posted on October 09, 2013 12:42
The ever-entertaining Canadian group known as Barenaked Ladies have been doing their special blend of pop/rock/funk for 25 years now. The Grammy nominated group has sold over 15 million records and HAS a litany of hits in their catalog bring their one of a kind act to The Peabody Opera House this weekend for a long-awaited St. Louis engagement. I had a chance to catch up with BNL keyboardist Kevin Hern to talk about the new release, life after Steven Page and much more. Check it out below. Also, you can win a pair of tickets to the show. Instructions for how to enter can be found after the jump.
Last Summer on Earth tour the past few months, now heading into the Fall, how has the road been this year?
Kevin Hearn: Well, I really enjoyed it so far because we were all pretty happy with our latest record and it was fun to go out there and play new songs that we were excited to play and people seemed to enjoy the new record so that bodes well. I also REALLY like the lineup we had for this run with Ben folds and Guster so it was a nice place to be every day with music you like and playing outside during the Summer.
Bare Naked Ladies have a new album out now called "Grinning Streak" out now. Tell me about the new release.
KH: Well, we are very proud of it. We recorded it in Toronto with two producers. We did a bunch of songs with Gavin Brown and a few songs with Howie Beck and we have never worked with either of those guys before so it was kind of invigorating and exciting to try new collaborations. For me personally, I came into the record, where usually I would learn the songs on piano first, but I didn't do that this time and I learned the songs from a perspective of synthesizers and electronics and from the get go, that was kind of the route we took with it. And Gavin (producer) was really into that so we kind of geeked out on the synthesizer so that made it really fun for me and I know Ed also put in a ton of hard work coming up with a bunch of great songs. He did some co-writes and the first song we recorded was called "Boomerang" and we recorded that one almost a year before we recorded the rest of them but that track sort of opened the door for the direction of the record.
This being the second record since Steven [Page] left the band, was this more a step towards a new direction for the band moreso than your last release?
KH: Yes, I would definitely say so. The last record was that as well, I mean it had to be, but it was still very much close to the time and still under the shadow of those things that had transpired so it was a bit more difficult I suppose. But this one, felt more fun.
How do you view that time in the band now when Steven [Page] was leaving and maybe you were unsure of how the band would progress and develop moving forward? how do you look at that coming out the other side?
KH: I feel like something had to give. We were not in a good place. We were not having fun naturally on stage which is a huge key to our live show. It was feeling like we were sort of acting it and not feeling it. You know, I feel sad about sad about what happened because there was something really great about the five of us. I am glad that something was able to survive what happened then.
You guys sit here now having been together for 25 years. 25 years is a long time to do anything, much less be in a band together. What do you credit the longevity of the band to?
KH: That's for sure, it is a very intense relationship. I mean, being married to five guys [LAUGHS], which for a straight bachelor isn't always great. Just kidding. [LAUGHS] What was the question again? I sort of get lost off the tracks there.
But, seriously, first off, I have to say, if it wasn't for our audience and our fans and the people that allow us to do this for a living, we would not have survived. But, thankfully there is people that enjoy what we do and what we have done. We also enjoy what we do and try to communicate with each other when there are issues or problems and I think that has really been a big part of it.
New partnership with Vanguard Records after self-releasing the last 4 albums. What has that partnership been like? It seems that not a ton of bands go from the independent side of doing things on their own to then going back to a label.
KH: Well, it's not to say we didn't enjoy the independent process because we did. But there are also great benefits to working with a company that has a system intact with their people and if it works, it just works and we have had a really great experience with Vanguard thus far and we were really attracted to their label because there are other really good folks on their label and it just seemed like a really good fit.
Do you think that record labels are necessary in today's music industry?
KH: I think it is more of a case-by-case thing now. If you are an up and comer, you can really get lost in that system. But, every case is different because if you have somebody that really believes in you, that's great. But, the independent route, you are more hands on and if you can find the right people that can do the things that need to be done, that can be great too.
What is the process like with you guys on the label again? Is it more of a working partnership as opposed to you guys just delivering a product to market?
KH: Absolutely. I think they trusted us. I think they heard the single 'Boomerang' and they believed we would deliver them a good record and they did not A&R us to death or anything like that and they didn't have to come and make sure we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, they believed in what the band was wanted to partner with us so it's been great to work with them.
A major staple of Bare Naked Ladies is our live show, obviously, there is a mix of comedic elements, obviously the great catalog of songs. what is the most important part of a Bare Naked Ladies live show to you as far as production goes?
KH: There are so many songs to pick from. For me the criteria is, a good balance of the songs people will want and expect to hear. I kind of base it on when I go to see a show and maybe I am really excited about someone who has maybe been around awhile like Neil young or Leonard Cohen or whatever the case may be, there are always certain things I hope they play so I sort of base it on my own personal experiences at a show. And I also love when they play a few deep cuts that you don't expect so we usually try to put a few of those in there as well.
How do you guys put the setlist together night to night? Do you have sort of an outline structure as far as you will definitely play the hits, but as far as the rest of the set, is it that the general outline is there and the rest is kind of tossed in as you go?
KH: That is exactly it. The general set structure is there and then the day of the show we will usually talk about the other spots and discuss what thoughts we could put in and who feels like playing what. We also leave spots where we know we want to go off on tangents and mess around a little bit. People often think that we have rehearsed that stuff, but we don't, we don't talk about it. Over the years we have become good at sort of reading when it is time to jump off of that diving board with silly songs.
What should people expect that will be at the show this weekend if they have never seen a Bare Naked Ladies live show?
KH: I would say that they can expect an upbeat, fun show with good music by a bunch of guys who can actually play and who have been playing together for 25 years.
What are the plans for the band after the current tour wraps up and moving into 2014?
KH: Well, we still have our heads deep in this record so we are leaving on this leg of the U.S. tour and we start this week in Minneapolis. once that is done, we are going to head over to the UK and do a tour over there and in the new year we are going to tour Canada and then perhaps after that we will start thinking about what's next.
WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FOR THE CONTEST - THANKS FOR ENTERING
We want to give you a pair of tickets to Barenaked Ladies courtesy of our friends at Live Nation St. Louis. To enter, simply leave your favorite Barenaked Ladies song below in the comments. We will pick a random winner who will win tickets to the show. Good luck!
You can still purchase tickets for Barenaked Ladies this weekend at The Peabody Opera House at their website by clicking HERE.
Check out past interviews and show reviews in the archive by clicking HERE.
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