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BNL: Touring And The Danger Of Being A Good Live Band

With the new Barenaked Ladies album, Everything To Everyone, dropping into record shops continent-wide today, ChartAttack thought this would be a good time to check in with the band.

After all, unless your name is Michael Jackson (and it’s not, is it?), a new album release means a new North American tour. And news of a new tour is particularly exciting, given the BNL are justifiably known as one of this nation’s most awesomest of live acts.

Strangely enough, frontman Steve Page says the band’s rep for fine performance can sometimes be a bad thing.

“It’s funny, but I think our reputation as a good live band pigeonholed us in a way we never wanted,” he explains. “I love playing in front of a crowd – we do it all the time and we know we’re good at it. But then you come across as a jam band, · and I think we have something different than that vein of music to offer.”

It’s unlikely anyone would confuse the Ladies Barenaked with, say, Phish or Widespread Panic, but Page’s point is important. This is a band that prides itself on its work ethic, its song writing skill and its musicianship – to focus solely on how they’re funny guys on stage kind of takes away from that. It’s a bit of an unbearable malady for a Barenaked Lady.

“Sometimes ‘being a great live band’ was also an excuse people in the industry used to explain the fact we didn’t sell records. ·It was their excuse not to work hard to sell records for us, because we were a ‘live band.’ Or an excuse to not play us on the radio,” he says.

“It’s an odd stigma that we actually try to avoid because it distracts from records we’re really proud of, ones we’ve worked hard on,” Page continues. “People saying ‘[Everything To Everyone] is good, but they’re really a live band,’ in one fell swoop discounts all the time we’ve worked hard on it.”

Still, at the risk of undercutting Page’s argument, BNL are a good live band (and a good studio one, for that matter). They’ll be re-proving that again as the new tour begins in a few days (check out the dates on the bands website, but there are no Canadian dates listed yet).

Cheekily entitled the Peepshow Tour, the string of dates will consist of small venues south of the border and will draw on a distinctively Much-esque intimate-and-interactive vibe. The bulk of material will be from the new disc and the band will be fielding questions both submitted to their website and from fans in attendance, using wireless microphone technology.

Fret not, though. The band says they will be playing their home and native land come the New Year. The New Year? Wait, ·isn’t that, like, when there’s snow and sleet and stuff?

Sure, it’s funny when you hear some unsuspecting Euro-musician is playing Canada in the dead of the winter, but isn’t it strange people who should know better are willing to travel in the midst of freezing rain and malevolent winds?

“We just love touring Canada in the winter,” explains bassist Jim Creeggan. “It’s a rite of passage – you have to tour Canada in winter.”

Which means you should probably already start thinking up some good questions for the band. We’re assuming they should be of a vaguely musical nature, but if you’re desperately seeking help with your English paper comparing the depiction of gender in Shakespeare’s Othello and The Taming Of The Shrew well, we’re sure singer-guitarist Ed Robertson will think of something. He looks like a smart guy.

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