Not Marooned By Success
By DAVE DIMARTINO, Launch.com, January 2nd, 2001.
As one can guess from their band's name, the men of Barenaked Ladies have always been fond of double-entendres and grin-inducing wit. However, BNL's latest album, Maroon, takes a weightier lyrical turn, exploring such issues as the meaning of life all set to the band's characteristic pop swing.
Singer Steven Page and guitarist Ed Robertson have known each other a long time ever since they were kids growing up in Toronto, to be exact. The pair formally drafted a friendship in 1988, when both were counselors at the same summer camp. The duo recruited two more camp alumni brothers Jim and Andrew Creeggan on bass and keyboards, plus Tyler Stewart on drums, and recorded their own five-song, self-titled cassette, which eventually made Canadian music history as the first independent recording to sell more than 80,000 units. This success led to a string of albums showcasing the group's tongue-in-cheek humor and in 1998, BNL exploded with its fourth album, Stunt, which spawned the huge hit "One Week."
Steve and Ed talked to LAUNCH's own Dave DiMartino about the eagerly anticipated Maroon, which was produced by the legendary Don Was. Video excerpts of their conversation can be viewed in Issue 45 of LAUNCH on CD-ROM, along with an exclusive live LAUNCH performance of "Pinch Me."
LAUNCH: When we last spoke, Stunt had just come out. Did Stunt's success affect or inhibit the making of the new record?
STEVEN: I was more nervous before we made Stunt than I was before making Maroon. Before we made Stunt, we had a bit of success with singles like "The Old Apartment" and "Brian Wilson" from the live record. We knew that in some ways, because we'd been around for a while, [Stunt] was kind of our last chance. We finally had an audience who was anticipating a new record. And that was exciting for us, but really scary, and I think we had all those pressures that bands often feel on their second records at the point of Stunt, which was our fifth. Going into Maroon, we were encouraged by the success of Stunt. I think the fact that we could have the success we did with a record that felt totally natural to us, that just felt like ourselves, made us feel like, "Let's just do what we do." Once we had a bunch of songs under our belts, it was kind of like, "This is going to be fun!" Once the band started playing at rehearsals, it was liberating, because we didn't have to think about anybody else's concerns for the record except ours.
ED: I think the success of Stunt was rather liberating going into this record, because it gave us confidence that we could write songs and play together and be a band and have that kind of success come to us. We didn't go seeking the golden chalice. We made another record and it did really well. So I think going into Maroon, we just felt a confidence that we did our thing and people liked it, so let's do our thing. We don't have to repeat or attain anything, we're just going to try to make a great record.
LAUNCH: The obvious question here must be: What is Maroon? Why the title?
STEVEN: We liked how the title worked for Stunt the title was kind of ambiguous, it had multiple meanings, and it was evocative without being explicit. We were looking for something like that. We had a whole list of album titles for this album on the wall at the studio that people were just adding things to all the time, and we weren't happy with any of them, really. And as it was getting close to the deadline, as is always the case, and we just kept saying, "What is this album called?" And we said, "Well, let's just look for something that is a one-word, ambiguous thing," and I think that Ed said, "Maybe something like a color or an element or something?" So I said, "OK, a color." We had this album by Ken Nardin, from the late '60s, which are spoken-word jazz poems about different colors over a kind of psychedelic-jazz backing track. So I thought, "Well, what's our favorite track on Colors?" And "Maroon" it was. And since then, we've been kind of introduced or exposed to a bunch of different meanings for the word, so that was great.
ED: We actually want to suggest the ambiguous nature of the word "maroon," because a lot of people think of Bugs Bunny "What a maroon!" or the connotation of being marooned somewhere, but also the color is even harder to describe. Some people point at purple and say, "Oh, that's a nice maroon thing" and you go, "No, that's purple. Maroon is more brown." It's kind of a hard color to pin down. But the thing that drew us to it the most is the album in the late '60s by a poet named Ken Nordin called Colors an each track on the record is about a different color. And every track is two minutes long, exactly. We printed the ["Maroon"] poem on first the page of the liner notes for the record, but you'll have to go to the Ken Nordin record to get the amazing music along with the poem. We liked what Stunt did as a title it suggested a lot of different things, and we were looking for a similar vibe with Maroon.
