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Gig Preview: Barenaked Ladies at National Arts Centre – 11.29.17

By Terry Steeves on November 27, 2017

Canada’s beloved ambassadors of fun the Barenaked Ladies, who just finished their 27-date Canada 1 Five 0 tour, have started another tour in support of their 15th studio album, Fake Nudes, released November 17. The show on this tour will highlight some of their exciting new material, along with a selection of others from their vast library, and of course some essential favourites. BNL will be making their way east from Vancouver and will arrive at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Wednesday November 29.

BNL headed once again to Toronto’s Noble Street Studios to record Fake Nudes with producer Gavin Brown who lets the boys unleash their artistic freedom, thereby really capturing the band‘s essence. There’s the ode to feeling blue Canadian-style with their catchy single “Canada Dry,” the bouncy infectious rhythm of “Bringing It Home,” the straight up rocking grooves of both “20/20 Hindsight,” and my personal fave, “We Took The Night.” The optimistic energy of “Looking Up” includes a whimsical video that features a hairier version of the four trapped on a deserted island.

The rest of the album offers something that is still very much BNL, yet with an experimental departure into different rhythms, songwriting patterns, poetic imagery, and a gentle-to-heavy use of synthetic embellishments, while still maintaining an organic flavour. The ambient dreaminess of songs “Sunshine,” “Navigate,” and “Flying Dreams,” at one moment will sweep you away with its almost psychedelic tones, while “Bag Of Bones” takes a more exploratory surge over the edge. Apt613 catches up with keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Kevin Hearn to talk about the new album:

“We don’t want to make the same record over and over again, and we just genuinely wanted to have fun. Going into the studio is really in itself like another instrument. We really enjoyed just turning these songs into something sometimes different, and sometimes not… for example, “Canada Dry” goes back to early BNL. I wrote 6 songs on the album, and co-wrote 3 with Ed (Robertson). I think it makes the record a bit different and gives it a cool creative injection into the band’s fabric. That psychedelic stuff is right up my alley. I’ve always loved the sound of organic music, but I’m also a big fan of electronic music and I love marrying the two in a tasteful way. It will be a lot to do, but I’ll be bringing my synthesizers to the live show.”

Along with Hearn’s higher presence on this album, there are a number of special guests including Jim Cuddy, Alan Doyle, throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Michael Ray (Sun Ra Arkestra), and even Kevin’s dad, Patrick Hearn, who delivers some robust spoken word at the end of the “Dusty Rooms” track. Hearns talks to Apt613 more about his dad’s involvement and the secret to the band’s longevity, which hits 30 years in 2018:

“Don’t get me thinking too hard about it (laughs), but seriously, we enjoy having fun, exploring new ideas, being open to reinventing things and growing. I think that applies to both the creative process in the studio and live. We get along, we make each other laugh. Sure we have disagreements sometimes but we’ve always stressed that open communication is important, talking through issues, and we’ve always been able to work it out. It’s like a family, which extends to our crew too. Our core crew have been with us for 25 years. And now my dad’s with us – he’s driving the bus (laughs). Well not really – although he’d like to drive the bus. While my dad was in the studio with us, we recorded all of the songs’ lyrics in his spoken word. We’re gonna release that as a special thing sometime down the road.”

Just when William Shatner thought he had the Canadian spoken word market cornered…


Tickets to the November 29 show are available online from the National Arts Centre from $63. For more information on the Barenaked Ladies new album Fake Nudes, please visit, www.barenakedladies.com.