The Barenaked Ladies want you to know that there’s more to them than goofy songs

Barenaked Ladies growing up
People expect the Barenaked Ladies to be funny and goofy. But what if they don’t always feel funny and goofy?
It’s a psychological battle the veteran Canadian band has waged for the past decade and a half.
“It’s still something I struggle with,” singer Steven Page says.
“Because of the image we created for ourselves, which has been turned into a caricature by the audience and the media and everybody else around us, it has pushed away a lot of people who probably would like the music.
“I worry about that less than I used to. But it always was an issue for me. You’re on stage singing a heartfelt song and some idiot is yelling, ‘Smile, come on, smile.'”
The Barenaked Ladies’ quirky side is entertaining, too, but they’re middle-aged men with children now.
The group appears to have carved out a tuneful middle ground between frivolity and seriousness with its new CD, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, which hits stores today. But finding that balance hasn’t always been easy.
“Even by the second album, we felt a little bit typecast,” drummer Tyler Stewart said. “And also, we sometimes were our own worst enemies in that the persona we portrayed for a number of years was always the goofy guys in shorts — but we really were those guys.
“The thing is, we also were serious songwriters and capable musicians. But we always have been addicted to applause, and we weren’t willing to let a show go south. You know, we probably are best known for If I Had $1,000,000 or quirkier songs like that, but then again, they haven’t been our biggest hits.”
The Barenaked Ladies — Page, Stewart, Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan and Kevin Hearn — have been active as a band since the late 1980s. They have reached the stage in their professonal lives where they can dictate their own agendas now, but they still enjoy feeding off each other’s energy.
“The title of the CD is a little ironic, because we finally are learning to not be so tied to our identity in the band,” Page said. “We all understand that we could not do this and be okay.
“I used to always feel like, ‘If this went away, what would I do?’ But we can exist as people who have families, or people who have skills, so we choose to come together to make music.
“In a sense, Barenaked Ladies are me, but Barenaked Ladies aren’t really me.”
This is not to imply the band is eyeing retirement.
“Look at somebody like Woody Allen, who did those early screwball comedies,” Stewart said, referring to the legendary movie-maker. “But you still can go to see a Woody Allen movie today and you laugh.”
At this point Page interjected.
“I think we should stop this right now, because nobody laughs at (Allen’s) movies anymore,” Page said.
“I do,” Stewart said.
“But I would be loath to say we’re at that stage of our career,” Page added. Allen is 70 years old, by the way.
“Anyway,” Stewart concluded, “the point I’m making is that (Allen) evolved.”