LAUNCH: Don Was is a very well-known producer, and it was interesting that you chose him to produce Maroon. What did he bring to the record?
STEVEN: Don is a great musician, and so he's got a great ear and a great mind for music, but his greatest thing is his own self-restraint and [how] he encourages not messing it up. He prefers sparser arrangements, rather than fuller ones. For us, making records has been our opportunity to throw everything into the mix. We usually only have five instruments on the go at one time on the stage, but in the studio, you could just pile everything on there. And what he said is, "You guys are a great live band. Let's get that essence, and then we'll build on to it what we need." But he's not the kind of producer who will put his stamp or a fingerprint on our music, like some producers do. He doesn't have a "sound." His thing is just to try to capture the sound of the band itself.
ED: We went with Don Was simply because of his enthusiasm for the project. Our record company, Reprise, who we have a great relationship with, was encouraging us to go with a world-class producer. I kind of had my back up about world-class producers, because I thought we've been doing fine so far. Maybe Susan Rogers and David Leonard don't have the ring of Steve Lillywhite or Hugh Padgham or Don Was, but they are great. I didn't know what [Reprise] was going for or what they wanted, but we trust Sue Drew, who has been working A&R with us for a couple of years, so we decided to send out kits to some of these people. And out of all the people, Don was a guy who responded back and said, "I really like this band. I want to meet with the guys." He flew to San Francisco and caught a show and had dinner with us. I remember he came into the dressing room after the show and he walked downstairs and he said, "Ed, Steve, Jim, Ty, Kev...I get it. I fucking get it. I love what you guys do. I like the humor it's humorous, but it's not slapstick, it's more wry, and I love it." And then he said, "I don't need to hear new songs. Whatever you guys are doing next, I want to do it. I want to be involved, and I've got so much to bring to this project." That kind of enthusiasm just got us so excited, and when he heard the songs, he was over the moon.
LAUNCH: Is it a goal to capture the live energy on an album? Can it be captured?
ED: I don't think anyone will ever capture the energy of a live show in a strictly audio recording, because so much of the energy of the show is visual. If you listen to a smoking guitar track, you go, "Wow, that sounds great," but if you see Stevie Ray Vaughn sweating his ass off and playing it, you are going to be more moved it's that simple. Visual stimulus makes that much of a difference. You will never transcend that component and get it from audio alone, so you have to get it somewhere else. You can go see a live show and it will be the best thing you've ever heard, but if you listen to just the tape, it will never be as good. That will always be the case. So when you go into the studio, you have to get that energy from somewhere else. Just jumping up and down is not going to give you energy on a guitar track, but it will help in a live show. Our goal is to make great records and do great shows, and I don't think they will ever be the same.
LAUNCH: I think Don Was did a great job on that. How did the act of writing songs together differ from previous albums? Did you spend less time together? Or more time together? Tell me about the writing process on this album.
STEVEN: We would get together usually at my house and occasionally at Ed's house five days a week, every day for about a month or so, and it was kind of like work. But the way we've learned to approach writing is that although there is something valid and romantic about waiting for the muse to strike and so on, it could take you forever. You kind of have to approach it as a craftsperson. There are craftspeople that make beautiful things, but they sit down and work. Painters or visual artists sit down and work every day, and they glean inspiration from the process of working. So Ed would come over and we'd kind of have a few little skeletons of songs and ideas, and just work on them together and just bounce lines off each other. I think a lot of songwriting duos do a lot of like, "You write the music, I'll write the lyrics," or "I'll write all the lyrics and we'll just work on the music together." Ed and I usually either take a song in which one of us has written all the music and we write the lyrics together, or we write the whole thing together. I think a lot of our strengths are in the way we bounce the lyrics off each other.
