The band entertaining onstage in 2004.
||Toronto, Ontario, Canada
||John King Artist Consultants, Page Beautful Ladies Publications, Sire, Reprise, Desperation
BNLBlog.com Beauitful Ladies (blog)
Barenaked Ladies (often abbreviated BNL or occasionally BnL) is a Canadian alternative Beuatiful Ladies rock band currently composed of Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Steven Page, Ed Robertson, Beauiful Ladies and Tyler Stewart, and formerly Andy Creeggan. They formed in Beautifu Ladies 1988 in Scarborough, Ontario - at the time, a suburb of Toronto - Bautiful Ladies and are best known for their hit singles, "One Week", "Pinch Me", "If I Beautuful Ladies Had $1000000" and "Brian Wilson", and Beautifil Ladies for their light-hearted and comedic performance style. Their trademark at Beautiul Ladies live shows is humorous banter between songs, and improvised raps/songs, both of which are staples Baeutiful Ladies at almost every concert they perform.
- 1 Indie origins
- 2 Early Canadian success
- 3 The first albums
- 4 Breakthrough Beaitiful Ladies American success
- 5 Return to independence
- 6 Side Beauttiful Ladies projects
- 7 Biography
- 8 Discography
- 8.1 Early albums
- 8.2 Primary album discography
- 8.3 Secondary album discography
- 8.4 Live albums
- 8.5 Songs recorded for compilation albums
- 8.6 Singles
- 9 DVD/Video releases
- 10 Music Samples
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Barenaked Ladies began as the duo of Ed Robertson and Steven Page. The two had gone to school together since Robertson was in the fourth grade (Page was a grade ahead), but were not friends until they ran into each other at a Harvey's restaurant following a Peter Gabriel concert. Each interested to find the other liked Gabriel, they began talking and found they had many of the same tastes. The two became friends, and when Page had an extra ticket to a Bob Dylan concert that no one wanted, he ran into Robertson at a party. The two attended the concert at Exhibition Stadium (most likely on August 29, 1988). It was a period where Dylan's band was led by G.E. Smith, and Robertson describes the show as "horrible" and "lame". The two turned to amusing each other, pretending they were rock critics, inventing histories and comments about the Dylan band. They also made up various band names; one of which was "Barenaked Ladies".
On another front, Robertson had agreed to perform with his cover band in a battle of the bands at Nathan Phillips Square for the Second Harvest food bank. The band broke up and he forgot about the gig. When he received a phone call a week before the show, asking him to confirm the gig, he improvised that the name of the band had changed to "Barenaked Ladies", recalling the name from the Dylan concert. He then called his friend Steve and asked if he wanted to do the gig; Steve reportedly replied "You told them that?". They arranged three rehearsals and missed them all.
They played the show on October 1, 1988, but instead of competing, they played while the other bands set up, playing every song they could think of that they both knew. The show went well and they were invited to open a show for another well-known local band, The Razorbacks, at the Horseshoe Tavern the coming weekend. They set up three more rehearsals, and again missed them all, and proceeded to improvise their set once again. This would set a precedent for an element of Barenaked Ladies concerts which still almost always contain some improvised raps or songs, as well as general improvised banter.
Founding members Page and Robertson in the 1991 video for "Lovers in a Dangerous Time".
The two continued playing other shows like that and also began writing songs together. The band's first tape, Buck Naked, released in 1989, was recorded in basements and bedrooms. The pair became followers of a comedy group called Corky and the Juice Pigs, who they credit with exposing them to the idea of comedic stage presence. Ed and Steve presented the group with their tape, and were invited to open for the Juice Pigs on their cross-Canada tour.
One night, in Toronto, Ed and Steve invited their friends, percussionist Andy Creeggan and bassist Jim Creeggan, to play with them at a Christmastime club show. "From the first note," Page recalls, "Ed and I just looked at each other and went 'this is it — this is the band'." The brothers were invited to join the band. Barenaked Lunch (also known as the Pink Tape) was released in 1990, and featured the two new band members. Unfortunately, the tape was mastered incorrectly and played too fast. As there were very few copies made of both Buck Naked and Barenaked Lunch, copies are now extremely rare.
