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Barenaked Ladies Tap Their Inner Child

Of the Oakland Press

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With its predilection for offbeat humor, few rock bands seem as appropriate to make a children’s album as Barenaked Ladies.

But singer-guitarist Ed Robertson says it took awhile for the Canadian quintet to warm to the idea and eventually make the group’s new album, “Snacktime.”

“We were resistant,” Robertson, 37, acknowledges. “We worried about what people would think, or what we thought of it. It’s just that every time we’ve had the opportunity to get into the studio, we’ve wanted to make another ‘real’ record.”

But after finding 2004’s “Barenaked For the Holidays” “an interesting departure,” Robertson and company decided to follow peers such as They Might Be Giants and Dan Zanes into the kids market.

“It’s really fun and kind of liberating to work on a niche project like that, a specific task,” Robertson explains. “When it came down to writing the songs and we got the first couple done, we figured, ‘This is gonna be a really fun record to make.’”

BNL had a built-in test audience for the “Snacktime” material, too — the band members’ own children, who also sang on some of the album’s 22 tracks. Robertson reports that his youngest son, five-year-old Arden, was the inspiration for “My Big Sister,” while his 12-year-old daughter Hannah noticed that BNL had left the letter “i” out of “Crazy ABC’s” (it’s back but, humorously, out of order in the final version).

“(The kids) were absolutely the benchmark,” says Robertson, who’s also co-hosting episodes of the Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet” and another series called “Ed’s Up” for the Canadian Outdoor Life Network. “I figured the sole purpose of this record was to be entertaining to kids, and the whole purpose of my adult life has been to be entertaining to my kids. I feel very comfortable in that role.

“So I just approached the record like that; ‘What would my kids enjoy?’ They were a great test market.”

Barenaked Ladies perform and sign copies of their new album, “Snacktime,” at 3:30 p.m. Friday (May 9) at Border’s Books & Music, 34300 Woodward Ave., Birmingham. Admission is free but capacity is limited. Call (248) 203-0005 or visit www.939theriverradio.com.

Web Site: www.939theriverradio.com

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