SameDiff BNL

Kevin Hearn Comes Clean

By ERIK CAVAGNUOLO,, February 26th, 2001.

Dubbing your band "Barenaked Ladies" comes pretty close to picking the name "Free Beer." In the latter case, the jokey moniker tends to run dry quicker than a keg at a frat party — especially when people realize there's no substance to the music. Barenaked Ladies, on the other hand, are five quick-witted, talented Canadian musicians who outsold heavyweights such as U2 and Michael Jackson in their homeland with their debut album Gordon. Despite catchy, older tunes such as fan favorites Be My Yoko Ono and If I Had $1000000, BNL's biggest hit didn't come until 1998's Stunt and the single One Week.

Now, 13 years since the group's inception, BNL (Steven Page, vocals/guitar, Ed Robertson, guitar/vocals, Kevin Hearn, keyboards/vocals, Tyler Stewart, drums and Jim Creeggan, bass) have been given a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the song Pinch Me off of their latest release, Maroon. The category has pitted BNL against such wide-ranging acts as Backstreet Boys, The Corrs and Steely Dan.

Unlike their competition, though, BNL will not attend the Awards ceremony. Instead, they are opting to tour Canada and the U.S. with a stop at Madison Square Garden. "We play AC/DC or Van Halen on our ghetto blaster to get pumped before a big show like the Garden," Kevin Hearn tells us. The keyboardist, who miraculously kicked leukemia's ass last year, also gives away the secret to living a healthy rock 'n' roll lifestyle and reveals which Hollywood lady he'd most like to see barenaked. Are Barenaked Ladies the biggest sex symbols to come out of Canada since Geddy Lee?

Kevin Hearn: I don't think you can ever be as sexy as Geddy Lee! But, I think we're right up there. There are five of us and only one of him, so you get more bargain for your buck.

PB: Is everyone in the band married?

KH: I'm the only single guy, so I was the only one allowed to do this interview.

PB: Are you nailing all the groupies while the other guys are on the phone with their wives?

KH: I have to be careful how I answer these questions... umm, no, that's really not my thing.

PB: Do the other guys bring their wives on tour with them, and if so, do they ever get on your nerves?

KH: Yeah, sometimes — it can seem like mixing business with a family trip — but overall it's fine. And it can be fun having their kids around.

PB: What's the strangest thing a fan has done to get your attention?

KH: Two days ago, there was someone waiting outside my hotel room. That's pretty aggressive. That same day, someone gave me a casino chip for $1000 and told me to give it to charity. And we sometimes get flashed during a show.

PB: Does the band have any rock star vices?

KH: We like nice wine... nothing too crazy. We must be the most un-rock 'n' roll band in the world. We have fitness equipment, and we have yogurt shakes together in the morning. Oh, and Steve [Page] just told me to say "circle jerks!"

PB: You guys are up against 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys for a Grammy. Do you think you'll win?

KH: We're the underdogs, but who knows?

PB: More importantly, can you take those guys in a street brawl?

KH: Well, I think I'd be too busy staring at [Backstreet Boys'] Kevin Richardson's eyebrows, and I'd get clocked in the head. That guy's got some serious eyebrow action going on.

PB: What's been a career highlight for you?

KH: Playing with Neil Young was very cool. Going out for pizza with Lou Reed was pretty amazing, too.

PB: Has Barenaked Ladies been to the Playboy Mansion?

KH: Yeah. Tyler [Stewart], Steve and I were there. We attended a party and Duran Duran were playing. I was probably the only person there waiting for them to go on. I was a big fan of Duran Duran in high school. The grounds at the Mansion were pretty amazing, too.

PB: Did you get to meet Hef?

KH: Yeah, we were hanging out with Hef, having a few brewskies in the hot tub... no, we didn't meet him.

PB: If you had met him, what one question would you have asked him?

KH: I would have asked him for a handjob! No, I'm kidding. You'd better not put that in. I don't know what I'd say to Hugh Hefner — he's a pretty amazing guy.

PB: Who's the hottest female in Hollywood right now?

KH: I have a big crush on Charlize Theron.

PB: Have you ever met her?

KH: No, and I probably never will.

PB: Too bad you're not attending the Grammys. Charlize might be there.

KH: Oh, don't say those kinds of things! It's weird when you meet some of these famous people. When they're really nice, it's an inspiration. But some of them are so full of themselves.

PB: How have you guys managed to stay so down-to-earth?

KH: It's all just an act. We're really a bunch of pricks. No, that's just the way we are. We have a reputation for being nice. It's something to be proud of — and we'd like to keep it that way.

PB: Why do so many funny people come from Canada?

KH: I think it's the crazy weather. It's also just a great comedy scene. It promotes a wacky sensibility up there. There are tons of comedy clubs.

PB: Did Strange Brew taint the world's view of Canada?

KH: Well, it is a stereotype that whenever we say we're from Canada we get the response, "Oh, you're from Canada, eh?" But, I do love that movie — they kind of hit the nail on the head. It was a good dose of reality for us Canadians.