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The Biography of Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Barenaked Ladies members, performing onstage. In recent years, they have often performed songs in a one-mic
Enlarge
Barenaked Ladies members, performing onstage. In recent years, they have often performed songs in a one-mic "acoustic" format, as seen above.

Barenaked Ladies (often abbreviated BNL) is a Canadian alternative rock band composed of Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, Steven Page, Tyler Stewart, and Jim Creeggan. They formed in 1988 in Scarborough, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. BNL has a reputation as an excellent live band, and are particularly well-known for improvising amusing songs during their shows.

Contents

[hide]

Indie origins

The band's first tape, Buck Naked, released in 1989, was recorded in basements and bedrooms, and featured only Steve and Ed. Barenaked Lunch (also known as the Pink Tape) was released in 1990, and featured two new band members, Andy and Jim Creeggan. Unfortunately, the tape was mastered incorrectly and plays too fast. As there were very few copies made of both, these tapes are now extremely rare.

While Andy was on a trip to Ecuador and the band was lacking a percussionist, Tyler Stewart took over the position, and retained it after Andy's return.

The band first gained significant attention when they squeezed into a small "Speaker's Corner" video booth, operated by CityTV in Toronto, and performed "Be My Yoko Ono." After the song was aired on television it quickly became popular with viewers, and noticeably increased the Barenaked Ladies fan-base.

The full band's first release of note was the 1991 independent Yellow Tape, the first indie release to achieve platinum status in Canada. Sales of the tape were jumpstarted when BNL were taken off the bill of a concert at Toronto City Hall because a staffer for then-mayor June Rowlands saw the band's name and felt it objectified women, which catapulted BNL into a media frenzy.

Also in 1991, the band contributed a cover of Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" to the Cockburn tribute album Kick At the Darkness. That song became the band's first Top 40 hit in Canada.

1990s

Steven Page on The Weird Al Show
Enlarge
Steven Page on The Weird Al Show

The band's first album, Gordon, released in 1992, was a smash hit in Canada and included some of the band's most well-known songs, including "Be My Yoko Ono" (the single which helped fund the album), If I Had $1,000,000 (which spawned a Kraft Dinner-throwing tradition at live shows that the band has discouraged), and "Brian Wilson" (named after the Beach Boy who later covered the song on a live album).

BNL's second album, Maybe You Should Drive, released in 1994, fared considerably less well with the Canadian public. After the release, Andy Creeggan left the band because of his discomfort with the direction of the band and to begin college.

The band released Born on a Pirate Ship in 1996 as a quartet. The album received two large boosts from the Jason Priestley-directed video for The Old Apartment and the inclusion of the song "Shoebox" on the Friends soundtrack. Kevin Hearn was hired as the keyboardist for the subsequent tour and then was asked to join the band.

From two dates on the Born on a Pirate Ship tour during 1996, BNL recorded and released a live album called Rock Spectacle, which had a modest radio hit with "Brian Wilson."

The band's greatest success to date and greatest recognition within the United States has come from their fourth album, Stunt, released in 1998, buoyed by the #1 single "One Week". Immediately after Stunt was released, however, Kevin Hearn was diagnosed with leukemia, eventually undergoing a bone marrow transplant and spending several months in the hospital recovering. The band toured, but with friends Chris Brown and Greg Kurstin on keyboards until Kevin recovered enough to rejoin them on the road. The singles "It's All Been Done" (used as the opening theme song on the short lived animated TV series Baby Blues) and "Call and Answer" also came from this highly successful album. The band has also collaborated with singer Tom Jones for a track on his 1999 album Reload.

2000s

Maroon, released in 2000, also did fairly well in stores, led by the single "Pinch Me". In 2001, they released a compilation album, entitled Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001, from the song Box Set. It contains 15 tracks from previous BNL albums (all of them have been a single, have had their own video, or both), two tracks from other albums that the band contributed to, and two new tracks, "It's Only Me (The Wizard of Magicland)" and "Thanks, That Was Fun". The latter was thought by some fans to be a break-up song, because of its title, the fact that it was the last song on the CD, and because its video featured clips from previous videos, but used the Syncro-Vox technique so that the people would lip-sync to the new song.

