Steven Page thinks his contribution to the Barenaked Ladies has been “diminished” by record label head Terry McBride, who said Thursday that Ed Robertson has been the “driving creative force” behind the group in recent years.
“It’s weird to see my contributions diminished,” said Page, who announced earlier this week he was leaving the group to pursue solo projects.
“The band itself was a five-way democracy and one of the great things about it is that it’s been about the five-way collaboration, but it’s also one of the things that’s made me decide to be a solo artist.”
Page felt compelled to speak out after McBride, who heads the band’s label, Nettwerk Music Group, said Robertson wrote the bulk of the group’s recent songs.
“If you really (examine) the last six, seven years of the Barenaked Ladies, it’s very much an Ed and Steve collaboration, but Ed’s written probably 90 per cent of the singles,” McBride said. “He’s really been, in the last decade, the driving creative force behind the band.”
Page says that’s simply not true, noting that aside from “Sound of Your Voice,” the rest of the singles were written by him and Robertson.
“I’ve written 50 per cent of them,” he said. “They’ve been 50-50 splits by Ed and I. I wouldn’t think even Ed would want to diminish that. That songwriting partnership has always been the core of the band.”
“(And) as far as the creative driving force? Not to diminish Ed because he’s a formidable force, but that’s the thing, you had five formidable forces with two very strong frontmen in the group.”
Page says he doesn’t know why McBride made the remarks.
“I think he wants to stay positive about the ability of the band to go forward without me,” he said. “But whether he meant to diminish my contribution to the partnership or not, that’s certainly how it ended up hearing.”
McBride, Page said, doesn’t know what went on behind the scenes.
“Terry wasn’t part of that process. He wasn’t part of the writing process, he wasn’t on the road touring with us. We started the partnership 20 years ago. It was a partnership all the way, and a really great one.
“It was a partnership worth celebrating, not denigrating. I think we have an amazing body of work that we did together and you know, that’s ours. And I’m not particularly interested in picking apart who did what, we were a partnership through and through.”
The other members of the band – Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn and Tyler Stewart – plan to continue on as the Barenaked Ladies, and have no immediate plans to replace Page.
Page said Thursday that a big reason for the split was that he felt as though the band had so many songwriting voices, his was occasionally squeezed out.
Now, he’s looking to the future as a solo artist. He’s scoring his third play for the Stratford Festival, has an album already finished with Toronto’s the Art of Time Ensemble and will soon begin work on a record under his own name.
The departure from the Ladies comes after a tough year for Page.
Last summer, the singer, his girlfriend and her roommate were charged with drug possession after police found cocaine at a Fayetteville, N.Y., apartment.
In late October, all three secured a deal that will result in their charges being dropped if they stay out of trouble for six months.
Page said Thursday that he feels really good physically, and that a tumultuous 2008 played a role in the split only in that it made him and the rest of the band re-evaluate things.
“Even after all the stuff last year, everybody was very supportive of each other, which was great,” he said. “But what last year forced everybody to do was take a good hard look at what it was they wanted from their future.”
Page is excited about what lies ahead, but he says leaving the band is “bittersweet.”
“I will miss being a Barenaked Lady like crazy, but there are other lots of other things I’m really looking forward to,” he said. “No one’s going anywhere. I’m going to continue to make music and those guys are going to continue to make music as well. I think it will be good for everybody.”