here in Canada, but Alternative is going be where we'll focus 'As Fast As You Can.' Hits Magazine, who also work records, are going to be our radio promotion folks and [in Canada] it's Warner and my office."
Once the hotel suite filled up, OLP frontman Raine Maida hopped on a chair to address the crowd.
"Thank you for coming to this cramped little suite. We're very proud of this latest record. If anyone doesn't know this, George Chuvalo is on the cover and there's a lot of parallels that we drew when we were making this record, the boxing, the struggle that boxers face in and out of the ring and George for some reason befriended us and went through his collection and gave us that photo for the cover and, like I said, befriended us and we got to have some conversations with George and we taped some stuff.
Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida gets above the crowd in a Toronto hotel suite talked about the new album, Curve, and George Chuvalo's cover shot, friendship and impact on the music (photo: Luther Mallory)
"He was gracious enough to let us do that," Maida continued, "and we put it on one of the songs on the record, some of it spoken word pieces and just little insights into life because I don't know if any of you know, or how well you know George and his life story but there's so much dignity there; there's so much perseverance; there's so much humanness. He's a really incredible man and obviously a Canadian icon. So for us to have him be on this record both speaking and on the cover is a big deal to us. George is actually here."
The 74-year-old Chuvalo had a tough life: He lost a son and wife to suicide and two sons to drug overdoses. He current speaks at schools and to other youth assemblies through The George Chuvalo Fight Against Drugs Foundation. Maida announced at the event that the band will be making "a substantial donation" to the charity.
Boxer George Chuvalo going the distance with Muhammad Ali
"We've been a band for 18 or 19 years - I think everyone who has been in this business for a while, you can understand the struggle, of sometimes just keeping the band together, trying to navigate these crazy waters in the music business and then also the challenge of trying to dig into yourselves and mature as an artist and musicians and trying to make something as authentic and genuine as you can," Maida added.
"So that's what George represents for us, completely authentic, completely genuine, completely Canadian. We just couldn't be prouder of this whole thing. We're going to play a bunch of songs. We're going to start with 'Mettle,' which is the song that George is on and we'll just play a few, so drink and listen and thank you for coming."