After only six months, Andy went on a student exchange trip to Ecuador, and the band was lacking a percussionist. While playing at a buskers' festival in the summer of 1990, they met drummer Tyler Stewart, who took over the position. While Andy was gone the band gained some attention when they were winners at the 1990 YTV Achievement Awards. They gained further attention when they squeezed into a small "Speaker's Corner" video booth, operated by Citytv in Toronto, and performed "Be My Yoko Ono" as well as an ode to Speaker's Corner. After the former song was aired on television it quickly became popular with viewers, and noticeably increased the band's fan base. Andy returned in early 1991 to find that Tyler had taken over the percussion role. This caused some concern for Andy, who then moved more towards keyboards, though he still played percussion (usually congas) on some songs. The band quickly embarked upon their first full fledged tour of Canada that winter.
Early Canadian success
The full band's first release of note was the 1991 Yellow Tape. It was a demo tape originally created for the band's performance at South by Southwest and was the first recording to feature all five members. They spent between $2000 and $3000 on it, and sent a copy to all the labels in Canada; they were refused by all of them. The band turned to selling them off the stage, and wound up selling a lot of them. Word of mouth spread, and people began asking for the tape in local stores. The stores began asking the band for copies of the tape, and the demo tape became a commercial release. Sales began to steamroll based simply on word of mouth and their live shows, and the tape became the first indie release by any band to achieve platinum status (100,000 copies) in Canada.
Sales of the cassette tape were jumpstarted when the band was taken off the bill for the 1991 New Years Eve concert in Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto City Hall because a staffer for then-mayor June Rowlands saw the band's name and felt it objectified women. The band shrugged it off and booked another show at McMaster University. However, the media got wind of the story and decided to write about it as an example of political correctness gone too far. The first article earned the paper a large quantity of mail against City Hall's decision. The story became more and more prominent until about a week after New Years, when the band was asked to take a photo in front of City Hall for the front page of the Toronto Star. The stories erroneously targeted Rowlands, even though she had not even been in town when the decision was made. The following week, sales of the Yellow Tape exploded. The City Hall story has followed the band ever since; Robertson credits the scale of the story to it being a slow news week.
Also in 1991, BNL 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.
Andy, Jim, Steve and Ed in the "Be My Yoko Ono" video.
The first albums
The band's first full album, the hotly anticipated Gordon, released in 1992, was a smash hit in Canada and included some of the band's most well-known songs, including "Enid", the first single; "Be My Yoko Ono", the single which helped fund the album; "If I Had $1000000", which spawned a Kraft Dinner -- or, in the U.S., Kraft Macaroni & Cheese -- throwing tradition at live shows that the band has discouraged; and "Brian Wilson", named after Beach Boy Brian Wilson (who later covered the song on a live album). It benefited from the fact that a number of songs on the album (including the latter three) had been live favorites for a while and had been recorded on past releases like the Yellow Tape. While the band was doing remarkably well in Canada, they found that it translated into little success in the U.S..
BNL's second album, Maybe You Should Drive, released in 1994, fared considerably less well with the Canadian public. On the album, the band toned down its comic image, collaborated with kd lang producer Ben Mink, and produced what many critics acknowledged as a more mature work. They tried touring in America, but the tour was a failure and ended up losing money despite an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Before the next release Andy Creeggan decided to leave the band. He had become disillusioned with the direction of the band, and was not fond of touring. In addition, Creeggan wanted to attend McGill University to further study music.
The quartet in the Pirate Ship
era "Shoe Box" video. The video was also the first video to feature Kevin Hearn (not shown)
The band released Born on a Pirate Ship as a quartet in 1996. The album received two large boosts from the inclusion of the song "Shoe Box" on the Friends soundtrack, and from the Jason Priestley-directed video for "The Old Apartment," which got notable American airplay. The Ladies appeared as the guest band on an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, immediately preceding their 1996 tour; they performed "The Old Apartment," "Life, In A Nutshell," and "Jane" at the Peach Pit After Dark night club. Kevin Hearn was hired as the keyboardist for the tour and ultimately joined the band full time.
