Barenaked Page Goes SoloBy KAREN BLISS, Rolling Stone, 26th May, 2005.
Singer-songwriter to release "Vanity Project" in June.
Barenaked Ladies co-frontman Steven Page will release his first solo album under the name Vanity Project on June 21st. The Toronto-based Page wrote eleven of the twelve tracks with British musician Stephen Duffy (a.k.a. Tin Tin), best known for the Eighties club hit "Kiss Me."
Page discovered Duffy—who was Duran Duran's original drummer and who currently serves as Robbie Williams' music director—by picking up a Tin Tin record as a teenager. "I got a sense just from the album sleeve that there was something more to it," Page says. "It was classic, romantic, slightly maudlin singer-songwriter stuff about unrequited love. It was a perfect fifteen-year-old-boy record."
So perfect that Page was moved to write Duffy a fan letter, and the two began a correspondence that spawned a two-decade friendship. Page even sent over early Barenaked Ladies demos, and Duffy provided feedback and encouragement. The two met for the first time in 1989 when the scholarly Page attended a summer program at Cambridge University, and Duffy invited him to hang around for a few days while his then-new band, the Lilac Time, recorded.
"Someone from the NME came to interview him, and he introduced me as a 'poet from Canada,'" recalls Page with a laugh. "That was pretty cool—as opposed to, 'This is a kid who's a fan of mine.'"
On the diverse, self-titled Vanity Project album, Page strays from Barenaked Ladies' trademark bouncy pop. The opener, "Hit and Run," is a hard-edged, electric-guitar-driven track; the jangly, harmony-laden "Wilted Rose" evokes early R.E.M.; while the atmospheric single "That's All That's All" is a ballad built around acoustic guitars and a drum machine.
Page hopes that the new project will draw new listeners. "I think there are a lot of people who would like Barenaked Ladies music, but don't realize that they would," he says. "Maybe our radio hits or the image of the band have marred their view of what we really are about. The biggest success I could hope for with this record is that it might bring in some of those people."
The Barenaked Ladies faithful will be happy to know that Page and his mates are busy writing material for their next album, to be produced by Jim Scott, the engineer on 2000's Maroon.
Page is planning a solo acoustic tour in support of The Vanity Project late this summer.