SameDiff BNL

The Barenaked Truth

By MIKE BELL, Calgary Sun, February 27th, 2001.

The Ladies are road warriors.

Believe it or not, but in this day and age of the cult of celebrity, there are some things we'd all be better off not knowing about.

Like, for instance, the sex lives of affable Canadian pop music jesters, Barenaked Ladies.

And I'm not even talking about specifics, but simply the fact that any of them have sex.

So it's a little unnerving (read: creepy) when the band's guitarist-vocalist Steven Page reveals that the quintet will soon be taking a month off from their eternal touring schedule for a baby break.

His wife and the wife of drummer Tyler Stewart are both expecting at approximately the same time.

"It's like shore leave," laughs Page, "you can mark by the day when we got home."


Moving quickly — though not quick enough — past the image which that conjures, Page's comment illustrates quite vividly what life is like these days for the Barenaked Ladies.

The band's ebullient live show and the audience that fuels it — from the packed college gigs, to the arena shows like tomorrow night's appearance at the Saddledome — keep them on the road a good chunk of the year.

Instead of griping about it, Page relishes it.

"Actually the more we do it, the more lucky to do it I feel," he says.

"We've been lucky enough to become pretty successful at it, which means we can actually put on the show we've always wanted to put on. I can afford to bring my kids out with me, we have a great crew.

"It's fun."

And, as Page alludes, it's also what has kept the Ontario band afloat, in good times and bad.

After literally bursting out of the basement and to the top of the pop charts in 1992 with their debut CD Gordon, the band's popularity continued to wane with each successive recording, and they looked to be another victim of musical bang and whimper.

"We learned what it's like to be reviled and what it's like to be loved, and kind of at the same time," Page says.

Instead of packing it in, though, the Ladies concentrated their efforts on incessantly touring the U.S. campus circuit and slowly building a name for themselves as a must-see live act akin to say the Dave Matthews Band or Phish.

"We never thought about the possibility of breaking up. I think we just went, 'OK, well here we go receding into the background in some kind of cult status,' and that's what happened to us," Page says.

"What kept us from thinking about doom and gloom was the fact that every night we'd still go out on stage at whatever college town in the U.S., and there would be 1,000 more people than there were the last time we played there, and it would be a great show.

"And it would then distract us from the fact that maybe we'd disappeared off the radar a little bit, because we were still out there doing what we wanted to do.

"So it just kind of felt nice then when the touring thing and the radio and record sales all came together at the same time."

That happened in '98 when they released the hugely popular Stunt, which featured the Grammy-nominated single One Week.

They were again on top and in demand at home and abroad, even co-headlining the hippie happening H.O.R.D.E. Tour and appearing on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show.

The release of the band's latest CD Maroon, which was produced by the highly esteemed Don Was, finds them somewhere in the middle. While not the monster seller on par with either Gordon or Stunt, the single Pinch Me earned them another Grammy nomination and the crowds still flock to see them live.

Whatever. It's just another bend or dip in the rollercoaster ride that the Barenaked Ladies call a career.

Asked if, in hindsight, he wouldn't have preferred a track that was much more level, or better yet, one that provided a steady climb to the top, Page isn't so sure.

"We would have been a lot saner," he says.

"But maybe we wouldn't have stuck it out this long, because we had tasted (success), in some ways, and maybe that whetted our appetites.

"If we hadn't of we probably would have got day jobs."