TORONTO - Raine Maida and his bandmates in Our Lady Peace have offered their vocal support to the Occupy movement, despite "vicious" opposition from some of their fans.
The 41-year-old Maida attended Occupy Los Angeles over the weekend while bandmates Jeremy Taggart and Steve Mazur attended rallies in Toronto and Detroit respectively.
The movement spread to cities across Canada this weekend, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest south of the border. Demonstrators are speaking out against what they see as a system that favours the wealthy elite but disregards the masses, or "the 99 per cent."
Maida has used Twitter to voice his enthusiastic support for the movement, and he's been surprised by the blowback from fans.
"I've had some really vicious, vicious emails and vicious tweets," Maida said over the line from L.A. on Monday.
"I'm very surprised at how polarizing it's been. In our heads, I think, it really affects everyone — we're talking 99 per cent, we're talking about by far the majority of everyone we relate to."
"To have our fans sending those vile email messages to us, it just means that people aren't understanding (the message) the right way or they're not getting the right information."
And Maida admits that it has occasionally been difficult for observers to figure out exactly what the protesters are opposing, noting that the "right language hasn't gotten out there yet."
For Maida, he sees Occupy as primarily a call for transparency and accountability for those in power.
"This is just about having a voice and not letting the policy-makers who are in bed with the bigger corporations dictate what happens to democracy," said Maida, who said that Our Lady Peace has almost finished work on a new album but he isn't sure when it will be released.
"It's representing anyone who really has a beef these days whether it's economic, whether it's (over) youth shelters being shut down across Canada, whether it is the financial crisis ... there's all these other issues that I think it's encompassing, and that's an amazing thing."
Maida brought his three kids — aged three to seven — to the protest in L.A., which he said was a surprisingly family friendly affair.
He remembers that his own political awakening came about, in part, because of the volunteers for Greenpeace and Amnesty who toted clipboards outside R.E.M. and Peter Gabriel shows in his youth. He hopes that Occupy similarly inspires young people to become more politically active.
And he wants the band's fans to understand why it's supporting the movement — even if they disagree — and to know that the group's motives are pure.
"It's easy to vilify a celebrity, so I'm happy to take those punches," said Maida, a self-described "obsessed" fan of the Vancouver-based social activism magazine Adbusters.
"I can't stand it when I see some celebrity standing up for whatever their cause du jour is, and you feel like it's some publicist trying to create that portion of their brand, and it seems so inauthentic and disingenuous.
"But at the same time, I don't see myself that way. Believe it or not, that's the truth."