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Barenaked Ladies get serious

<p>Barenaked Ladies Are Me. Barenaked Ladies Are Men. Barenaked Ladies Are Meat. Barenaked Ladies Are Metal. Barenaked Ladies Are Mexican. Blame Retardant …</p>

Grown-up band members now see world differently



Chris Woods photo


The Barenaked Ladies — from left, Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Tyler Stewart and Steven Page — have released their latest effort, Barenaked Ladies Are Me.



Barenaked Ladies Are Me. Barenaked Ladies Are Men. Barenaked Ladies Are Meat. Barenaked Ladies Are Metal. Barenaked Ladies Are Mexican. Blame Retardant …


“... Barenaked Ladies are meandering,” Steven Page says dryly as the Toronto quintet’s lead singer and drummer Tyler Stewart sink into silliness discussing suitable titles for the group’s eighth studio album released yesterday.

“It’s the most album titles we ever came up with on our board in the studio,” Stewart adds. “We really didn’t like any of them. But this went on for about two weeks.”


The final verdict came down to two serious contenders: Barenaked Ladies Are Me and Barenaked Ladies Are Men.


“I went for a walk with my wife in our neighbourhood talking about album titles and they just came up in conversation,” Page says. “What they mean is how we identify with the band and also our own sense of self-identity.


“The irony of it is how much we’ve invested in the identity of the band and also how we’re learning as people with families to start to separate ourselves.”


With each member now in their mid- to late 30s, Page, Stewart, Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan and Kevin Hearn would be loathe to say the Ladies have hit a mid-life crisis. But the group that decades ago blended accessible pop and playful humour with the likes of If I Had $1,000,000, Brian Wilson, Be My Yoko Ono and later with Shoe Box and smash hit One Week now see their world view on a more serious level.


“What we write about are the trials and tribulations about life and the issues we have to deal with,” Page says.


That’s not to say the Ladies have totally ditched their fun side. The new disc finds Robertson rocking out with his boyhood guitar idol Kim Mitchell on Wind It Up. That song also inspired the band to get their fans to videotape themselves playing air guitar, upload their results to website YouTube.com and hopefully watch themselves appear on the song’s video when it finally sees the light of day.


It’s part of a more fan-friendly approach the Ladies have adopted since letting their contract with major label Warner expire and issuing the album on their own Desperation Records (which Warner distributes). And as for the album, Page says it’ll appear in several formats: The 13-track Barenaked Ladies Are Me (out yesterday), another 12-track disc called Barenaked Ladies Are Men (due in early 2007), a limited-edition double CD and several online options for fans to buy all 29 songs, including a USB flash memory stick.


“At the end of the day, we feel it’s our responsibility to look at how people can access our music,” Page says.


 
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