The Barenaked truth

BNL, Howard Jones and OMD at Rose

By Rusty Pate

Barenaked Ladies have carved out quite a career in the 28 years since its inception. Barenaked Ladies have sold millions of albums, garnered music industry award nominations and topped American and Canadian singles charts with songs like “Jane,” “It’s All Been Done” and “One Week.”

Dayton City Paper recently sat down with the band’s drummer Tyler Stewart. As the interview wrapped up, I asked him if there was anything we hadn’t covered. The quick-witted Toronto musician did have something on his mind.

“You haven’t asked me what’s wrong with the Toronto Blue Jays or ‘wow, I can’t believe the Raptors made it to the Eastern Conference Finals,’” Stewart said.

What followed was a 10-minute conversation about sports that would have made Dan Patrick proud.

It served as an example of just how varied and eclectic the band’s tastes can run. While perhaps best known for fun songs like “One Week” and “The Big Bang Theory Theme,” they are just as comfortable with serious ballads and rockers as they are with witty, hook-laden pop.

“I think as songwriters, we’ve always been songwriters,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s clown-y or goofy or serious or whatever—we write all of it. I think lately, in the last 10 to 15 years, there’s certainly been way less songs you would call overtly humorous.”

The band recently released BNL Rocks Red Rocks, a live album recorded at the legendary Morrison, Colorado, venue.

The set was recorded for an AXS TV broadcast.

“Red Rocks is a special venue for a lot of artists, because it’s just such a beautiful place to play—it’s an inspiring place,” Stewart said. “The crowds there are always great. I think in Colorado in general there’s a wide, varied and eclectic taste in music. We’ve had great shows in Denver over the years. We knew our audience was ready, the venue is great, AXS was there anyway recording, so we took advantage and thought ‘what the heck, why not make a live record out of this as well?’”

The show was recorded during the band’s 2015 version of their Last Summer on Earth tour.

That tour featured The Violent Femmes and Colin Hay from Men at Work. Hay pops up on the live album, collaborating on his classic “Who Can It Be Now?” Stewart said the band hopes to do something similar during the current tour with Howard Jones.

“We’re currently in negotiations with Howard about that very thing,” Stewart said. “I think he’s game, which is awesome. He seems like such a fun guy.”

The tour will also feature OMD.

“This summer, we went back to our 1980s roots a little bit,” Stewart said. “OMD have so many songs that are just synonymous with our youth and a lot of people’s youth. Parts of soundtracks to films which were seminal back in the 1980s. Also, the fact that they managed to have a career from the late 1970s into now, they’re still making music and still playing music, it’s nice to be on a bill with absolute chart toppers like that.

“Howard Jones as well, lately he’s been playing more of an acoustic based set. All of his hits were synonymous with the synthesizer generation, but underneath it all, with Howard and OMD, are amazing songs. It doesn’t matter if they’re played on a synthesizer or an acoustic guitar around a campfire—the songs are good enough to stand up.”

It has been a long road for BNL, but Stewart said the secret to keeping a band together for nearly three decades is a fairly simple concept.

“There has to be that level of respect, and that’s what we have in the band among each other,” Stewart said. “I think the four guys in the band are really committed to each other and committed to being good people themselves. That really helps. You make it so you’re glad to see each other, as opposed to ‘oh, I’ve got to go to work.’ We have a healthy workplace now. That does include side projects. We certainly encourage each other to do as much as we can musically.”

BNL Rocks Red Rocks also documented what has become a BNL tradition: covering a Led Zeppelin tune.

“That is so fun,” Stewart said. “The guys really get a chance to rock out, particularly Ed on drums. It’s pretty hilarious to see him back there, just having the time of his life, rocking out. It’s also kind of scary, because he’s a really good drummer. It’s the kind of thing where ‘I’d better bring it here, because Ed’s certainly representing.’ Kev and Jim love to play the rock music as well. For me, to get out from behind the kit and surprise people a little bit with the quality of my Robert Plant impression—it’s a lot of fun. Anytime Zeppelin is involved in your life, it usually equals a good time.”

Barenaked Ladies will perform on Wednesday, June 8, at Rose Music Center at the Heights, 6800 Executive Blvd. in Huber Heights. Special guests OMD and Howard Jones are also on the bill. Doors open at 6 p.m. Show begins at 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from $23.50 to $70. Ticket prices include parking, but are subject to Ticketmaster fees and day-of-show increases. For more information, please visit barenakedladies.com or rosemusiccenter.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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