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Arts & EventsBarenaked Ladies Set to Bring the Party to Ottawa

Barenaked Ladies Set to Bring the Party to Ottawa

Barenaked Ladies Set to Bring the Party to Ottawa

By Patrick Lemieux 


“Just stay where you are, we will bring the party to you! And it will be a high quality party because we do not screw around!”

That’s the message Ed Robertson wants to send to fans and concert-goers with the song “Bringing It Home,” the lead-off song from Barenaked Ladies’ new album, Fake Nudes, released in stores and online November 17th. He says of the song, “‘Bringing It Home’ is about the kind of confidence I feel these days.  I like the line, ‘We made Rome.’ That to me is like, ‘We’ve done it!’ We’ve done all the hard work, we've been touring, we’ve been working our butts off for 29 years. I’m able to say now, ‘Yeah, we’re good at this! And I enjoy it!’ That song is a bit of a swagger.”

The Ladies will bring their show to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on November 29th, as part of their Fake Nudes Tour.

The second of the 14 tracks which make up the new album is ‘Canada Dry,’ an answer of sorts to the festive tour adventure depicted in “Bringing It Home,” returning home to find things have changed. Ed explains, “‘Canada Dry’ is kind of about a reflection on the landscape, the harsh beauty that is Canada. We get left here. Our heroes leave us, our friends leave us, our families. It’s saying, ‘This place that we all love, why does everybody leave it?’”

It’s here where the album’s strongest theme first comes forward, touched on  in other many other songs on the album, like “Invisible Fences,” “Sunshine,” “Dusty Rooms” and “The Township of King.”  

“It's about change. It's about reflecting on change,” Ed muses. “You run from change, you embrace change, you grow from change, you’re scared of change, you put up barriers to change. It’s everyone’s struggle all the time and just when you think you've mastered it you have the rug pulled out from under you again. I think life is change. And who we are is about how we react to it. And I think there's an endless well of inspiration in processing that.”

Ed goes on to say, “Some of that emotional processing is way after the fact, you know? Things that I’m articulating now are maybe things what I was struggling with five, ten years ago even, in some cases, so it's very cathartic to finally articulate them in song, but it’s not an indication that the last year was filled with emotional strife.”

Ed also talks about some of the challenges in getting those thoughts and feelings down, “It's almost like the classic love song. It doesn't matter how many love songs there are, you fall in love when you feel uniquely about someone. When you have your first child doesn't matter that everybody else has had a child, yours is unique and amazing and it affects you in a way that internally you feel like no one else has ever felt, and that's what's amazing about art and music and song. It’s that struggle to define the undefined, to articulate what everyone is always wrestling with and discovering. It's a great challenge to try and say something in a way that hasn't been said before and I love it when someone comes up to me and says, ‘This particular line touched me. It’s exactly what I've been trying to say about how I felt and thank you for that.’ It’s really beautiful.”

Ultimately, writing for the new album was a very rewarding, productive experience for Ed, “This is the first record that I started writing immediately after finishing the last record,” he explains, referring to the band’s 2015 album, Silverball, though Barenaked Ladies did team up with The Persuassions in the interim, which resulted in the collaboration album Ladies And Gentlemen: Barenaked Ladies And The Persuasions. Of writing his songs for what would become Fake Nudes, Ed continues, “I’ve never done that before and I think I need to do it again because it was a really good process for me. I started writing in the first break I had after the tour. Did a writing trip to Nashville, did a writing trip to LA later on. And what that meant was that when it came down to preproduction for this record, instead of having ten or twelve partial songs that I was stressed out about trying to finish, I had thirty-two partial songs and fifteen of them were done, and I was really happy with them. It made heading into the record much more stress free.

“I got together a couple times with Kev,” Ed tells us, speaking of his bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hearn. “There were a couple songs that I really felt great about, but that he did a section on or where he had some other input. So Kevin I collaborated on three of my songs which I think ended up with the great results. And then it was about getting together with all the guys and looking through close to fifty songs and deciding what we wanted the tone of the record to be and really just trying to make it about what songs really resonate with us right now, what feels like it should be on the record. That’s a difficult process because in a band situation you have to leave some of yourself at the door. I have to be able to go, ‘Yeah, I love that song, I’m proud of it, but that song of Kev’s is killer and it needs to be on the record!’”

Barenaked Ladies formed in 1988, when Ed called his friend Steven Page to join him onstage at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square for a charity event. A local fanbase grew from their steady workload, followed by a national fame in 1991 with their famed indie release, The Yellow Tape. Their debut album, Gordon, came out in 1992. Page’s highly publicized departure from the band came in 2009. Roberson hasn’t failed to appreciate the significance of Gordon’s 25 year anniversary.

“I grew up with the band,” say the Scarborough native. “I formed the band when I was 18. I have processed all of my adult emotions and my entire journey through this band. And my whole life is through the lens of this band. Now looking back, I can’t believe Gordon was 25 years ago. And yet, it’s impossible to fit all of the stuff we have done in less time. It has been such an incredibly wild ride. It’s remarkable to be me, but I also know that it's not a miracle. It's because we really worked hard, we were really dedicated. We really respect the relationship between each other and between the band and the audience. It's been a journey that has not been without difficulties, certainly, some of them more public than others. It has been one that has been fiercely maintained and defended and championed. We didn’t get 29 years in by just bumbling along and going with the flow. We worked our butts off and continue to do so.”

Nearly 30 years of constant work recording albums, touring and dabbling in side projects was not without some sacrifices on the part of the Ladies. Ed reflects on some of them, “I think we spent probably 15 years putting everything a distant second to the band. It didn’t matter, I just wouldn't make plans because I knew the band would get some offer that was going to be the next thing that might lead to the next level.  I moved my wedding day because we got an offer that could have possibly led to a big European tour. I’ve put everything second for so many years. It was great for a career, though it was hard for me personally. But it’s got us to a place now where I feel like I can't afford to and deserve to take a little more time. We’re touring like mad men this year. We’re doing thirty dates in Canada, we’re planning a spring tour, we’re planning a summer tour, but I’m also going, “Hey, guys, in January, I'm going scuba diving Palau!’ So I'm just going to carve out the time and I don't care what offer comes in, it doesn't matter. It can wait.”

Even after all that time, the band’s focus is still squarely on their audience. The fans are still the reason Barenaked Ladies take their show from town to town, day in and day out.

“I look out at that audience and it's not lost on me that those people got babysitters and found a place to park and paid for parking,” Ed says, humbled, thinking about the show the night before. “And I thought about the fact that they're going to be out late and they had to work the next day. All of that actually goes through my head when I'm standing there about to start a song. I just feel really grateful that I get to stand up and sing songs that I wrote for people that have a connection to them. And they made their way to that place on that night to be in the same space with me while I sing them those songs that mean something to them. And that's a big deal and I don't take that for granted.”

To coincide with the release of Fake Nudes, Barenaked Ladies will kick off their Fake Nudes Tour November 17 in Vancouver and will perform at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on November 29th. The tour comes on the heels of the band’s 27-date Canada 1 Five 0 run. For both tours, BNL has partnered with Plus1 to collect $1 from every ticket that will go to support MusiCounts and putting musical instruments into the hands of kids who need them most. Tickets are on sale now. Every ticket for the Fake Nudes tour includes a digital copy of the new album.

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