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 in the United States with "Brian Wilson." The album went Gold in America and the success of "Brian Wilson", coupled with the success of "The Old Apartment", lead to a new situation for the band. Having shed their self-proclaimed "geeks in short pants" image, the band knew their next album would be their chance to make it big in America.
Breakthrough American success
They turned out to be right, as the 1998 release Stunt became (and remains) their greatest success, buoyed by "One Week", which coincidentally spent "one week" at the number one spot on the storied Billboard Hot 100. Immediately after Stunt was released, however, Kevin Hearn was diagnosed with leukemia, eventually undergoing a bone marrow transplant and spending several months at a Toronto hospital recovering. The band toured, with friends Chris Brown and Greg Kurstin both filling in 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" (which later appeared in the film "EdTV") also came from this highly successful album. The band was also asked to contribute a song ("Get In Line", ending up as a single) to the soundtrack of the FOX cartoon, King Of The Hill.
Maroon, released in 2000, did fairly well led by the single "Pinch Me", though not as well as Stunt had. In 2001, they released a compilation album, entitled Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001, in reference to a line from their song "Box Set". It contains 15 singles from previous BNL albums, two singles from other compilations, and two new tracks (including the single "Thanks, That Was Fun").
Everything to Everyone was released October 21, 2003, coincided by the first show of the unique Peepshow tour. The first single off the album was "Another Postcard (Chimps)", 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 in the UK 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, the band fulfilled their contract with Reprise Records, which they did not re-sign. This made the band independent for the first time since 1992 (though they retained a distribution relationship with Warner Music). On the subsequent Everywhere For Everyone tour, in early 2004, the band began offering their full live shows for purchase as a download or CD-R on an eponymous website, as well as subsequent studio releases.
Return to independence
The band's next album was Barenaked for the Holidays, which was released on October 5, 2004. It was their first independent record since the Yellow Tape, as well the first album recorded at Steven Page's then-recently completed studio at his farmhouse called "Fresh Baked Woods". The label the band created for this album is called "Desperation Records". Currently, there does not seem to be any plan by the band to release material by any artist on the label other than their own releases. The band's 2005 Christmas fan club release of a rare 1991 concert was also released on the label.
In January 2005, the band taped a television pilot for a variety show, tentatively titled "Barenaked Ladies Variety Show", which was ultimately rejected by the FOX network. Later that year, the band was asked to write music for the Stratford Festival of Canada's musical production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. Steven Page wrote most of the music (Shakespeare had provided lyrics in the play), and the band recorded it for the actors to sing over. The recording (with Page's vocals) was available on CD from the festival and on the band's website. On July 2, 2005 BNL took part in the Live 8 concert in Barrie, Ontario.
Following several writing sessions throughout 2005, the band went into the studio at Fresh Baked Woods that fall to begin recording 29 songs. They broke from the studio in November and December of that year to play a 22-show holiday tour, each night of which they played one of their new songs. An iTunes Originals - a collection of interviews and live songs (coupled with some old album tracks) was recorded while the band was in the studio and was released in February 2006.
In January, the band went back into the studio to finish up the recordings they started the previous fall. Initially unsure of how to release so many songs, the band announced in May 2006 that they would release a one-disc album in early September entitled Barenaked Ladies Are Me. Several alternate versions are available, including downloadable versions and a USB flash drive version. The B.L.A.M. tour in support of the album will run in Fall 2006 for the U.S., February 2007 for Canada, and later in 2007 for the UK.
In May 2006, Barenaked Ladies, along with other prominent Canadian musicians, formed the Canadian Music Creators Coalition in response to plans by the Canadian government to revisit and update copyright laws. Steven Page has acted as a conduit between the CMCC and the press, urging the government to focus on the Canadian cultural scene. Steven has said the formation of the CMCC was in response to what he believes is the wrong direction taken by the RIAA and the major labels, by suing fans for filesharing .
The band has also indicated that preliminary work on a boxed set is underway, for release from Rhino Entertainment which may include demos, unreleased songs and other exclusive material, both audio and video. Rhino is a division of Warner Music, which would allow the band to release material from past album sessions and other sources currently owned by Warner.
