SameDiff BNL

Barenaked Ladies Gets Head Start

By KAREN BLISS, Jam! Music, June 17th, 1998.

With brand new singles landing at radio in the U.S. the same week, Canada's Barenaked Ladies beat out the much-anticipated track from rap innovators the Beastie Boys.

"One Week", the rap-pop single from BNL's fifth studio album, Stunt (due July 7), was the number one most added track at alternative and modern rock radio. "Ninety adds," enthuses drummer Tyler Stewart, "and the Beastie Boys got like 50."

That should be some indication of the great strides Stewart, co-vocalists/ guitarists Steven Page and Ed Robertson, bassist Jim Creeggan and keyboardist Kevin Hearn, have made Stateside thanks to the quintet's non-stop work ethic which kept them away from home for two years straight, touring behind its live album, Rock Spectacle.

That album was certified gold in the U.S. three months ago and has now surpassed sales of 775,000 units.

"We got a heck of a lot of radio support on the record," says Stewart. "We would play a lot of radio festival shows and do extremely well, and the next time we'd come through town, we'd have a sold-out show at a pretty large venue." In Detroit, on New Year's Eve, they played to 17,000 people, he reports.

When interest at home begun to wane for the band who once sold an astounding one-million copies of its debut, Gordon, BNL proved it was not just a media-hyped novelty act when new manager Terry McBride (Sarah McLachlan, Moist) came on board and decided to build a story south of the border, away from the cynical Canucks who eat their own.

McBride, who Stewart says has a great relationship with radio in the U.S. (no doubt due to his success with McLachlan), adds that his manager's primary strategy is simply to "tour your fucking ass off."

"They can always rely on us because we're a live show," says Stewart. "We're a band that works. We aren't afraid to go and play, on any stage, because we're confident that we have a great show."

With BNL's new album, Stunt, ranging from the rollicking "Alcohol" to the lullaby "When You Dream", the band offers a varied platter of clever, quirky pop to capitalize on the sales built by the "greatest hits" retrospective Rock Spectacle.

The album, due July 7, comes just two days before Barenaked Ladies kick off the 43-date H.O.R.D.E. tour, co-headlining with festival founder Blues Traveller. The only Canadian stop, so far, is Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre on July 28.

"We'll play in Canada as well, but mostly the U.S.," says Stewart. "It's a situation now where we're more popular there and it's also more lucrative to play there. So until we sell a few more records here, and it seems like the industry and the audiences are behind us a little more, we'll make an effort at coming back. But in the meantime, there's too much work to do in the U.S."