Barenaked Ladies Biography
They are best known for their hit singles, "One Week", "The Old Apartment", "It's All Been Done", "Pinch Me", "If I Had $1000000", "Brian Wilson" and the theme song for the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. They are known for their light-hearted, comedic performance style and humorous banter between songs: improvised raps/songs are staples at most concerts. They have won multiple Juno Awards and have been nominated for Grammy Awards. Original keyboardist Andy Creeggan departed in 1995, followed by founding member Steven Page in 2009. The group has sold over 15 million records including albums and singles.
Barenaked Ladies began as the duo of Ed Robertson and Steven Page. The two went to school together since Robertson was in grade four (Page was a grade ahead) at Churchill Heights Public School, but were not friends until they met each other at a Harvey's restaurant following a Peter Gabriel concert. Each was pleased to find that the other liked Gabriel; they began talking and found they had many of the same tastes. The two became friends, and bonded further when they were both counselors at Scarborough Music Camp located in McKellar, Ontario, Canada. They would play songs together, and Steve was impressed by Ed's ability to harmonize.
When Page had an extra ticket to a Bob Dylan concert at Exhibition Stadium, he asked Robertson to join him. Bored by the show, 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 fictional 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 Page and asked if he wanted to do the gig; Page reportedly could not believe Robertson had given that name. They arranged three rehearsals and missed them all.[he two 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; they 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.
Page and Robertson continued performing and also began writing songs together. The band's first tape, Buck Naked (1989), was recorded on a four-track recorder in basements and bedrooms. The pair became followers of comedy group Corky and the Juice Pigs, to whom they give credit for exposing them to the idea of comedic stage presence. Page and Robertson presented the group with their tape, and were invited to open for the Juice Pigs on their cross-Canada tour. One night, in Toronto, Page and Robertson invited their friends, brothers Andy Creeggan (percussion) and Jim Creeggan (bass), whom they knew from music camp, to play with them at a Christmas time club show. Barenaked Lunch (a.k.a. The Pink Tape) was released in 1990, and featured the two new band members. The tape had problems, however, as it was mastered incorrectly and played too fast.
After six months, Andy Creeggan went on a student exchange trip to South America, leaving the band without a percussionist. While playing at a buskers' festival in Waterloo, Ontario in the summer of 1990, they met drummer Tyler Stewart, who took over the position. While Creeggan 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 in Toronto, and performed "Be My Yoko Ono". The clip quickly became popular with viewers, and noticeably increased the band's fanbase. Andy Creeggan returned in early 1991 to find that Stewart had taken over the percussion role. This caused some concern for him, and he then moved more toward keyboards; though he still played percussion (usually congas) on some songs. Soon after, the band embarked upon their first full tour of Canada.
The full band's first commercial release was 1991's The 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 snowball based simply on word of mouth and their live shows.
During this era, the band also garnered radio airplay with a live cover of Dean Friedman's "I'm in Love with a McDonald's Girl", which included a rap break featuring lyrics from Beastie Boys' "Hey Ladies". Another major break for the band in 1991 came in November of that year when 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.
Sales of The Yellow Tape were jump-started when the band was taken off the bill for the 1991 New Year's 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 decision was further affirmed by city councillor Chris Korwin-Kuczynski. 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 targeted Rowlands even though she had not been directly involved in the decision to remove the band from the concert, but in fact had been out of town at the time. The following week, sales of the Yellow Tape exploded — by February 1992, it was outselling even Michael Jackson's Dangerous, Genesis' We Can't Dance and U2's Achtung Baby in some downtown Toronto record stores. They received enough publicity from the incident that MuchMusic offered them its second-ever Intimate and Interactive special on January 17. The tape eventually became the first ever indie release to achieve platinum status (100,000 copies) in Canada.
By the end of February, Toronto City Council revised its rules for event bookings at Nathan Phillips Square in the hopes of avoiding another similar controversy. The City Hall story has followed the band ever since; Robertson credits the scale of the story to it being a slow news week.
The band released a new greatest hits album, Hits from Yesterday & the Day Before, through Rhino Entertainment (a division of their former parent label, Warner Music Group) on September 27, 2011. Another album, Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before, containing rarities and never-before-heard songs, was planned to be released later in 2011 but was released May 8, 2012.
BNL was commissioned to compose the original score for a musical based on National Lampoon's Animal House. The project was announced in early 2012. However, by mid-2013, the band had been dropped from the production.
The band went back into the studio in May 2012 to record a single, "Boomerang". The session was produced by Gavin Brown. The band indicated plans for "Boomerang" to be released as a single during the summer of 2012 in conjunction with their Last Summer On Earth tour on which the song was performed nightly. The single was also performed on the late 2012 Symphony Barenaked Tour but remained unreleased. The band had mentioned the possibility of abandoning the album concept and releasing only singles and EPs, in late January 2013, Ed Robertson announced that the band was returning to the studio that month to record a full album. The band went into the studio in February and March 2013 to work on the album which was released as Grinning Streak on June 4, 2013. The band signed with Vanguard Records for the release, their first label album of originals since going independent following 2003's Everything to Everyone. "Boomerang" was held back for the album, and the single was announced for release on March 26, 2013.
On October 8, 2013, Barenaked Ladies released a music video for their single "Odds Are", produced by Rooster Teeth Productions.
The band recently finished a tour of Canada, the US, and UK in support of the new album.
On July 1, the band released The Long Weekend E.P. in Canada, which includes acoustic versions of "Odds Are", "Smile" and "Blame It On Me", as well as a live version of "Did I Say That Out Loud?". In the US, a digital deluxe edition of Grinning Streak was released, containing the three acoustic songs. The live version of "Did I Say That Out Loud?", however, was left off the US version.
On July 17, 2014, Barenaked Ladies released a music video for their single "Did I Say That Out Loud?", produced again by Rooster Teeth Productions.
On November 7, 2014, Barenaked Ladies released a new song titled "Our Blue Dot", written for the David Suzuki Foundation and the Blue Dot Tour.
On December 14, 2014, it was announced that BNL were in the studio working on a new album. The band's 12th studio album, Silverball, was formally announced on April 7, 2015. It is set to be released June 2, 2015, three days before the band kicks off its Last Summer on Earth 2015 tour with Violent Femmes and Colin Hay.
The lead single from the album, "Say What You Want", was released on April 28, 2015. On May 19, 2015, Barenaked Ladies released a music video for their single "Say What You Want", produced again by Rooster Teeth Productions.