ED: Steve and I have been writing together for 12 years now. I think that has been a steady process of learning for us, and I think we get better at it. On this record, we've made the most concerted effort to write as much as possible together. We talked about it a lot before writing the record, and I think we write our best songs together. We have, in the past, done a lot of writing alone or with other people, and it was a big concerted effort for us on this record to write as much as we could together. We ended up writing 12 or 14 songs together, and 11 of them appear on the record. I think it gives the record a real identifiable center that's unique to this band, because it is the dynamic that Steve and I have. The dynamic just gets more informed and stronger all the time.
LAUNCH: There's a certain dark, negative tone on some of the songs. With all your success, why are these songs so down?
STEVEN: Every record we put out, I always hear, "This is your serious record" or "This is your downer record," and it's like, we must be down in the very lowest rung of hell right now. We're hanging upside down, frozen in ice, but for us it's just a matter of making records. I know the dark side had always been there, and we tend to candy-coat it sometimes with poppy-sounding music. We felt so positive with this record, more then we have in years. So it was surprising for us [that people think it sounds serious]. There were actually some songs that we cut from the record for that exact reason. It was like, "If we put this song on [the record], people will think this is our downer record." It certainly wasn't intended to be that. But our keyboard player Kevin Hearn almost died of cancer two years ago. And we spent most of that success of Stunt on the road without him while he was in the hospital. You can't help but temper your success with doubt and all kinds of questions about your own mortality and the mortality of the people around you. It just changes your senses of priority. The success is great, but there's a life to be led. I think a lot of what this album is about, more than anything, is learning to live a real life and take action.
ED: I think there's definitely negativity expressed on the record, but I think the joy of the record is that it's not purely observational negativity. This record is about taking action. It's about seeing a situation and doing something about it. It's been a tough couple years for us, in spite of the really fortunate success story that we've experienced. We've also been through some really difficult times. Kevin was diagnosed with leukemia during the recording of Stunt, and we basically watched him dying as we were leaving to kick off the most successful tour of our lives. Kev was within an inch of his life in a hospital bed in Toronto, and it was bizarre. It really put a bittersweet edge on the success, and, as they say in Spinal Tap, a bit too much fucking perspective on the success. I think we enjoyed it and we were over the moon about the success, but it was tempered with the reality that not just a bandmate, but one of our best friends, was struggling for his life. I think it made us all work harder and it made us appreciate what we had, but it made us examine what was important about what we were doing.
LAUNCH: Do you fear you may be washed-up or last year's band, now that there Britney Spears and 'N Sync are out there? Where do you see Barenaked Ladies in today's musical climate?
STEVEN: I think music kind of comes and goes in waves, and right now we have either the hard/shout-y/funky Limp Bizkit and Korn kind of bands, and then we've got the 'N Sync/Britney Spears kind of music. They are both valid, but they are in some ways polar opposites. They both live on the same plane of very timely and trendy and they are important for this time, but I think there's this huge middle ground around it. There has to be space for bands like us. I think we've always kind of snuck through the cracks, anyways. We've always eked out some kind of existence. Even in hungrier days, we were the type of a band that didn't fit in any of the main trends, but we worked anyways. I think there's this industry perception that it's as if this is our second record, even though it's our sixth: "Well, they had a big hit in '98 and then they kind of disappeared," and that's that. I mean, we didn't disappear to our fans. We kept touring, but we didn't have any big videos past "One Week," so we didn't become celebrities on the next level. There were no In Style magazine profiles of my basement renovations or something like that. Maybe that will come with this record who knows?
