SameDiff BNL

A Regular Ladies Man

By JOSH MAX, New York Daily News Online, December 11th, 2000.

Steven Page says he's Barenaked normal off-stage.

Bare-naked ladies aren't usually a problem for the Barenaked Ladies.

"Women do not throw themselves at us," says singer/ songwriter Steven Page. "You'll see them screaming and swooning during the shows. But if they saw me on the street, they might say, 'Who's that big round guy with the glasses lookin' at me?'"

But Page has a philosophical view of his own less-than-rock-star looks.

"My weight is the best sight gag I have, so I might as well exploit it," he says. "And you know what they say — TV adds 300 pounds. People think I'm 5-feet-1 and weigh 900. I'm 6 feet and 200. I wouldn't sell any more records if I lost weight. I also think a lot of our fans like us because we're sort of ordinary."

Ordinary, maybe. But the Barenaked Ladies have enjoyed a decade-long career as chart-toppers, first in their homeland of Canada, then finding success with their 1998 American breakthrough CD, "Stunt," which went quadruple-platinum and spawned the No. 1 hit "One Week."

Long considered one of the best live acts, they're touring in support of their latest album, "Maroon," and are appearing at the "Jingle Ball 2000" extravaganza at Madison Square Garden Thursday night alongside Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, Third Eye Blind, Baha Men, 98 Degrees, MYA and Nine Days.

The Ladies' style of straight-ahead and fun yet substantial pop is a successful holdout in a Top 10 world of teen acts, angst-filled rockers and hip hoppers. So while the irony of performing with white-hot teen idols at the Jingle Ball isn't lost on them, Page and singer/guitarist Ed Robertson believe there's room on the charts for all kinds of music.

"I think there's always a desire for songs with substance, a little more than 'I love you, she loves him, oh you broke my heart,'" Robertson says. "But at the same time, I like 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. I always listen to what's new. Britney Spears' 'Hit Me One More Time' is a great pop song."

A surprise musical favorite of Robertson's is the controversial Eminem.

"Eminem's got an amazing style, though I think he needs to take a little more responsibility, Robertson says. "Vulgarity alone doesn't concern me. I'm a father, and I think my kid will have an awareness of what's stupid and what's worthwhile with a little guidance. I don't think sheltering kids in a 'PC' environment keeps them well-rounded or prepares them for the way the world really is."

The bandmates try to balance their musical star status with their family lives.

"It's real easy to feel lost at sea when you're performing, so I try to keep my feet on the ground," says Page. "My usual routine is I wake up late morning in our tour bus. I have no idea where I am or what time it is. But I get up, put some clothes on, get coffee, take a look at my surroundings and see that I am in the parking lot of a giant sports arena. I then wish to myself that I could go for a walk or something, but I have to visit three radio stations with the band, play two sets of five songs each in two different radio studios over the course of the day. I shake a lot of hands. I have lunch with the Barenaked Ladies, we make our way back to the venue. At 4 o'clock we have a sound check, we eat, we meet and we greet, we do our show, we have another meet and greet, we get on the bus and the next day we do it all over again.

"As you can imagine, the sheer glamour of show business is what drew us to it in the first place!" Page quickly adds.

But when the concerts are over, Robertson and Page go their separate ways.

"We have families," says Page. "And we do like to remind them of what we look like."