SameDiff BNL

Barenaked Ladies Still Zany And Naked As Ever

By EMILIA HWANG, Daily Bruin, August 16th, 2001.

Before the quadruple platinum success of "Stunt," Barenaked Ladies enjoyed a modest but loyal cult following. The band toured nonstop, eventually gaining popularity with its signature high-energy, take-no-prisoners stunt of a live show.

"If there wasn't a crowd we'd just be doing this in a room by ourselves,"said Barenaked Ladies bassist Jim Creeggan in a phone interview from Cleveland. "We do have a strong live following and I think that's something that we'd like to keep coming back and keeping the stoke and fire." In 1998, this five-person Canadian band, also known as BNL, broke new ground and hit the mainstream with its unique, fast-versed radio hit "One Week." "We like to keep things new and fresh," Creeggan said.

For BNL, improvisation is the key to delivering spontaneous and unique performances night after night.

Notorious for recording one song on every album while naked in the studio, the band is also known for its outrageous exploits on stage.

Constantly morphing its repertoire with senseless banter and improv, BNL delivers energetic sets that also incorporate parodies of pop hits.

Audiences that have witnessed the band's seamless covers of hits from pop culture icons ranging from Eminem and Britney Spears to Biz Markie and Celine Dion have come to expect unique and dynamic sets at every concert.

"I don't know if there's a lot of pressure," Creeggan said. "There's five of us so there's always an opportunity where someone might want to just blend into the scene, and somebody has enough inspiration to step out. So there's enough of us so that we don't always have to be on completely."

Creeggan, who formed the duo known as The Brothers Creeggan with his brother and former BNL bandmate Andy, has been known to steal the show with uncompromising solos on his stand-up bass. He said that the band members look to each other for inspiration when collaborating on the unrehearsed aspects of the show.

"It's just kind of inner instinct, to pull anything out of the fire," Creeggan said. "We just have the instinct, like somehow it has to be rescued. And I think that's something that everybody shares in the band."

Though the band members channel their collective energy to create musical mayhem on stage, they also rely on the crowd to supply energy and enthusiasm to the communal experience.

During the "Stunt" tour, the band members had the opportunity to invite different people from the audience on to the stage. They selected people with certain characteristics each night.

"I got to go up there and stand with tall lanky guy brothers," said Creeggan, who once looked like a skinny Carrot Top.

During their stops in Los Angeles, the band members have been known to invite two dancers from the audience on to the stage. In homage to the BNL classic "If I Had $ 1,000,000," the two young boys don green dresses and sneakers and have become an unexplainable staple of the band's L.A. show.

"You know, your guess is as good as mine," Creeggan said. "They were in the audience and just really enthusiastic dancers in green dresses — that I think only could happen in L.A. We saw them getting down out there and had to bring them up on stage. They were doing like back flips off my riser and stuff like that."

Although BNL toured last fall to promote its latest album "Maroon," the band brought its screwball antics back to L.A. on Aug. 14 to promote the new single "Falling for the First Time." In October, the band delivered the crowd-pleasing "Every-Song-We've-Ever-Written" medley. This time around, the band performed older tunes in their entirety.

"We're playing the hit songs that people love to get down to, but we're also getting into our songs that get buried sometimes," Creeggan said.

Though the popular "One Week" (featured in "American Pie" and "10 Things I Hate About You") garnered BNL mainstream success, it also led to the band's inevitable overexposure. Beyond the run-away hit, however, is a diverse anthology of work that has been buried beneath the poppy-rap ditty.

"It was really good for us to have that publicity," Creeggan said. "I know that sometimes the cover of the book doesn't say everything about what's inside the book, but it can give you some idea about what we're about. That's what doing these shows does, it sort of gives people an impression of us, one side of us. If they wanted to dig a little further into the puzzle, then the music's there and we definitely are proud of it."

With the band's success, Creeggan has learned that he cannot control how people listen to the band's music, let alone how they feel about it or incorporate it into their lives.

"Everybody has their own way of relating to the band," he said. "I mean, if it's putting on a green dress and doing back flips, I can dig it."