No longer ‘Barenaked,’ singer Steven Page gets serious

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Steven Page’s previous group, Barenaked Ladies, was known for its tuneful whimsy—which is best exemplified in songs such as “ If I Had $1,000,000” and “One Week.”

But Page, who left the group in 2009, noted the band had its share of more serious songs.

As a solo artist, Page—who is coming to Old Saybrook on Sept. 30— said that serious approach has taken a greater role in his songwriting.

The evolution to being more pointed and more political—as heard in songs such “White Noise” from his album “Discipline: Heal Thyself, Pt. 2”—is a result of Page’s own evolution.

“I’ve developed more confidence as a writer, player, producer,” said Page, calling from his home in Syracuse, N.Y. “I can speak in my own voice.”

“White Noise,” which is the first single off the new album, is a response to the violence in Charlottesville when white nationalists and counter-protesters clashed.

“That affected me deeply,” said Page.

Although Page is interested in expressing his opinions through music, he is not interested in telling people how to think. “I have no desire to be didactic with my message.”

On the new album, the arrangements and melodies are still pop in their approach rather than stark and stern.

For his approach to being more pointed in his music but still pop, Page said he looks to British singer songwriter Billy Bragg (“A New England”) for inspiration. “What’s so amazing about his music was it was political… but it also was so personal.” Page said Bragg added a sense of tenderness and humanity to his political message. It’s something Page tries to do now as well.

Page also said The Clash, Elvis Costello, and XTC also serve as templates for his current approach. All three acts injected political elements into their song writing. But behind the message, there was still some tuneful rock and roll.

Although Page is now a solo artist, he said he has learned solo doesn’t mean going it alone. Even now, he works in collaboration with his current backing band. He listens to their suggestions and acknowledges their input into the creative process.

Some of Page’s other “solo” efforts were also, in the end, collaborative. Since leaving BNL, Page has written musical scores for Shakespearean plays at the Stratford Festival in Canada. But when he writes, he realizes the music is in service to something bigger than just him.

“It’s taught me a lot of the possibility of music and it’s not always about putting me in the spotlight.”

However, going solo still has allowed him to grow. Being a solo artist means he has the confidence to try new things. When you are in a band, often times you are relegated to a certain role within the collective, he said.

For fans coming out to Old Saybrook on Sunday, Page said his set list will include his new music from “Discipline: Heal Thyself Pt. 2”— but it also will reach back as far as the first Barenaked Ladies first album. “It’s all part of who I am and where I come from,” said Page.

At The Kate, Page will be accompanied by Craig Northey (formerly of The Odds) on guitar and Kevin Fox on cello. The combination, he said, gives the older material a new freshness. But the arrangements of the trio also keep the spirit of the old songs intact.

Steven Page will perform at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main St., Old Saybrook on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.

For more information, go to www. KatherineHepburnTheater.org or www.StevenPage.com

Steven Page performs at The Kate in Old Saybrook Sunday.
( David Bergman
www.DavidBergman.net)

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