ED: I don't know. I'm not a fan of those 'N Syncs or the Backstreets. I don't own any of those records, but I like a lot of the songs. There are still some good pop songs in there. But I'm not rushing off to buy the Justin [Timberlake] calendar, which I saw just saw in a record store yesterday. It was really funny, because they had the 'N Sync calendar and right beside it, they had the Justin calendar. They didn't have the AJ or whoever the other guys were...no, AJ is from Backstreet Boys. They are nice guys. I met 'N Sync at a show in New York a couple years ago, and they 're really nice. I can't disparage their success. They work hard, they sing well what else is there? You can say it's prepackaged, it's not legit, it's not from the heart, but they're having a good time. They're driving kids crazy and getting them excited about music and buying music. Probably one day, that little boy or little girl who is going nuts about 'N Sync will move on and they'll have an appreciation for an exciting live show. At least it gets people's feet in the water about getting into a band and getting into music. I worshipped Rush when I was a kid. I don't really listen to it anymore, but it got me excited about music. It made me want to play in a band. I think at some point, kids who are into Britney Spears, 'N Sync, and the Backstreet Boys are going to want to perform themselves, and they'll find it doesn't really sound good in their living rooms without all the computers and the dance steps and everything, so maybe they will want to pick up a guitar.
LAUNCH: Are there any misconceptions about Barenaked Ladies that you would like to set straight? Is there something you guys do that you feel is under-appreciated?
STEVEN: I think people like us for different reasons and on different levels, and I can appreciate all those things. I think we've always thought we were maybe more interesting songwriters than people ever gave us credit for, because we were always billed as the "Clown Princes Of Canada's Geek Pop" or something. It's like catchphrases like "Canada Geek" and "Clown" are funny or something. And if you throw "quirky" in there, that becomes the focus. The average person who likes us comes to a concert because of the fact that it's a fun show. That's what I want it to be. I want it to be a fun show, but I also know that we have fans for whom our songs mean a lot. They can spend far too much time paying attention to the lyrics, but thankfully, it's rewarding to me to see the work that I put into writing these lyrics and putting these twists and jokes and turns and whatever else, in that somebody else gets them. But I think there's always the media perception that colors most people's perception of the group, and I think at least until this record most journalists haven't picked up or cared about anything beyond the kind of funny/quirky side of the group.
ED: I think were pretty lucky that we do tend to get recognized for what we do. I think a lot of people write us off or miss the point or don't see the scope of what the band does, but I don't blame them. There's a lot of music out there, and people hear "One Week" and see us jumping around and driving cars and people think, "Ah, I already got the Smash Mouth record." I do that all the time. I hear band X and I go, "I already got band Y." There's too much music to give everything your full attention, but you know, I think the live show for this band gives people a lot broader scope. A single just never tells the whole story, but I don't blame people for writing us off. I do it to other bands all the time.
LAUNCH: Do you think critics get you now? Do you think they will like this record?
STEVEN: I've seen better reviews on this record than I've ever seen on any of our other records, so it's exciting for us. We don't do it for the reviews...OK, we do. We do it for ourselves, but when you're a literate group of musicians, you feel a certain affinity for rock journalists. What drives me nuts is when a critic is consumed with coolness that has nothing to do with music, that's something else. But musically, we've never actually fit into that puzzle or the critics' lexicon. I always think there's something wrong when we've got to skew our imaging differently because they're not getting it. But you know, people like this record so far, so that's nice.
ED: I'm thrilled with the initial reviews on the record. It's the first time I've been reading reviews. And I'm going, "Hey, that's pretty close to what I think about the record," which is a great feeling, because I think people are getting what we are going for. I hope it does great, obviously, but I'm really proud of it and my friends and my peers dig it. We'll see where it goes, but I'm going to try to be happy either way.
LAUNCH: In your bio, it said something about the lyrics being able to stand by themselves, that they didn't merit further explanation and they were clearer than they had ever been before. What do you mean by that?
