Night out with the LadiesBy JANE STEVENSON, Toronto Sun, November 20th, 2001.
Barenaked Ladies singer-guitarist Steven Page has a theory about the staggering number of greatest hits being released right now, including the Toronto band's own Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits (1991-2001), which came out last week.
"Lenny Kravitz put out his greatest hits album last year, it was huge and surprised everybody," say Page seated beside BNL's bassist Jim Creeggan in a Toronto hotel recently. "So everybody said, 'I want one of those.' I think the labels are going, 'We aren't doing that well right now. Greatest hits albums don't cost us anything to make, or cost very little.' So they can put out releases by major artists without having to invest the million-dollar recording budget. And of course they want them out for Christmas 'cause it's the big time."
Page says a greatest hits release is pretty much written into every artist's contract. In this case, the group decided to be as involved as they could.
The entire band decided the song sequencing, Creeggan helped with the remastering of the tunes, and Page wrote the liner notes. There are also two new tracks: It's Only Me (The Wizard Of Magicland), which is also being used in the video game NHL2002, and the single, Thanks, That Was Fun. The latter inspired an unusual video.
Originally, Page and bandmate Ed Robertson wanted to just use BNL's very first video, Lovers In A Dangerous Time.
"Our first video with our most recent video," Page says. But when they took the idea to the record company, no one got excited about it.
So instead, they decided to use all of their videos.
"Ed and I went into the studio, filmed our mouths and superimposed them," says Page. "Most of it's pretty convincing. It's freaky. It's a collage of all our videos as if it were done by the Aphex Twin. It's creepy."
BNL launched their Intimate & Interactive special on MuchMoreMusic last week with a vintage 1990 clip of them singing Be My Yoko Ono at Speaker's Corner. It faded to the band singing it live in the booth.
When asked if it feels like more than a decade has passed, Creegan say it depends on how you measure it.
"I think when you think of the hard times, it's probably 20; when you think of good times, it's just been a month," he says. Adds Page: "It's been hard work, though, so it has certainly felt like a journey and not like we just woke up, and here we are."
The band, which has sold a total of 2.5 million albums, most recently allowed one of their early signature hits, If I Had A $1,000,000, to be used for a New York lottery ad. Their big breakthough hit, 1998's One Week, is running in a Mitsubishi commercial.
"We'd been bugged for a long time about that," says Page about approving the use of $1,000,000. "From the second that song came out, people were like, 'Oh, we've got to use that song.' We're like, 'No, no. no.' It kind of seemed sacred to us because we knew the song meant something. I think what happened was our resistance just wore down."
As for the Mitsubishi ad, Page says: "We're really into cars."
The band also agreed to be part of a Guinness sponsored Pay Per View concert on Nov. 30 from New York City with a portion of the proceeds going to the Leukemia Society. (BNL keyboardist Kevin Hearn is a cancer survivor).
"What we're trying to do now is that if we do corporate tie-ins and advertisements and so on, we need it to be connected to a charity we believe in," says Page.