Singer/songwriter Raine Maida is probably best known as the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace. He co-founded the group in 1992 and with them has released eight albums (including a live album and a greatest hits compilation), with a ninth album scheduled to be released in early 2009. This year he released his first solo album The Hunter’s Lullaby. In addition to being a musician, Maida is a dedicated community and social activist. On October 2nd of this year he took part in Busking For Change, a fundraiser to benefit War Child Canada. The event was actually inspired by Maida, who spent twelve hours in October of 2007 busking on the streets of Toronto to raise money for War Child. Footage of this can be seen in his video for "Yellow Brick Road." His efforts raised $22,000 – enough to build the Abala school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.Recently Maida chatted with me about his music, his activism, and his plans for the future.I was introduced to you and your band Our Lady Peace through David Cook on American Idol. Have you noticed any extra attention because of that?I don't know, to be honest. I'm in my own little world here. I've actually been writing with David Cook on his first record. Were you surprised to have somebody perform one of your songs on American Idol?I guess, in a way. I don't really watch the show, so I wasn't really familiar with that. The day before [the show] I got a call from David, or the management, to get permission. That was a little interesting. [David Cook] is probably a very good advocate for that show, because he's a real artist.I know you worked with other artists as well, such as Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson. Do you approach songwriting differently when you're writing for someone, as opposed to writing for yourself?I prefer to work with artists that can start something on their own. Then it's a lot easier. I can get involved in helping shape the song or just changing the melody and stuff. Then ultimately for me - to just write a song for someone - I can't really do that. That's where you want a collaborative thing, which I didn't really used to respect. It wasn't until I [attended] a conference with Brian Eno and listened to him speak for a few hours. It's really a cool thing. The whole lecture was about collaboration, whether it’s writing, or the arts, or whatever. Collaboration is the key to revelation. It gave me a different perspective on it.What is your approach to songwriting? Do you work on the music first, or do you come up with lyrics?It really depends. There's so many different ways to approach it now compared to the typical [way]: sit down with a little tape recorder and acoustic guitar. That's how I've written all my songs for the past ten years. I love to start with a beat, or start with a lyric. It really just depends on what I was feeling like doing that day. I like that I have the ability now to start on all these different levels. I was confined to the way I used to write songs.I've been listening to your solo album The Hunter's Lullaby. Your album has a more classic '60s structure - a 30-40 minute album with 3-4 minute songs.This record is so different from my band. I wanted to be very lyric-oriented. I don't consider myself to be a spoken word poet, but definitely I was inspired by Kerouac and all those guys back in the '50s. The whole beat generation, it was a big deal for me. And then to get into guys like Saul Williams, Sage Francis, all these heavy spoken word/music guys today. I just wanted it to exist somewhere in there. And then take Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and all the artists I grew up with from Canada, [it’s] somewhere in between there. It was definitely about the stories, whereas Our Lady Peace is more about the whole thing, more “the wall of sound.” I never get to be as intimate as this record is. So it ended up that only 3 minutes or so was enough to tell the story, because there's no guitar solos. The music part of it is very much a backdrop for the poetry and the words.Had you come up with most of the lyrics before you put the music behind them?I did. I had a bunch of pages around the studio, all these pieces of poetry or streams of conscious thoughts written down. I would grab one of those and actually try to figure out the flow of the words and put a beat to it. So it pretty much sounded like a straight up hip-hop record - just beats and words, maybe a little bit of guitar. It wasn't until I started to lay in some cello and real drums that I felt like, ‘Okay this is my thing.’ I'm not trying to be hip-hop. Were you always planning for these poems to be set to music on an album?It took me a while to figure out the right backdrop for the words. The first three songs that I'd written, I felt like I got into this groove where I didn't want it to be anything close to Our Lady Peace. It felt like I had to always keep the lyrics front and center. I didn't want anything to ever take away from that. It's just a bunch of interesting little textures, but really the words are always upfront. They never get drowned out.When you're writing for Our Lady Peace, how is that different in your approach to songwriting? Is the writing a collaboration with other members of the band?Yeah, I think we try for that, even if I bring in an idea. I don't usually demo stuff too much. I would just play it on acoustic and we would all get in the studio and jam it up and tape stuff. And kind of piece it together that way. So it's much more collaborative, everyone gets to have their say and put their stamp on it, which is important. After 12 years of doing this as a band - that's what makes it a band. Otherwise, I don't think we'd still be together if it was just, 'Oh guys, play it like this.' It's gotta be somewhat democratic. That way everyone feels like they're getting their creative side out. You produced the last Our Lady Peace album.Yeah, I think we kind of followed the [route] I did with my solo record. I own my facility and it was really liberating. That feels like kind of a cliché, but that’s the way it was. The way I made my solo record, I think we just kind of applied that to how we did our OLP record. Where it's just us in a studio, we tried to record it really quickly. We had an idea and tried to record it that day and not be too precious about stuff. When you’re in with big producers in big studios and budgets, you tend to get really precious. The stakes are so high. It's obviously very important, but I think with the creative thing, you have to let the cycle happen.