STEVEN: I always look back on records and think, "Gosh, that song doesn't make any sense." When I am writing a song, I have a very clear idea of what I'm trying to write about, and usually it's a story. I often think of it as if a story is going on in the background and I'm just painting a picture of it. I think on this record, it actually makes sense if the songs tell a complete story, than if they just talk about a set of emotions or opinions or whatever else. It's just in some ways a lot more conversational.
ED: I think that we've been distant in our subject matter a lot. We've always distanced the personal from it, and there's a lot of "he," "she," and "they." That viewpoint was always very external, and I think with this record, we present more of a personal I-you-we kind of subject matter and a lot of it is not as buried. I like the ambiguousness and I don't even know if "ambiguousness" is a word, but I'll use it now. I like not knowing right away what something is about. With this record, we wanted to be a little more succinct, maybe more poignant or something. We just wanted to say what we were trying to say, but I think there is still a lot to look for. There's a lot of subtext in the songs, but I think the main focus of each song is clearer. I think in the past, the balance of the text and the subtext was equal, so you didn't know what the song was really about. There was sort of multiple trains of thought, and I think with this record we just tried to shift the main thrust the subtext is under there still, but the main focus is a lot more clear.
LAUNCH: It means you're maturing in a sense, that you're not locked into a style. What is the plan for the new perception of the band?
STEVEN: We really like to push ourselves, whether it's experimenting with different [musical] styles or songwriting styles or lyrical styles or whatever else.
ED: We certainly think about that stuff. We overanalyze what people's perceptions will be and how radio is going to see it and how reviewers will see it. We always joke about what this magazine is going to say or what this person is going to say, but luckily, I think we have the confidence to do that when it's all done, you know. We never talk about that stuff until we're mixing the record, and I think that's the best way to be for us, anyway. We've got to make the record that we're there to make. We decided a long time ago to make snapshots of where we were at the time. We're not making an oil painting. We're not going to rethink it and rethink it and rethink it and redo it. The songs are the songs that we write the month before we hit the studio, and the tracks are the tracks that we get live. Just about everything on this record is live, and a lot of the lead vocals are from the bed track vocals. I think that there's an energy on this record that comes from that immediacy. Don was really integral in teaching us to learn to love our mistakes, and that little flub and that little breath gives life, you know? I think the more you clean something up, the more it loses its enthusiasm.
LAUNCH: Did it completely blow your mind that Brian Wilson covered your song "Brian Wilson"?
STEVEN: We've never had a song covered before ever except by a bar band, and even if you walk into a bar and there's a cover band and they play one of your songs, it's still to me one of the most exiting things, anyways. It's as exciting as finding "Call And Answer" on a karaoke machine somewhere. But to hear Brian Wilson sing our song called "Brian Wilson" is pretty absurd and excellent. He came by the studio when we were making Maroon to play it for us. It's like the coolest thing in the world.
ED: That was the most postmodern, bizarre thing I've ever experienced. First of all, just hearing that Brian Wilson was covering "Brian Wilson" was so bizarre. I remember turning to Steve and saying, "Of course, you knew that when we were 18 and first did this song, you knew that Brian Wilson would be covering it one day." But then Don just sort of casually mentioned, "Oh, Brian is going to be coming by the studio he wants to play you the track." It was the day we were working on "Tonight's The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel," which was very appropriate because it's the most Pet Sounds-y, Beach Boys kind of thing on the record. And [Brian] stopped in and played us this track. I remember he looked me right in the eyes when the song finished, and he said, "Is it cool?" And I thought, "Brian Wilson is asking me if his version of our song is cool." Is there anything cooler than hearing Brian Wilson playing your music about him? It was a pretty amazing experience. He left the studio saying, "Don't eat too much, guys." It was surreal. I could have dreamed it, but there were witnesses. I remember the photographer was taking pictures and he said, "Smile," and nobody did. So he said, "Say sushi," and Brian said, "Could we get some sushi?" It was very funny.
LAUNCH: That's got to be the coolest thing in the world, that's great.
