Steven Page on new album, life after the Barenaked Ladies

TORONTO -- Steven Page just marked his seventh year apart from the Barenaked Ladies. The passage of time hasn't brought him any closer to his former bandmates.

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He "almost never" speaks with Barenaked Ladies co-founder Ed Robertson, or the group's other members, and hasn't looked back since leaving the band in February 2009.

"I have nothing but respect for those guys," Page says, "but we don't chit-chat or anything."

The singer-songwriter's latest solo album, "Heal Thyself Pt. 1: Instinct," arrives on Friday as the first instalment of a two-part pop opus that ruminates on the significance of being an artist.

Page says he struggled with finding direction after leaving the band that produced inescapable Canadian hits like "One Week" and "If I Had $1,000,000."

"The hardest thing for me was I self-identified as a Barenaked Lady," he says.

"I started the group with Ed and that's who I was for most of my adult life. I look at it now and think I'm kind of proud of myself to kind of have some kind of identity beyond that."

Page says "Heal Thyself" considers the evolution of artistry and the persistent need to qualify life as a musician as a "real job," when much of it comes down to "thinking, daydreaming and watching movies" to find inspiration.

The second album subtitled "Discipline," exploring the journey from a different perspective, will arrive within the next year, he says.

Searching for a creative truth was one of Page's priorities as his brotherhood with the Barenaked Ladies began to fray in 2008.

Around the same time, Page was embroiled in drug possession charges after police found cocaine at a Fayetteville, N.Y., apartment. A deal was reached with Page, his then-girlfriend and her roommate who also faced charges, but it was clear his priorities were on a divergent path from his bandmates, who were wrapping up publicity for a children's album.

Page says he suggested the Barenaked Ladies regroup with a tour that would've marked their 20th anniversary, but the band disagreed.

"They wanted to go headlong into a brand new album. I just ended up being through hell and back and was not ready to do it yet," he recalls.

"The idea of going in and making another record filled me with dread."

The Barenaked Ladies forged ahead without Page, making three studio albums with Robertson as the frontman.

While Page says he hasn't maintained contact, last year he filed a lawsuit that claims he's owed royalties for his contribution to the theme song for the hit TV series "Big Bang Theory," which was written and performed by the Barenaked Ladies.

TMZ reported that Page claims in legal documents that he was supposed to receive 20 per cent of the song's proceeds, but that Robertson has pocketed the money. In the filing, Page estimates he's owed more than $1 million.

Page declined to talk about the lawsuit saying it's still before the courts.

"I wish I could say more, but I'm sure my lawyers don't trust me to say the right thing," he says. "I'll probably be too honest."

Page is keeping busy in all avenues of his creative life, composing scores for Stratford Festival productions of "Hamlet" and "Macbeth" and playing tribute concerts focusing on the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album as part of a music collective.

Later this month, Page will launch a two-week intimate concert series at New York's posh Cafe Carlyle restaurant, performing songs from his new album and a selection of older Barenaked Ladies tracks, like "Brian Wilson" and "Jane," which he says he's proud to keep playing.

"They've always come out of my body from day one, so that part feels very natural to me," he says.

"It makes me feel good ... I feel like I'm on the same journey rather than stopping and turning into someone else."



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