SameDiff BNL

BNL: Naked and Loving It

By WENDY KALE, Colorado Daily, July 18th 2000.

BOULDER, Colo. — Don't worry if you see Barenaked Ladies running around at KBCO's Rockfest in Winter Park this weekend. The top-selling Canadian band is one of this year's headliners, and the only misdemeanor they'll be guilty of is singing Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time,"

You just never know what's going to happen at a Barenaked Ladies show. This band's been known for singing TV theme songs, telling hilarious comedy routines about Colorado rafting trips, performing their quirky brand of tunes, and getting pelted by audience members with boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

The Ladies were a hit in Canada long before they gained American fans, but when these pop-pranksters made Top 40 radio with "One Week," they became one of the top touring bands in the world.

The Barenaked Ladies first mixed alterna-pop and rock melodies with clever lyrics back in the early '90s, and earned radio-play with "Be My Yoko Ono" and "If I Had A Million Dollars." The Ladies' CD "Gordon" won the Canadian Juno Award, and the CDs "Maybe You Should Drive," and "Born on a Pirate Ship" earned the band moderate success.

As an homage to the band's career, the Barenaked Ladies have kept most of the original band members for a decade — Steven Page, Ed Robertson, Jim Creegan, Tyler Stewart and keyboardist Kevin Hearn. And the band members stuck with each other through the tough times — through the death of Page's grandmother and Hearn's bout with leukemia.

And Hearn lived to tell the tale.

"We've stuck with each other through everything, and that's why the Barenaked Ladies are still together," confirmed Hearn. "I've never worked with a group of guys that communicate as well this band, and so we've all dealt with our problems, made decisions and traveled together — so now we're really like a band of brothers.

"But it's our sense of humor that really keeps us going. We always play pranks on each other — even doing silly stuff like putting popper firecrackers in cigarette packs. Of course, I had to be the one that got that cigarette! But they all stood by me when I had to deal with the leukemia. It was a very tough fight, physically and mentally, but it made me learn who my friends really were — and this band was super true. They really gave me the incentive to come back and make music."

Hearn is particularly psyched for the new record. And this time around, he hopes to earn some of the Ladies' well-deserved success, as he had to sit out the world tour with "Stunt."

"It really was odd for me. Here, I recorded on 'Stunt,' and the album went to the top of the charts. And while the rest of the band was touring the world, I was home eating Rice Krispies. But I'm ready to go now," confirmed Hearn.

The Barenaked Ladies were ready to roll again as a full band, but they decided to make some post-success changes in their operations. Hearn's illness, the start of new families and solo projects, made BNL take the slow path into the recording studio. The band took a two-year break between records, as they discovered that health, friends and family took priority in life. But the band is excited about the new CD.

"The new record really captures the live element of our shows," explained Hearn. "We're obviously big fans of the Stones and Dylan, and we wanted to capture their brand of live show. Steve also recorded his vocals in one take, so there's this really cool energy. We even included sounds of us laughing at the end of takes, something we wouldn't have dared put on past records.

"And we decided to call the new CD 'Maroon.' Why? Because the color maroon reflects a lot of emotions. Like we have one song about a relationship in trouble, and I even wrote a heart-felt tear-jerker."

Have the Barenaked Ladies lost their comedic edge? Hearn assures fans that the band has still injected their warped sense of humor into the new songs.

And yes, it's true the Barenaked Ladies have not only been singing covers of Cher's "I Believe," but they have been parlaying their wacky sense of musical justice to Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time."

"We started playing those songs at a New Year's Eve Millennium party — you know the world could've ended, so we dragged out our potpourri of hits, as a tribute to artists like Britney and Cher. And yes, we still play Britney's song, but we have a big surprise planned for the Winter Park show.

"And we still throw in our TV theme songs to the mix, and we even make up songs. But please tell people not throw any more boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese at us! We were getting it in our shoes, and do you know hard it is to get that stuff out between piano keys?" said Hearn.

Hearn is also psyched about BNL's film debut, "Barenaked in America." The movie will come out in September, and was directed by former "Beverly Hills 90210" star Jason Priestly. A fan of the band since the Ladies' played "The Peach Pit" on the show, Priestly was happy to accept the role of rockumentary director.

"Jason filmed us between live shows, on the buses and in our hotel rooms, and there are some clips of the live show in the movie. But fans will really get to see what happens on the road between us, the managers and the crew. We also got the chance to sing in the movie "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," directed by Ron Howard. "Happy Days" and the "Peach Pit" — it couldn't get any better," laughed Hearn.