STEVEN: So look for our new song " Leonard Cohen" on the next record!
LAUNCH: Do you find that now with your current success that the dynamics have changed between you and the people you know? Is it less pleasure, more business?
STEVEN: Because we are together 24/7 and it's on a business level, we don't socialize a lot with each other when we're off the road. Because when you are on the road, you don't get a chance to see all those other family and friends that you actually want in your life. But I think our relationship with each other is more pleasurable than it probably ever has been. I think we all trust each other a lot more and respect each other a lot more, and we're a lot more solid in our roles in the group and our standing in the group, and it makes for a much easier relationship.
ED: In terms of the dynamic of the band, there was a gradual shift over the years. We've been doing this for 12 years now, and this band started with a kind of youthful exuberance and excitement about making original music together. That really propelled us a long way. We saw a good deal of success, particularly at home in Canada. Our first record, Gordon, went nine times platinum [in Canada]. We worked really hard and we toured a lot. I think over a long period of time, it did become a lot more like work. We'd come in, punch the clock, do our shows, and then we would go back to our families that we were building and try to catch up with our friends. We always had a great time playing live and we always had a good time making records, but I think we felt like we were struggling to find our lives outside of the band, because what we did with the band was so consuming. And I think it's been a process over the last couple of years of reacquainting ourselves with that joy of what we do. In particular, in the making of Stunt, where we sat each other down and agreed, "We're lucky we like each other, we play well together and we're really fortunate, so let's make sure we keep this a healthy and supportive place to be." If you're fucking up, the other four guys are going to tell you. Similarly, if you know everyone's helping each other out and keeping each other together, it's a really good way to be. I think we're learning again to celebrate the joy of what we do and appreciate it. It's been a very different band to be in. The success that could have made us more esoteric and disparate as a band has brought us more together. I think it came at a great time for us.
LAUNCH: Do long-term Canadian fans resent your success in the U.S. and elsewhere?
STEVEN: I don't think Canadians resent our success in the U.S. as much as I thought they might. I have seen it happen to other artists where they had gone and made it big in the U.S., and Canadians would say, "I remember when they just played the club down on Queens Street, and now they're too big for their britches." I think we had this great success in Canada and it kind of dissipated, largely due to overexposure. It's a small country with far fewer media outlets than there are here, so it became one of those things where every time you turned on the TV or opened a newspaper or magazine, there we were. You know those stupid faces and it was very aggressively goofy all the time, and people just got sick of it. I think people just kind of forgot about us. When we started to take off, the Canadian media especially were very skeptical. They just thought it was hype or wishful thinking. When it actually happened, I had people on the street stop me and congratulate me all the time at home, so it's pretty nice. I think people are really proud of the success.
ED: I think definitely Canada's got what you call "Tall Poppy Syndrome," and I think we suffered from that after the success of Gordon. We were trying to get things going in the U.S. and I think there was a bit of a backlash, but when things really started exploding for us in the U.S., we got a really nice sense that Canada was proud, and I know that just from running into people on the street. I would run into people after making Born On A Pirate Ship and I'd get, "Hey you guys still together? I thought you had broken up." We would hear that a lot because we were spending most of our time working in the U.S. trying to build things up. But in the last couple years, I've heard nothing but, "Oh, you guys are doing Canada proud. Keep rocking." I think Canada has had enough distance from those 21-year-old guys who sold a million records. There's enough distance that they can say, "These guys are doing well and they're Canadian, so let's be happy for them."
LAUNCH: If you were in a funk and couldn't figure out if you were in Canada or the U.S., what would be the thing that would let you know you were in America?
STEVEN: If I woke up, would I be in a hotel room or someone's house? OK, I'm in the hotel room. I would pick up any product that I could find lying around, whether it was shampoo or soap or a box of cereal, and if it was in French on the back and English on the front, I would know I was in Canada. If it was written all in English, I would assume I was in the United States.