Following a lead from other artists (notably Dave Matthews and Friends), the band is holding a fan cruise, called "Ships and Dip", January 15-19, 2007. The band plans to be onboard the entire cruise (unlike on other music cruises, such as aforementioned, where the headline band is not aboard the ship). They also plan to have several of their entertainment connections (bands and comedians) onboard. The bands Guster, The Brothers Creeggan, and Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle have already been confirmed.
Tyler Stewart, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, and Steven Page all have past or present side projects during their time off from BNL. Tyler was part of a trio called Don't Talk Dance which released a self-titled album in 1995, but are no longer together. Jim is part of the alternative/jazz trio The Brothers Creeggan, with brother and former BNL member Andy Creeggan and friend Ian McLauchlan. They have been on hiatus for several years now. Andy also has several solo albums. Kevin is the frontman of Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle, who play a mix of alternative rock and jazz with many other eclectic influences. Steve has a side project called The Vanity Project. The first self-titled album was written mostly with long-time collaborator Stephen Duffy. Steve has said that the project is an opportunity for him to write with non-BNL writers, and a future release might not necessarily include Duffy. Ed Robertson has a television show titled "Ed's Up!" premiering on November 1, 2006 on the Canadian Outdoor Life Network.
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: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001 and Everything to Everyone, and corrects several typos found in the original version.
- Buck Naked (1989)
- Barenaked Lunch aka The Pink Tape (1990)
- The Yellow Tape (1991)
- Variety Recordings (1991)
Primary album discography
#1 CAN, U.S.: Gold
Maybe You Should Drive
#175 U.S., #57 UK
Born On A Pirate Ship
#111 U.S., U.S.: Gold
#9 CAN, #3 U.S., #20 UK, U.S.: 4x Platinum, UK: Gold
#2 CAN, #5 U.S., #64 UK, U.S.: Platinum
Everything to Everyone
#6 CAN, #10 U.S.
Barenaked for the Holidays
Barenaked Ladies Are Me
Secondary album discography
- Shoe Box E.P. (1996)
- Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001 (2001) (with two new songs) #3 CAN, #38 U.S. Gold
- Everything Acoustic (2003) (internet only)
- As You Like It (2005) (available at 2005 Stratford Festival, later internet only)
- Barenaked For Hanukkah E.P. (2005) (internet only)
- Barenaked on a Stick (2005)
- iTunes Originals - Barenaked Ladies (2006) (internet only)
- Rock Spectacle (1996) #86 U.S.
- Most shows from the Play Everywhere for Everyone tour (2004) (internet only)
- Most shows from the Au Naturale tour (2004) (internet only)
- Most shows from the Barenaked for the Holidays tour (2004) (internet only)
- Vintage Concert: Live at the Bottom Line (recorded in 1994, released in 2005) (internet only)
- Most shows from the Barenaked for the Holidays tour (2005) (internet only)
- All New Revue - Live At The Glenn Gould Studio (2006) (originally available with preorder of Barenaked Ladies Are Me; later internet only)
Songs recorded for compilation albums
- "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" on Kick at the Darkness (1991) (later included on Disc One)
- "Fight the Power" on Coneheads soundtrack (1993)
- "Shoe Box" on Friends soundtrack (1995) (later included on Born On A Pirate Ship)
- "Grim Grinning Ghosts" on Disney's Music From The Park (1996)
- "Get In Line" on King of the Hill soundtrack (1999) (later included on Disc One)
- "When Doves Cry" on Andrew Denton's Musical Challenge Vol. 2, a Prince cover recorded for the Andrew Denton Breakfast Show on Triple M Radio (1999)
- "Green Christmas" on The Grinch soundtrack (2000) (later re-recorded for Barenaked for the Holidays and an iTunes compilation album called A Winter's Night)
- "La La La La Lemon" on For the Kids (2002)
- "One Little Slip" on Chicken Little soundtrack (2005)
