Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson & Steven Page Talk 'Surreal' Canadian Music Hall of Fame Induction

Matt Barnes
Barenaked Ladies

Just a hunch, but at some point in their 30-year history, Barenaked Ladies may have poked some irreverent fun at some of the members of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame -- which BNL themselves will be joining when they're inducted during the Juno Awards on Sunday in Vancouver.

"Now we're one of those guys," co-founder Steven Page, who left BNL somewhat acrimoniously in 2009 but will reunite to perform with the group at the ceremony, tells Billboard. "But I would hope we were always pretty polite with people. We might have made fun of someone, but they always had our respect and our admiration, even if it wasn't our favorite music."

Ed Robertson, who began playing with Page during the fall of 1988, adds, "The stuff we do, even the stuff that we do kind of satirically, is out of admiration. You're huge fans of music, and all kinds of music. The list of people who are in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame is pretty frickin' stellar, y'know?"

The hall of fame induction -- which will also include members Jim Creeggan, Tyler Stewart and Kevin Hearn, while original keyboardist Andy Creeggan will join for the performance -- will pay tribute to BNL's 16-album career, including hits such as "If I Had $100000," "Brian Wilson," "One Week," "Pinch Me" and more and netting the group eight Junos and two Billboard Music Awards. As they prepared to jet to Vancouver for rehearsals and the show, Robertson and Page spoke with Billboard, separately, about the honor and the reunion.

How are you feeling about the induction?

Robertson: It was very surreal for a couple of days, honestly. It took a couple of days to sink in for me -- I guess I was in a bit of shock or something. Then the first thing I did was Google the list of past inductees, and I went, "Holy shit!" It's not a very big list and we're going on it, and it is the list of my actual heroes and influences. So on one hand, it feels totally bizarre, and on the other hand, I look back at this incredible career we've had and it makes some sense to me."

Page: For the Canadian music industry it's, I guess, welcoming us to the club of some of these pretty amazing musicians and kind of recognition of 30 years of things that we did together as Barenaked Ladies. It's pretty overwhelming, in a way. And moving too.

You're performing together again too. Were there things that had to be said or gotten past in order to make that happen?

Robertson: [Steven] was in the band for 20 years, and we wanted Andy to be a part of it too. Steven and I did a ton of great work together. The band did a ton of great work during those first 20 years. I'm also super proud of the way the four of us have carried on. It doesn't make me less proud of the first 20 years, or less connected to it. We go out every night and we play those songs still. It's a legacy that I'm deeply, deeply connected to and proud of.

Page: I think it came pretty gradually. I think we're all at a place now where we've had almost 10-year careers without each other. It makes it, I think, that much easier to see each other and be excited for what we did together. I knew what I had to do, which was go out and show myself as well as the audiences what I'm capable of and what I brought to the band, and once you do that and get positive feedback you can return to places and people, which makes it easier to give the past its due. I don't know what I'm going to feel when I'm actually onstage there, but I'm just looking forward to seeing the guys.

Robertson: The bottom line is it's an incredible thing, an incredible honor we're being inducted into the hall of fame. Everyone who's gonna be there deserves to be there. The weekend is a celebration. There are things that are difficult about the relationship, but none of them matter in the scheme of this induction and what people's connection to the music is. Anything that'll be difficult about it is small and personal and not that important in the grand scheme of things. We've all been very open and communicative with each other about how it needs to be. It's been a good dialogue.

What's the prospect of playing together like?

Page: I think it's gonna be fun. It's gonna be a good time. Those guys haven't stopped playing together, so I think it'll maybe be odd and hopefully fun for them as well to put me back in the mix for a couple of songs. And for me it'll be a blast. We're gonna do a couple songs I haven't done for a long time, so that'll be a fun thing We'll find out whether I actually know the words any more.

Robertson: At this point it's super secret. But I guarantee you it will be some of the band's most popular songs. We're not gonna go out there and play deep album cuts. But I'm glad we're performing; At the end of the day, that's what we do.

Any chance that this could lead to doing more together again?

Page: I really don't know. If it's a possibility, that could be a lot of fun, too. I don't see it being a permanent change. I'm not gonna be rejoining the band. But if there are more opportunities to play together, if this goes well and everybody's happy with it, I'd be up for that as well.

Geddy Lee is inducting you. How cool is that?

Robertson: Oh man, for me that's like an actual dream come true. I reached out to Geddy and said, 'Hey, listen, this is an actual, literal teenage dream, but I am an adult now so I understand if you can't make this work.' And he's just been awesome. So he's going to do the induction, which is beyond a thrill to me. There's so much to look forward to -- we're gonna play, Geddy's doing the induction. It's a total dream weekend.

After the Junos, Barenaked Ladies -- still promoting 2017 album Fake Nudes -- begin a U.K. tour April 16 in Glasgow, while its Last Summer on Earth North American Tour with Better Than Ezra and KT Tunstall starts June 1 in Prior Lake, Minn.

Page will release Discipline, his follow-up to 2016's Heal Thyself Pt. 1, in June and plans tour the U.K. and North America in the fall. He's also working on a theater musical, Here's What It Takes, for the Stratford Festival with Canadian playwright and actor Daniel MacIvor. 


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