Web Exclusive: New album means new beginnings for BNL

Dave Bolger

The Barenaked Ladies are looking out for their fans as well as looking out for the environment.

In the modest confines of a dressing room, singer/guitar player Ed Robertson and drummer Tyler Stewart gave a candid interview with the Daily Kent Stater before their concert Saturday night at the CSU Wolstein Center. They spoke about their new album, the future of music, and how they are taking steps to reduce waste emissions and improve the environment.

Are Me, the band’s latest release, can be purchased in three different ways: as a CD, a downloadable album with two additional live tracks available from their Web site, and a deluxe 27-track edition also available from their Web site.

“We also released it in gel form,” said sharp-witted Robertson, “but it didn’t go over very well with the people at airport security.”

With the online versions of the album, fans will have the option to purchase individual songs and download them on to their iPods to listen to the songs in whatever they choose, all with the Barenaked Ladies’ blessing.

“The future of the album is the Internet,” Stewart said, “soon the album won’t be a tangible thing, like a CD, it will be obsolete. The order of the tracks is becoming less and less important to the listener and that’s fine. The death of the CD is not the death of music, it’s like the death of the 8-track.”

Are Me is the first release from the band’s own production company, Desperation Records. With nobody to answer to, members are no longer concerned with music piracy or bootlegging, in fact, they embrace it.

“The music business is reacting negatively toward the fans. We’re glad to separate ourselves from that,” Stewart said. “If you like our music, great. You want to buy it? Great. You want to steal it? Great. Chances are, you’ll come to a concert and tell someone else about our music, and that can’t be bad.”

“There is a renaissance within the industry,” Robertson said, “and if the music fan wins, it’s great for the music and the music fan,” then, with the tone of the interview shifting to a serious, business-like discussion, Robertson added, “And if the ceiling fan wins, it’s great for the ceiling and the fan.”

At show time, the band did not disappoint the eager crowd. They played hits such as “One Week,” “Pinch me” and “The Old Apartment” in addition to tracks from Are Me.

Between songs, singer Steven Page spoke of his love for Slyman’s corned beef, Robertson sang about his dogs, the band did several free-style raps, and even broke out in to a Broadway-style choreographed dance number.

Noted for their advocacy of environmental issues, the band has invited Reverb, a non-profit group of supporters of the use of bio-fuel, to join there Are Me tour. All the tour buses run on B20 bio-diesel, a cleaner, safer alternative to traditional gasoline.

“We’re trying to ‘green up’ the rock n’ roll industry, if you know what I’m saying,” Stewart said, “In most cases it is just about making a choice and Reverb is with us to spread information and facts.”

When asked how they felt about critics calling Are Me a more mature sound with more serious themes than you’d expect from the Barenaked Ladies with less emphasis on comedy.

Without missing a beat, Stewart immediately responded, “Yes.”

For the band, putting out an album, keeping an eye on the future of music, putting on an exceedingly entertaining show, and keeping an eye on the environment is all in a day’s work, and they certainly have kept their wits about them.

Contact ALL correspondent Dave Bolger at [email protected].