- "Be My Yoko Ono", later included on Gordon
- "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" from Bruce Cockburn tribute album Kick at the Darkness
- "Enid" from Gordon
- "Brian Wilson" from Gordon
- "What a Good Boy" from Gordon
- "Be My Yoko Ono" from Gordon
- "If I Had $1000000" from Gordon
- "Fight the Power" from Coneheads Soundtrack
- "Jane" from Maybe You Should Drive
- "Alternative Girlfriend" from Maybe You Should Drive
- "A" from Maybe You Should Drive
- "Shoe Box" from Born On A Pirate Ship / Friends soundtrack
- "If I Had $1000000" from UK version of Born On A Pirate Ship
- "Grim Grinning Ghosts" from Disney's Music From The Park
- "The Old Apartment" from Born On A Pirate Ship
- "Brian Wilson 2000", Rock Spectacle version as b-side
- "Govatsos Shuffle", a live improvisational rap recorded at an August, 1997 concert
- "Brian Wilson" from Rock Spectacle
- "One Week" from Stunt. U.S. Hot 100 #1, U.S. Modern Rock #1
- "It's All Been Done" from Stunt
- "Alcohol" from Stunt
- "Call and Answer" from Stunt / Ed TV soundtrack
- "Get In Line" from King of the Hill soundtrack
- "Pinch Me" from Maroon
- "If I Had $1000000" from Rock Spectacle
- "Too Little Too Late" from Maroon
- "Falling For The First Time" from Maroon
- "Thanks That Was Fun" from Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits
- "It's Only Me" from Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits
- "Another Postcard" from Everything to Everyone
- "Maybe Katie" from Everything For Everyone
- "Testing 1, 2, 3" from Everything to Everyone
- "Celebrity" from Everything to Everyone
- "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
- "Green Christmas" from Barenaked For The Holidays
- "Elf's Lament" from Barenaked For The Holidays
- "One Little Slip" from Chicken Little soundtrack
- "Easy" from Barenaked Ladies Are Me
- "Wind It Up" from Barenaked Ladies Are Me
- Barenaked In America (Not released by the band)
- Too Little Too Late
- Barelaked Nadies
- The Barenaked Truth (Not released by the band)
- ^ a b c d e Robertson, Ed & Frohman, Lorne (Interviewer/Host). (2005). Distinguished Artists [TV-series]. Toronto, Canada: Humber College School of Media Studies.
- ^ a b Moll, George (executive producer). (2000). Behind the Music [TV-series]. New York, NY: VH1.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
- Official BNL site
- Official BNL Audio site (Purchasable downloads)
- Barenaked.net: A Popular Bulletin Board Site for the Band
- BNL Band Blog
- Canadian Music Creators Coalition Website
- Ed and Tyler of Barenaked Ladies 1997 Interview on Sidewalks Entertainment
- Interview: Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies November 16, 2006
- MYSD, home of the chatter
|Jim Creeggan | Kevin Hearn | Steven Page | Ed Robertson | Tyler Stewart
|Andy Creeggan (former member) | Stephen Duffy (writing partner) | Chris Brown (temporary member)
|Early albums: Buck Naked | Barenaked Lunch ("The Pink Tape") | Barenaked Ladies ("The Yellow Tape") | Variety Recordings: Barenaked Ladies
|Main albums: Gordon | Maybe You Should Drive | Born on a Pirate Ship | Rock Spectacle | Stunt | Maroon | Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001 | Everything to Everyone | Barenaked for the Holidays | Barenaked Ladies Are Me
|Primary Singles: Be My Yoko Ono | Enid | What A Good Boy | Brian Wilson | If I Had $1000000 | Jane | Alternative Girlfriend | Shoe Box | The Old Apartment | One Week | It's All Been Done | Call and Answer | Get In Line | Pinch Me | Too Little Too Late | Falling For The First Time | Thanks That Was Fun | Another Postcard | Testing 1,2,3 | For You | One Little Slip | Easy | Wind It Up
|DVDs: Barenaked in America | Barelaked Nadies
|The Brothers Creeggan | Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle | The Vanity Project
Categories: Musical groups established in 1988 | Fellows of the Royal Conservatory of Music | Alternative musical groups | 1990s music groups | 2000s music groups | Canadian bloggers | Canadian buskers | Canadian folk rock groups | Toronto musical groups | Musical groups with siblings