Being in the middle is a good place to be, according to Our Lady Peace guitarist Mike Turner.
The middle band between headliner Third Eye Blind and opener Eve 6 on this summer's Bonfire Tour, Our Lady Peace is afforded a lengthy set without having to carry the weight of being the top attraction.
"It's sort of neat to be the middle band. There's less pressure," said Mr. Turner in a recent phone interview from Portland, Maine. "We just get up there and play."
He knows what he's talking about. Our Lady Peace has logged time as openers, the middle act on bills and as headliners back home in Canada, where it has won two Juno awards, the north-of-the border equivalent of the Grammys. The band performs Saturday with Third Eye Blind and Eve 6 at Fort Gordon.
As a warm-up band, Our Lady Peace has opened for such heavy hitters as Van Halen, the Rolling Stones, Page & Plant and Alanis Morissette.
"We've been the opening band from hell," said the 35-year-old guitarist, the band's elder statesman. "When we opened for Van Halen, the crowd couldn't care less if we had been a juggling-dog act."
Yet, it's gratifying to win over the music police -- those guys who stand staring at the band with arms crossed waiting to be impressed by musical virtuosity.
"You'll see them poke a buddy, give a high five or some other kind of approval and it's like, 'OK, we've won over another one,' " he said.
Their almost-headlining status on this tour doesn't mean that Mr. Turner and bandmates Raine Maida (vocals), bassist Duncan Coutts and drummer Jeremy Taggart don't put their all into every performance. "We tend to be very relaxed. But we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I think the passion always comes through. We still love these songs," he said.
Since releasing its debut album, Naveed, in 1994, Our Lady Peace has enjoyed a steady climb in popularity, which Mr. Turner attributes in large to constant touring.
Back home in Canada, Saturday's bill would most likely be reversed, with Our Lady Peace on top.
After the Third Eye Blind tour ends in mid-August, Our Lady Peace is headlining Summersault '98, a mini-festival tour through Canada with Garbage, the Crystal Method, Harvey Danger and Eve 6.
Still, because of the moody nature of songs like 4 a.m., which laments a strained father-son relationship, and the self-loathing title track of the group's sophomore release, Clumsy, the guitarist is unconvinced that heat-baked, sunshine-filled outdoor shows fit the band.
"Sunlight and that go together like . . . I don't know, fish and pickles. We're not sunshiny music."
With the current crop of one-hit wonders on the modern rock scene, Mr. Turner is pleased that Our Lady Peace has been able to stick it out through two albums and continue to expand its fan base.
Released in 1997, "Clumsy goes a long way toward beating the fabled sophomore jinx," wrote Brian Rabey in Musician magazine.
Mr. Turner points to bands like Radiohead, which evolve from record to record and never rehash formulaic material, as role models.
He wants the group's albums to be treated as entire works -- something to be listened to all the way through.
"We don't like people to hit skip or random search (on their CD players)," he said.
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