SameDiff BNL

One to One — You asked, they answered..., March 16th, 2001.

Three weeks ago users peppered the Barenaked Ladies with a bunch of great questions. Our new One to One page sent the queries to the band, and after careful consideration and a bit of whimsy, BNL's Steven Page and Ed Robertson have put the pen to the paper — or is it fingers to the keyboard? — and fired off some responses. Have fun with the answers. They did.

Q: What are some lyrics, from your songs or other artists' songs, that you find you can really identify with?
      —Marisa from Coventry, R.I.

Ed Robertson: I'd have to go with Steve Miller. I, too, am often called "Maurice," so I can really relate. Actually, I really like the lyrics on the latest Randy Newman CD, called Bad Love. He's got a way with ugliness, and bittersweet honesty that I really admire.

Q: Does writing a song to impress a girl actually work? So far my looks haven't yielded extremely effective results.
      —Brian from Lawrence, Kan.

Ed Robertson: I think it does. I wrote my wife a song when she was in university, and taped it for her to listen to. I think it meant a lot to her. I think doing anything creative for somebody else is a special gift. I'm sure Keith Flint's special someone was overjoyed upon hearing "Smack My Bitch Up." Love is a beautiful thing.

Steven Page: Only in a kind of "gee, he's clever" kind of way. I don't think it really works, and if the song happens to actually be about her, then it just ends up being embarrassing for both parties.

Q: What is the band's favorite Barenaked Ladies album? Why?
      —Judy from Dublin, Ohio.

Steven Page: Probably Maroon. I think we all feel a real sense of ownership over it. It is a real band effort. And besides, I think there's a problem if you don't like your most recent album the most.

Q: What is the most unique venue you have played a concert? What made it so?
      —Rich from Kettering, Ohio.

Ed Robertson: I'd have to go with a car rental lot in... Phoenix, or maybe it was Las Vegas or something — it was hot as hell wherever it was. What made it unique was that we played for free, the employees closed their doors so they couldn't hear us, and the only people in attendance just came for the free hot dogs. The three people who came for the hot dogs also made for a very unique audience demographic. For the first time ever exactly 66.6 percent of our audience was male. 100 percent were wearing hats (a record that still stands for us). 33.3 percent had Down's syndrome. And 100 percent were eating hot dogs. Now that's "unique."

Q: Are there any past bands/artists whose music you hear and think, "I wish I had done that," and are there any unknown bands that you've heard that you think are due to hit it big soon?
      —Alan from Alpine, Utah.

Steven Page: Rufus Wainwright, the Divine Comedy. They've made albums I wish I'd made.

Q: I've been a fan of yours for a few years now, and since you have been promoting Maroon, you have been wearing boy band-esque matching outfits. I personally think that they are hilarious. My only question is, why?
      —Caitlin from Flanders, N.J.

Steven Page: Thank you. It was supposed to be a joke, but unfortunately, most people didn't find it all that funny. It's also like some kind of Maoist ideal; we all are equal in our presentation.

Q: Ed, Is Steve a good kisser?
      —J.J. from Williston, Vt.

Ed Robertson: Well, usually yes. Steve and I have been kissing at the end of a choreographed dance number in "One Week." All was going well until very recently. The celebratory kiss at the end of the song was inexplicably followed by a pelvic thrust from both of us simultaneously. That great idea resulted in particularly sore balls for me. Last night in Vegas, we were laughing at the moustaches we've all decided to grow as a joke, and screwed up the kiss again. We ended up mashing my mouth into Steve's nose... that one hurt both of us. We'll keep trying though... it's worth it.

Q: Do you have any celebrity crushes? If so, who? Do you ever include them in your songs?
      —Ally from Bellows Falls, Vt.

Steven Page: I tried to work Juliana Hatfield into a song ("Jane"). I still haven't even met her, and no, I think I'd be too embarrassed anyway.

Q: If you could each ask one question to the rest of the guys in the band, what would you ask them?
      —Kristy from Toronto.

Steven Page: You finished with that?

Q: How did the improv/rap start the first time you did it live? And how long does it normally take you to come up with them? They're always great, and specific to wherever you're playing. I've seen you in Philly and I live in North Carolina and have seen you play in several cities. Even just days apart, there's always a new flavor to the show thanks in part to those wonderful improv raps.
      —Chris from Raleigh, N.C.

Steven Page: They are truly improvs — we never cook them up before we go onstage. Everything comes off the top of our heads. That's what keeps it fresh for ourselves and each other. Originally they had a lot less swearing in them, though.

Q: Pessimistic intellectuals (me?) are saying that artistic ordinariness is making a huge comeback these days, and absurdist brilliance such as yours isn't marketable to the masses. Do you guys think this is true? How have you guys managed to buck the trend and still see so much success?
      —Eric from Salt Lake City.

Steven Page: I think there are lots of people out there who think that we too are purveyors of artistic ordinariness. We fool them into thinking that, which lets us keep one foot in the mainstream and the other in the mire.

Q: If the world ended today what would be one accomplishment you'd be proud of?
      —Rachael from East Liverpool, Ohio.

Steven Page: Being a part of my wonderful family, and selling out Madison Square Garden.

Q: Is there any notable difference between your U.S. and Canadian fans? And what's your favorite U.S. city?
      —Diane from Buffalo, N.Y.

Steven Page: For some odd reason, Canadians like to sit down during concerts. It takes a lot of work and goading to get them to dance.

Q: My boyfriend doesn't like your music too much. But he's really into Frank Zappa. I want him to like you guys. What should I do?
      —Vicky from Chicago.

Steven Page: Break up with him.

Q: If you had to be a Backstreet Boy, which one would you be?
      —Aliza from Rochester, N.Y.

Steven Page: Poor, tormented AJ. He's the millennial Donnie Wahlberg.

Q: Who is responsible for the awesome (and hilarious) choreography in your infamous medley routines at the end of your shows?
      —Cheeka from Boston.

Steven Page: Ed Robertson, choreographer to the stars.

Ed Robertson: OK... I'll take the blame for our old-school dance moves. They weren't old school when we started doing them, but we've been a little busy over the last 12 years. There never seems to be enough time to learn any new moves. I get the urge quite often, but it's usually just the urge to add other old-school moves. The last time I thought about adding moves was when we watched Purple Rain on the bus a few weeks ago... Yikes, somebody call Sisqo!

Q: Obviously we all have "off days." Can you tell us about a live performance where you had difficulty holding the show together? What went wrong and how did you cope?
      —Merk from Eagen, Minn.

Steven Page: When stuff goes wrong (pants rip, jokes fall flat, wrong notes, tech problems), it's incentive for us to up the ante, and often it's those shows that turn out the best.

Q: Would you rather have your fans throw underwear or Kraft Dinner at you?
      —Susan from Buffalo, N.Y.

Steven Page: Underwear, please.