It’s safe to say that most of us have at least heard of the show The Big Bang Theory. Well, meet the masterminds behind the catchy theme song: Barenaked Ladies. Granted, they were popular way before they were asked to compose for the popular show. In fact, the producers of the hit program were pretty big fans of the Canadian band. And, of course, since the band’s creation, Barenaked Ladies have been nominated for over a dozen music awards—and have won 11 of those.

Now it’s our turn to catch these quirky dudes live and in action. The Barenaked Ladies are back on tour for the summer and headed our way. I was lucky enough to talk to the band’s drummer and vocalist, Tyler Stewart, about the group’s history, touring life, and what they may have up their sleeves for the future.

How’ve you been prepping for the tour?

            Well, I’ve been meditating daily, going to a sweat lodge, and consulting the spiritual ancestors of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Uh, actually, other than that, we’ve been rehearsing, getting together a new show… It’s also that busy time of year where things are wrapping up. My two older daughters are getting ready to finish out their respective ninth and eleventh grade years and my youngest daughter, who’s five, has got a spring concert on Friday, so that should be exciting. I’m looking forward to that. So I’m wrapping things up on the domestic side before I go away for the next two months. And just trying to stay healthy and getting ready for this rock ‘n’ roll, fist pumping extravaganza we’ve got going on.

Perfect! And I saw you’re releasing a record—will that kind of construct your setlist for the tour?

            Ah, not really. Some of the songs, you know, we’ll definitely play ‘cause they’re staples. I think what we try to do is switch the set up a little but each night. Our keyboard player seems to be a systems analyst-slash-mathematical genius because he came up with a rotating schedule to how to fit these songs in. We can fit in a lot more songs each night.

Yeah, and it must keep you guys from falling into autopilot?

            That’s correct. The dreaded autopilot! But autopilot makes things so much easier. I can’t wait for the self-driving car. Then you’ll have a self-drumming drummer. I won’t even have to think about it. My arms’ll do just what I tell ‘em. Oh wait—that’s what I do now (laughs).

(Laughs) Well, what’s your favorite thing about touring?

            It’s probably the shows every night. Certainly isn’t the constant travel every night and eating weird food. It’s definitely the shows. Sometimes it’s the audiences, too. Like, in Canada, the audiences are sometimes more reserved. Well—not the hometown shows. They’re ready to rock. But people here have been tailgating and people are ready for a good time here in the U.S. Honestly, New York City is one of the best places to have off. It’s one of the best places to play, too. I’m always excited about playing in New York.

And culturally speaking, everything is there. Not only is it a great music city, but a great art city, food city… Architecture. Last time I was there, I rode my bike and it was pretty cool. It’s a lovely way to see things. Once you get out of the venue, you can just get on your bike and ride. It gives you a better flavor of where you’re playing and we do a lot of spontaneous things in the show and incorporate names of places around the city. It’s just getting out of your bubble. Sometimes when you’re touring—we’ve been doing it for about 25 years—you can get wrapped up in your own little world, and it’s nice to get a little bit of that culture. And with a bicycle at your finger tips, you can.

When you’re cooped up in the bus, what do you do to keep yourselves busy?

            We watch a lot of documentaries. Films. We always keep a documentary on hand. So that certainly helps pass the time away. We’ll hang out together, go out for a meal together. That sure helps because staying amused is tough. You’re away from your house, you’re away from your family, you’re away from your kitchen—you’re away from the things that make you feel comfortable, so to be able to help each other out and enjoy culture sure helps when you’re on the road.

Now, I know this is going back several years, but so many people watch The Big Bang Theory and hear you guys on the intro. How’d you get to create the theme song for the show?

            Well, the creators of the show were huge Barenaked Ladies fans and they came to a show when we were in Los Angeles. And they were working on the pilot for The Big Bang Theory and Ed [Robertson; vocals/lead guitar] was going off on a book that he’d just read on fractal theory and the creation of the universe and things like that and somehow, it found its way into onstage banter. So a spontaneous rap song was created on stage and the creators turned to each other and said, “We’ve gotta get these guys to do the theme for the show.” So about six months later, we got a call that the show was ready to go and they told us they wanted us to explain the creation of the earth in 30 seconds.

Ed wrote the song literally in the shower and we recorded a demo and we did it. They loved it. Then we played around to make a longer version of the song. And obviously, The Big Bang Theory is the biggest show at the moment and we’re very lucky. Everybody from the creators down to the actors—John [Galecki] and Kaley [Cuoco] are such awesome people and they really like their job… And I mean, they’re going to season 10 maybe? Which is incredible. It’s been a great thing!

What are your post-tour plans?

            We’re gonna get back into the studio probably right away in the fall and make a new record, hopefully get back on the road next summer and keep on keeping on. Or, “Keep on keep rocking,” as the Grateful Dead said.

 

Catch Barenaked Ladies as they pull into SummerStage in Central Park on June 13 and The Mann Center For The Performing Arts in Philadelphia on June 18. For more on these rockers, check them out at barenakedladies.com.

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