Listen to the Barenaked Ladies' New Album 'Silverball': Exclusive Premiere

Matt Barnes
Barenaked Ladies

Ed Robertson says making Barenaked Ladies's new album Silverball was "a pleasure through and through" -- something he hasn't felt in quite a few years.

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"I feel like things were kind of sliding off the rails for along time," Robertson tells Billboard. That began with co-founder Steven Page's tense waning days with the group before his departure in 2009. "I think everyone was kind of detaching from the band because there was a lot of negativity around. The following year's All In Good Time, BNL's first as a quartet, "was a tough record to make and came with a lot of new pressure," according to Robertson, while 2013's Grinning Streak "was like, 'OK, we proved we can do this. No we have to do it again,' and it had all kinds of weird pressure and anxiety with it." 

But not so on Silverball, which comes out June 2 and is premiering exclusively below. "Somewhere before I even started writing this record I thought, 'What have I got to complain about or stress about? Let's just enjoy it!'" Robertson says.

That attitude extended to Robertson's songwriting. "Every time in the past I've kinda gotten a little stressed out before writing -- 'What am I gonna write about? Are the songs gonna come? Are they going to be any good?' I always have this little struggle like I'm sure a lot of artists do," he explains. "This time I thought, 'I'm not gonna stress about it. I know how to write. I'm looking forward to making a record.'" A trip to his cottage in northern Ontario, during which he expected to come up with "ideas for three or four songs" just to get things started wound up yielding 19 songs, which he promptly sent to the rest of the band. "I said, 'I either just wrote the same song 19 times or we're well on our way to a new record here.' And immediately I got feedback from the other guys, 'Holy shit! These songs are awesome! This is gonna be great!' They were all super positive, and I think it set the tone for the record that everybody was excited and we all kinda hit the ground running a little bit. Then Kev (Hearn) and Jim (Creeggan) both brought great songs, too, so it was a really good process."

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Recording Silverball with producer Gavin Brown, who also did Grinning Streak, went "insanely quickly" according to Robertson. "The first day of recording, by lunchtime, we already had a bed track done," he recalls. "On any other recording session you're still tightening mic stands and tuning drums by that time of the day. We'd already finished a track and were moving on to the next one. It was really smooth and easy."

BNL takes Silverball to the road on June 5, when the group starts its Last Summer On Earth Tour with the Violent Femmes and Men At Work's Colin Hay on June 5 in Columbus, Ohio. The trek wraps July 25 in Redmond, Wash., with a nine-date Canadian run beginning Oct. 19 in Prince George, B.C. "We spent a week rehearsing with the new material, and it's really fun. There's a lot of energy on this new record," Robertson notes. "Touring the last record was a lot of fun; we played seven tracks off that record nightly. That gave us confidence to be like, 'OK, as long as we pepper the set with the songs people want to hear, we can really stretch out and play a lot of new material. That to me is the best of both world; people coming aren't gonna say, 'Oh shit, they didn't play 'If I Had $1000000' or 'Pinch Me' or 'One Week,' 'cause we're gonna play those songs. But we have some leeway to focus on the trajectory of our career and all our new material. Maybe in the past we felt like we ad to make sure we do five songs off of Stunt, because it's our biggest record. Now I feel like, 'Let's play the hits and let's move on...'"

 


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