Barenaked Dads Exposed

By  on March 05, 2008


When you think about the family lives of the Barenaked Ladies, you probably think the most challenging part of parenting would be finding time at home. We thought that, too. We were, however, happily surprised to learn that Steve, Ed, Kevin, Jim and Tyler all have not only found the time to be involved parents, but they know what their kids are reading, watching and ‘into’ at any given moment; they chauffeur their kids to soccer, volleyball, music lessons and school. Their kids, too, are involved in their dads’ lives; they come on tour and talk to them every day. These dads have found the balance all parents seek.

STEVEN PAGE: vocals, guitar
DAD TO: Isaac 11, Benjamin 9, Jonah 7
ED ROBERTSON: vocals, guitar
DAD TO: Hannah 12, Lyle 8, Arden, 5
JIM CREEGGAN: bass, stringed instruments and vocals
DAD TO: Finn, 3 and a new daughter, Chloe
TYLER STEWART: drums, backing vocals.
DAD TO: Mili, 9, Hazel, 7
KEVIN HEARN: keyboards, guitar and vocals
DAD TO: Havana, 4

ParentsCanada: Hardest part of being a ‘Barenaked dad’? Is it being on the road?
ED: No, no, it’s not being away. Although it’s hard, it’s always been our reality. And as much as we’re away, we’re home. I think I spend way more time with my kids than most dads. Because when I’m home, I’m really home – 24/7 – I do all the driving back and forth to school, you know, and to all their various programs. It’s always been important to me to feel like a part of the house even when I’m not there.
JIM: I often use my time away from my kids to research new things to expose them to. That might mean checking event calendars for activities that they could go to, with or without me. I also try to think of books or music that might turn them on to something new. Once when I was on tour and having a difficult time being away from my son, a friend told me that it was a gift to my family that I can go away and come back with new experiences to share.

PC:
What’s the percentage of time that you’re away from home?
KEVIN: Well, it’s less than it used to be. We used to be away half of the year, now we try to go only out for three to four weeks at a time and then home.

PC:
What surprised you the most about becoming a dad?
STEVE: That what everyone says is true; it changes you completely. And that kids have so much to teach you, too. I remember once, putting my kids in the car when they were really little, and I saw a group of teenagers approach me and recognize me. I didn’t say anything, but just quickly buckled my kids into their car seats and sped off. My oldest son said as we drove away, “They just like your music, Dad.” He was six.
JIM: That kids aren’t helpless; that they have an incredible will to live.

PC:
Do you take your kids on tour with you?
TYLER: Our kids loved being on the tour bus. They liked the idea of the little bunk that was their own. They liked the small bathroom and all that. Kind of like when the first time a rock band gets on a tour bus and they think, “Oh, this is great,” and then they live on it for 20 years and then they hate it. The novelty of the tour bus was always exciting. The kids wouldn’t even want to watch the show; they stayed on the bus to watch a video or build a fort in their bunk.
ED: We make the best of it and just enjoy the time together.
KEVIN: We just came back from our ‘Ships and Dip’ cruise, but my four-year-old daughter Havana, unfortunately, didn’t get to come this time. (Kevin proudly shows us a picture of his beautiful daughter he keeps on his phone).

PC:
How do you stay in touch with your families?
TYLER: We stay connected to our families via videophone and cell phone
and video conferencing online. I can hold the laptop up to the grey, concrete walls of the hockey arena change room in the middle of nowhere and my kids can see how glamorous my life really is.

PC:
Do you ever see any of your own character flaws in your kids?
TYLER: Impatience. Definitely. Instant gratification. I see in them their inherent need to race through situations. It’s easier, sometimes, to get upset at them for the behaviour you recognize as your own flaws. It’s almost like I’m trying to correct my mistakes through my children…that is WRONG, I know that of course… but, oh, it happens.
STEVE: I think the times I get the most frustrated with my kids is when I recognize in them the things that I did; the mistakes I made. Such as my tendency to beat myself up over things due to my unrealistic perfectionism. I want them to be easier on themselves that I was.

PC:
Tell us about your soon-to-be-released kids’ CD.
STEVE: It’s called ‘Snacktime’, and will be released just before Mother’s Day, May 6th. We have about 23 songs on it – a lot of shorter songs.
ED: We took inspiration from all of the great kids’ music. They Might be Giants. Burl Ives. The classics.
STEVE: Growing up I loved Schoolhouse Rock and Sesame Street stuff – Harry Nilsson. That was all good stuff.
JIM: Among the songs are songs called, ‘Popcorn’, ‘Food Party’, ‘Allergies’, ‘Humongous Tree’ and ‘Polywog in a Bog’.

PC: Is there a difference writing for kids than writing for adults?
ED: I think there are subjects kids relate to. My son is three, so animals are a big part of his world. Animals – relating their own character traits through animals. And musically, I think it frees you up a bit to explore. We allowed ourselves some things we wouldn’t necessarily have done on a Barenaked Ladies’ record. The music is straight ahead… moments where we are referencing styles more literally.
STEVE: There’s more pastiche on this record. If we came up with those things for a regular record we would have stopped ourselves. For instance, we’d often say, “Oh, that’s too much like a Spaghetti Western sound,” where with the kids’ record we said, “Hey, let’s make it sound like Spaghetti Western music!”
ED: It was all about making it entertaining for kids.
STEVE: And tolerable for parents.

PC:
Are you going to do a kids’ tour?
STEVE: I don’t think so… I mean those Wiggles guys didn’t find it profitable, now did they? (laughter)

PC:
What is the most important lesson you want to give your kids?
STEVE: That kindness, compassion and an open heart are more important than any other marker of success. To teach them that no one else will live their lives for them.
TYLER: I think the most important lesson is to be compassionate to others. Compassion and respect for other people and for yourself. You need to let kids know that their decisions matter. There’s no rulebook or requirements for parenting. We all learn on our feet. One of the biggest things I had to come to terms with is to not be afraid to make mistakes, and that making
mistakes is ok. It’s only through compassion and forgiveness that mistakes get erased. You can learn and move on. PC

March 05, 2008

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