Everything to Everyone was released October 21, 2003. The first single off the album was "Another Postcard," which received modest radio play. "Testing 1, 2, 3" was the second single off of the album and received a video, but no CD single, while "Celebrity" was released later with a CD single, but no video. "Maybe Katie" and an edited version of "For You" from a concert in Glasgow, Scotland were also released as singles to radio. Unfortunately, the album was their weakest-seller in years, with a short chart life, despite positive reviews.

With the release of Everything to Everyone, BNL has fulfilled their contract with Reprise Records, which has allowed the band to try internet distribution and an independent album release.

In early 2004, the band began offering full live shows for purchase as either download or CD off of an eponymous website. More recently, the latest studio album as well as a single from it have been added.

The band's most recent album is "Barenaked for the Holidays," which was released on October 5, 2004. It is their first independent record since the Yellow Tape and was distributed by Warner Music.

BNL just recently completed a pilot for a variety show, tentatively titled Barenaked Ladies Variety Show, and have submitted it to the FOX network. Steven Page also wrote the music for the Stratford Festival's musical production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It," and the band's recording of the music is available on CD from the festival. They are also working on an album at Steven Page's farm.

On July 2, 2005 BNL took part in the Live 8 concert in Barrie, Ontario, about 100km north of Toronto.

Side projects

Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn and Steven Page all have side projects that are worked on during hiatus from BNL touring and studio time. Jim is part of the alternative/jazz trio The Brothers Creeggan, with brother and former BNL member Andy Creeggan and friend Ian McLauchlan. Kevin is the frontman of Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle, who play a mix of alternative rock and jazz with many other eclectic influences. Thin Buckle features players from several other Canadian alternative bands, such as Rheostatics. Lead singer/guitarist Steven Page also has a side project with collaborator Stephen Duffy called The Vanity Project. Their first album featuring the single "Thats All Thats All" in America and "Wilted Rose" in Canada was released in June 2005.

Biography

Barenaked Ladies have authorized a biography, Public Stunts Private Stories, written by friend of the band and fellow "Scarberian" Paul Myers, brother of actor Mike Myers. It is published in Canada by Madrigal Press. An updated 2003 version includes a different cover, information about Disc One and Everything to Everyone, and fixes several typos found in the original version.

Primary album discography

Secondary album discography

  • Shoe Box EP (1996)
  • As You Like It (2005) (available only on internet)

Singles

  • 1992
    • "Enid" from Gordon
    • "Brian Wilson" from Gordon
    • "What a Good Boy" from Gordon
  • 1993
    • "Be My Yoko Ono" from Gordon
    • "If I Had $1,000,000" from Gordon
  • 1994
    • "Jane" from Maybe You Should Drive
  • 1995
    • "Alternative Girlfriend" from Maybe You Should Drive
    • "A" from Maybe You Should Drive
  • 1996
    • "Shoe Box" from Born On A Pirate Ship / Friends soundtrack
    • "Grim Grinning Ghosts" from Disney's Music From The Park
  • 1997
    • "The Old Apartment" from Born On A Pirate Ship
    • "Brian Wilson" from Rock Spectacle
  • 1998
    • "One Week" from Stunt
    • "It's All Been Done" from Stunt
  • 1999
    • "Alcohol" from Stunt
    • "Call And Answer" from Stunt / Ed TV soundtrack
  • 2000
    • "Pinch Me" from Maroon
    • "Too Little Too Late" from Maroon
  • 2001
    • "Falling For The First Time" from Maroon
    • "Thanks That Was Fun" from Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits
  • 2002
    • "It's Only Me" from Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits
  • 2003
    • "Another Postcard" from Everything to Everyone
  • 2004
    • "Maybe Katie" from Everything For Everyone - Canada single
    • "Testing 123" from Everything to Everyone
    • "Celebrity" from Everything to Everyone - UK single
    • "War On Drugs" from Everything to Everyone
    • "For You" from Everything to Everyone
    • "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" from Barenaked For The Holidays
    • "Christmastime (Oh Yeah)" from Barenaked For The Holidays


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