July 25, 2009

One Difference Between Canadian and American Media

I want you to take a look at these two articles. Obviously on different topics for different audiences, but it is an example of American media going for the shocking headline with no real newsworthy, in-depth reporting while...at least in this case, Canadian media has something a bit more meaningful.

Steven Page buys house near his arrest site
Barenaked Ladies singer faced cocaine possession charges last July
The Associated Press
updated 9:42 p.m. ET, Mon., July 20, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, N.Y. - Former Barenaked Ladies singer Steven Page has bought a new home in central New York next to the apartment where he and his girlfriend were arrested last July for cocaine possession.

Onondaga County real estate records show Page and girlfriend Christine Benedicto paid $265,000 for the four-bedroom house in Fayetteville, in suburban Syracuse. The sale closed June 30.

Cocaine possession charges against Page, Benedicto and Benedicto’s roommate were dismissed in April after they sought counseling and passed drug tests.

Benedicto says Page decided to settle in Fayetteville to accommodate her. Her daughter attends school there.

Page quit the Barenaked Ladies this year to pursue a solo career. The Canadian alternative rock band’s hits include “If I Had $1,000,000” and “Brian Wilson.”

And here's the Canadian coverage of what Page has been up to since his split from BNL.

Steven Page stripped bare

Former Barenaked Lady opens up about his split with the band that made him famous


Former Barenaked Lady Steven Page split with his band after a much publicized drug bust.
Photograph by: Courtesy, DavidBergman.net
Calgary Folk Music Festival

Steven Page performs Saturday at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. For full details and ticket information go to calgaryfolkfest. com


Would Steven Page still be a member of the Barenaked Ladies had it not been for that notorious drug bust in July 2008? That's the million-dollar question put to the very man who famously sang a silly pop song about the joys of possessing such cash with the Ladies' breezy 1992 hit If I Had $1,000,000.

And Page's reply?

The bespectacled singer-song-writer, who will be performing as a solo artist July 25 at the Calgary Folk Music Festival, says that in all likelihood he would still be a Barenaked Lady had it not been for his high-profile, all too uncomfortable brush with the law.

We all know the story. In July 2008 Page, his girlfriend and her roommate were arrested in Fayetteville, N. Y. and charged with cocaine possession. Page found himself facing up to 5½ years in prison.

The charges were dropped last May, but not before Page found himself embarrassingly dragged through the media mud.

That unfortunate incident was most certainly a catalyst, acknowledges Page, hastening his departure from the beloved, humour-oriented Toronto band that brought him fame on an international scale.

But talking to the 39-year-old, it's clear that his eventual split with the Ladies was inevitable.

"The band started when (co-founder) Ed (Robertson) and I were 18. We grew up together," says Page in an interview from his home in Syracuse, N. Y. "At a certain point you grow apart and you have to deal with that. We worked together as a great unit for a long time. . . . But we ended up having different goals. It reaches a point where you think 'How long do we do this for the sake of making it sustainable if, in the end of the day, we don't want the status quo?'

"It's a painful place to come to but . . . you have to make that break."

And now that the break has been made, the differences between Page and his former bandmates are becoming glaringly apparent.

Of his last disc with the Ladies, the children's record Snacktime! (released just two months before the not so kid-friendly drug scandal) Page says: "It was a lot of fun to do, but it wasn't my idea. I was along for the ride."

He felt a similar way about the band's Christmas record in 2004 and the theme song they wrote for the CBS-TV nerd sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

"It wasn't where I imagined I wanted to be," he says.

It might be said that Page had loftier goals for himself as a songwriter.

Since leaving the Barenaked Ladies last February, after accompanying the band on its Ships and Dips tour--in which they played for their fans on a cruise ship--Page has scored music for Ontario's prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

He's also recorded an orchestral chamber-pop record with a group called the Art of Time Ensemble, which will include interpretations of songs by the highbrow likes of Leonard Cohen, Radiohead and The Weakerthans. "Some of it's very challenging . . . more on the avant-garde side," Page says.

All of that is a world away from the Barenaked Ladies' stock in trade, the group known for such cleverly goofy, offbeat pop hits as Be My Yoko Ono, One Week and Brian Wilson.

Page is well aware that no matter what happens with his solo career, people will be loudly requesting that he play those songs for the rest of his life.

He's fine with that, he says, and he's planning to play a fair selection of Barenaked Ladies material when he performs his solo acoustic set at the Calgary Folk Music Festival this weekend.

"I'm not going to do something like One Week," he clarifies. "That's kind of Ed's thing. And (If I Had $1,000,000) is a duet between me and Ed. I can't imagine doing it on my own or with somebody else. But stuff like Brian Wilson and What A Good Boy easily falls into everything else I do. It's part of my identity. It's where I come from and I'm certainly not ashamed of that by any means.

"It would be false for me to pretend that stuff wasn't a part of me."

While Page admits that he's terrified to be venturing out on his own, he's also relieved to be away from a band that he feels was often unfairly stigmatized.

"The fun, goofy, quirky thing we did, we did incredibly well," he says of the Barenaked Ladies.

"But we were also really proud of the songcraft and the range of emotions and ideas that we explored. I think diehard fans understood, but casual observers didn't give us a lot of opportunities to express those things. . . . We felt like a lot of what we did that was really good didn't get the attention it merited."

One particular attack from a critic packed a sting that Page still feels today.

"He said 'The only thing worse than a comedy band are a comedy band's serious songs,' " Page recalls. "I thought 'Oh God, that hurts.' "

The Barenaked Ladies had a lot more to offer than just giggles, Page says. They had depth, and that's a side he hopes to delve deeper into as a solo artist.

"A lot of my favourite artists, whether it's Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits or Elvis Costello . . . they all have a sense of humour in their music even though they're not necessarily known as humorists. But they have moments of levity and black humour . . . and I feel like I have to explore more of that. Not that I'm on their level, but the place they come from is a place I identify with."

Even so, had it not been for the drug arrest, Page believes he'd still be trying to make his artistic visions work within the context of the Barenaked Ladies.

"(The breakup) wouldn't have happened when it did," he says.

Page regrets the impact his ordeal had on his former bandmates, the group cancelling a string of Disney Music Block Party gigs following the bust.

"They were scared just like I was," he says. "They were nervous. But they were willing to wait and see what happened. . . . This is not how anybody imagined our life together or our image going and it was tough for everybody. . . . You just kind of roll with it as friends and brothers do."

But once the smoke cleared, it was time for everybody to sit down together and figure out whether or not Page had a future with the Barenaked Ladies.

"When you're on the career treadmill together, you keep moving forward," he explains. "But when something like this derails you, it forces you to take a good hard look.

"The criminal charges for me, and for those guys too, it made us take a really hard look at what we wanted and didn't want."

1 comment:

  1. It might simply be Page is more widely recognized in Canada, and greater coverage might attract more readers.