By Chris Moore:
In a post Wednesday on the official Barenaked Ladies website (titled simply as “A Message from Barenaked Ladies”), it was announced that Steven Page has officially left the band after two decades of writing, recording, and performing together with his bandmates. The first paragraph of the message is as follows:
“By mutual agreement, Steven Page will be parting company with the remaining members of Barenaked Ladies. Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, and Tyler Stewart will continue recording and touring together as Barenaked Ladies. Steven Page will pursue solo projects including theatrical opportunities while the band enters the studio in April 2009, and hits the road in the fall.”
For a band that is world-renowned for their candor and lightheartedness, this is quite the sanitized message! It feels very formal, politic, and purposeful — for instance, the remaining band members are arranged alphabetically. It seems that the natural response has been to wonder how much of this departure was precipitated by Page’s arrest for drug-related charges in July. According to the Toronto branch of the AP, Ed Robertson has admitted that it was a “huge event” in their lives, but that Page’s departure “isn’t about that.”
While it isn’t entirely clear what it is about, his split from the band comes at a sad time, just as they were about to go back into the studio to release their first album since BnL turned twenty. Fortunately for Barenaked Ladies fans, the AP also reported that the remaining members of the band — Ed, Kevin, Jim, and Tyler — will indeed be back in the studio in April to work on a new record. As for Steven Page? “Solo projects including theatrical opportunities.”
It stands to be noted that the Barenaked Ladies are one of — if not the most — universally loved band around here at the Laptop Sessions, as if this wasn’t already made obvious by the fact that Jim, Chris, Mike, Becky, and Cliff have all participated in BnL cover song music videos over the past couple years — more than any other covered artist! (This record may be tied with the Beach Boys, but I’ll have to check…)
I was struck this morning by just how many of my favorite bands have been split by solo projects recently. All my favorite nineties bands, to be certain — Rob Thomas first went the way of the solo artist, promising that Matchbox Twenty had not officially broken up and will return to the studio (although Thomas worked in 2008 on his second solo album, there are rumors of a 2009 Matchbox Twenty release!).
Rivers Cuomo released his home recordings under his name, but has continued to write, record, and perform with Weezer.
One by one, personnel change after departure, Jakob Dylan (although there still is officially a Wallflowers band) struck out on his own last year with his debut album Seeing Things. Apparently Rami Jaffee (the only other original original member aside from Dylan) has still interacted with the band, as evidenced by the recent Rusty Truck performance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, which featured both Jaffee and longtime Wallflowers bassist Greg Richling. Jimmy Kimmel mentioned that Dylan had appeared on the Rusty Truck studio recording. So, they’re still playing together, just not in the Wallflowers…
Over the past few years, other bands have been interrupted by solo projects. Those projects include this year’s Dan Auerbach album (he’s one half of the blues rock group the Black Keys), as well as last year’s second Raconteurs CD (staffed by, among others, Jack White of the White Stripes). While these projects have not broken up their main bands, the formation of Jack’s Mannequin in 2004 by Andrew McMahon led to his other band (Something Corporate) to officially go “on hiatus.”
So, interstingly enough, at a time when many people are clinging to their current jobs during a time of economic distress, popular musicians continue to branch out and make music on their own, either separating permanently or temporarily from their bands to work independently.
As Ed Robertson stated in the official message on the BnL website, “It’s the start of a new chapter for all of us. Here’s to the future!”