ED: Sometimes my wife will call me and wake me up and she asks, "What are you doing today? What hotel are you at?" And the lights are off and I can't see the name on the phone and I have no idea where I am. It's a very bewildering couple of minutes. Or you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and you walk into the closet. You just have no idea what's going on sometimes. Touring is pretty crazy like that, and I don't even drink or anything, so it's not drunkenness it's just absolute exhaustion and dementia. We do try to just get in touch with where we are and at least steal half an hour out of the day to get outside and walk around and try to get a sense of the place that we're in, and relate to the audience we're about to play for. I don't want to get to the place where I get onto the stage and it's like, "Hello, Cleveland!" As fast-paced, crazy, and hectic as touring has been, and although I've been bewildered in the morning, at night I always know where I am onstage.
LAUNCH: Do you think there are some directions in music that you wouldn't mind pursuing, but you feel they would not be the appropriate platform?
STEVEN: The musical stuff that I would consider doing outside the band is probably too self-indulgent to do inside the group. It may not make great records. The blessing and the curse about being in a band, especially a fairly democratic one, is that you're not just doing your own thing it's always a compromise. The song may not sound the way I imagined in my head, where if I hired the right musicians or programmed it all myself, I could probably make it sound that way but it wouldn't be the band, and it wouldn't have that essence, and it wouldn't have any other personality beyond my own. So it's good and bad.
LAUNCH: With your newfound wealth, are you a conspicuous consumer, or are you the kind of guy who saves for bad times ahead?
STEVEN: I have made a couple rock-star purchases. I've got my big, rapper-style SUV. It's only because I hate the environment and I wanted to spew out as many emissions into the air as possible. I don't do a lot of off-roading and I don't really need the size and so on. I just I'm angry at the environment, so I'm trying to do my best to destroy it. You know, I've got a few fancy things, but I don't live in some sprawling mansion next to Jay-Z or something like that.
LAUNCH: "If I Had A Million Dollars" seems to be getting a lot of extra play on TV shows. How do you feel about that? What's your take on all the use and popularity of that song?
STEVEN: It's funny, because we wrote it when we were 18 or 19 it's 11 years old or something. If someone were to recognize me here in the U.S. which is not that common, but if they were they'd probably come up to me and say, "Chickity China, the Chinese chicken," doing some line from "One Week." But in Canada, if I'm walking down the street, people roll down their windows and sing "If I Had A Million Dollars." And that song was never a radio hit, but it's a song that everybody knows. As much of a kind of novelty song that it is and you try and compare it to the serious songs we've written, I almost want to be embarrassed by it, but there's no way I could be, because there's no other song that's had the impact of that. I mean, that's pretty special for us; it makes us pretty proud. If people want to use it for a TV show or a movie or whatever else, I realize that the reason they want to use it is largely for its familiarity and that they like the song. They want to make their movie or TV show give the feeling that the song gives people. That's a nice thing.
ED: Yeah, I mean, especially with all this "Is that your final answer?" stuff. We had it first, Reege! You know what? That song has become so identifiable with this band and has meant so much to so many fans over the years. We've played that song at every show we've ever done. And we're pretty careful about where that song goes. If it's a good cause or a good thing, we'll lend that song out to a lot of charities. When hospitals are trying to raise money, we let them use it, but if it's also something that makes us laugh, like a Regis game show, we're all for it, you know. It's a hard line to walk, though, because our "too legit to quit" fans that will think you've sold out. I sold out the first time I charged someone $6 for a cassette of the songs we'd written off the stage in 1989 or '88. It's a constant battle, and you have to make a decision of where you want your material to be and how it reflects on you, but in the end, it's your music, and your fans appreciate it for what it is. I hope that our fans would rather hear us on a commercial than Vonda Shepard not to disparage Vonda Shepard; I know she has the blues and I don't want to get her in any more of a funk but you know, it's all good.