By Ryan O’Malley | For Weekender

Barenaked Ladies set to perform at Bethel Woods

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The Barenaked Ladies will perform June 17 at Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts in Bethel, New York.
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    Playful lyrics, catchy pop music, and harmonies that sound almost too good. It’s a combination that serve the Barenaked Ladies well, and helped them explode into the American Top 40 scene in the ’90s with songs like “The Old Apartment,” “Brian Wilson,” and “One Week.”

    Two decades later, the now quartet – guitarist Ed Robertson, bassist Jim Creeggan, multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hearn and drummer Tyler Stewart – has carried on its legacy with nearly a dozen new studio albums, a new live album “BNL Rocks Red Rocks,” and yearly touring under the moniker “Last Summer on Earth Tour,” which will hit Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts June 17.

    We caught up with Stewart to talk about the current tour, what’s in store for the band’s future, and, the live shows that introduced America to one of Canada’s most beloved groups.

    Weekender: The catalogue for BNL is enormous. How do you guys put together a set list after 25 years?

    Tyler Stewart: We have over 300 songs to choose from right now, which is an amazing number to choose from. We try to mix it up and keep it fresh for us, but also we play the hits because people come to a Barenaked Ladies show expecting to hear the hits like ‘One Week,’ ‘If I Had $1,000,000,’ and ‘Pinch Me.’ We still definitely play the hits, but we also sprinkle in songs from different segments of our 25 year career. I look forward to the show every night because there’s always something different – either a new song we do at soundcheck, or maybe try to dust off some of the other hidden gems from our career as well.

    W: Even though you’re only a few shows in, how has the current tour been?

    TS: “The tour and reception have been great so far. The two opening acts (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Howard Jones) are a variable jukebox of songs from our lives. It’s amazing; the shows have been high energy and fun. We’re all having a great time.”

    W: Your current tour starts off with you guys doing a short acoustic set, which might surprise some new fans who are used to seeing a full-blown rock show from the band.

    TS: “Yeah. We really stripped it down a little bit, and we’re coming right to the front of the stage. It’s kind of nice to hear some acoustic instruments right after the wall of synthesized funkiness that happens earlier on in the evening. It’s been going over very well.”

    W: Your shows are well-known for being crowd interactive. In the late ’90s, during “If I Had $1,000,000” crowd members would throw boxes of Kraft Dinner at the band after the second chorus. Has that tradition carried over?

    TS: That’s done with now, thank goodness. Things got a little wild there for a bit … I’ve been hit in parts of my body that I’d rather not be hit in with hard boxes of macaroni and cheese. Every night when that part came around in a million dollars, our lighting guy would bring the lights up to full so we could see what was being hurled towards us. Those were crazy days. They’re over. Please don’t start them again, people of Bethel. We beg you: please don’t throw food at us.

    W: Since 2007, the band has burst back into the mainstream with the theme song for ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ I’ve read that getting the song recorded was a bit difficult.

    TS: Honestly, it was all about our recording schedule. It was all about having time off in the summer and I’d go spend time with my family. At that time we were pretty busy in 2007 or so. I didn’t want to come back into the studio to record the song from my country place. Ed said ‘come on, man. The song is good, the show is good, and the producers are good,’ which is actually very true. I said ‘OK, Ed. But this better be the next freaking ‘Seinfeld.” Here we are 10 seasons in, and it’s bigger than ‘Seinfeld,’ for God’s sake … I’m very fortunate that I was able to move my sorry ass from my cottage for the day and record a slamming track.

    W: Since Steven Page’s departure, you’ve become a more prominent vocalist with the band. How have you enjoyed singing lead on some songs like the fan favorite “Alcohol”?

    TS: I love it, man. I’m singing a lot more in general – a lot more backups. I’ve really, really enjoyed it and I feel more engaged in the show. I think for all of us since 2009, we’ve all had to step up our game and contribute a little more to the band. I think that’s been a really positive thing for everyone. I think we’ve all taken more ownership of the whole thing, and that makes things more healthy day to day, and for the future.

    W: Speaking of the future, Ed reportedly has a number of songs together for a new album. Can you tell us anything about it?

    TS: Ed’s got a bunch of songs on the go. Kevin has a lot of songs on the go, and I’m sure Jim does as well. We’ll be trying to get into the studio, I think, towards the end of this year. Hopefully we’ll have something new out in 2017, and hitting the road and rocking out again.

    W: How would you describe the current tour for the fans who are coming to see the band?

    TS: Imagine the most delicious dinner you’ve ever had. Followed by an incredible dessert, a back rub, and then the most mind-blowing sex you’ve ever had. That’s what Barenaked Ladies shows are like.

    If you go:

    What: Barenaked Ladies “Last Summer on Earth Tour” with O.M.D. and Howard Jones

    When: 7 p.m., Friday, June 17

    Where: Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts, Bethel, New York

    More info: visit www.barenakedladies.com

    Ryan O’Malley is a music writer and photographer who has contributed to the Weekender since 2007.

    By Ryan O’Malley | For Weekender

    The Barenaked Ladies will perform June 17 at Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts in Bethel, New York.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_bnl1-1.jpgThe Barenaked Ladies will perform June 17 at Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts in Bethel, New York. BNL Facebook page

    Ryan O’Malley is a music writer and photographer who has contributed to the Weekender since 2007.

    If you go:

    What: Barenaked Ladies “Last Summer on Earth Tour” with O.M.D. and Howard Jones

    When: 7 p.m., Friday, June 17

    Where: Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts, Bethel, New York

    More info: visit www.barenakedladies.com