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Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies

..........Bassist Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies

.......Ji The Barenaked Ladies have quite the life and they have fun just taking things one step at a time. "I think that there is sometimes that anxiety to have something all happen at once, but ultimately before that happens there are all those steps that must take place," says Creeggan. "As a band we've sort of stopped worrying about the end of the line result. I think we're more committed to the process rather than some unrealistic ending point. We're just now realizing that we should enjoy the success while it's happening. The goals that we do arrive at from now until then can only build longevity to our careers . Jim Creeggan from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. Is currently the bassist for the Barenaked Ladies, and is one hell of a bassist, if I may say so. He is the other half of the ingenious Brothers Creeggan. When not touring with BNL, Jim And his brother Andy have ventured into a musically solo venture as the "The Creeggan Brothers " which is currently touring now.

............INTERVIEW with Jim Creeggan....11 /99
Q: How are things going?
A: Going pretty good. We're played in Austin, TX. Last night good show.
Q: Last time I saw Barenaked Ladies was at the Bridge Show Benefit last year for Neil Young ,does BNL do many Benefits?
A: We were ask to do Farm Aid which we are honored to be part of it.. You know, we were luckily asked to do Farm Aid, which is a real honor to be a part of and so we did a big benefit there, in Nashville. It was just really great to be a part of something run by people who are big inspirations and also seeing the music and seeing something positive going to a worthy cause like Farm Aid and Bridge School. It's kind of an emergency isn't it. Its' even from being there getting more awareness about it and talking to the guys, it just seems to be even more of a pressing matter. Even though its only a half hour set
Q: Does any one from BNL live in the States?
A: No, we all live in Toronto, We all live around Toronto actually. Actually, our keyboard player is sort of ill right now, so a guy from Giggytau, which is based in LA is sort of filling in, he's a good friend. So, he's the LA guy in our band.
Q: How is keyboardist Kevin Hearn since his illness?
A: He's on the road to recovery. He was actually just down to do a few TV shows with us. We just did Good Morning America and he came down to do those with us.
Q: So how is the Creeggan Brothers solo project doing?
A: Were just releasing a new record, and were going to tour too, starting in February work our way down the west coast across the bottom states, then up the northeast. My brother Andy plays: piano, percussion, accordion, hammered dulcimer, steel pan and vocals
Q: Do you have a brother you worked with on a couple of projects?
A: Yeah, yeah. We're actually just releasing a new record. We're going to tour it too man. Yeah we are going to be touring it like in the U.S. down the West Coast on February 1st and we're going to go across the bottom and then up to the Northeast. In the great tradition of brothers. He used to be in the Bare Naked Ladies actually, so he was in the band all the way to "Maybe You Should Drive", which was our second record. So he plays piano and percussion . It's kind of nice, because it allows other musical endeavors that jump into the Bare Naked world which makes it a more well rounded experience
Q: I see that your coming to San Francisco.
A: Oh yeah, for sure. We're definitely going to be there. It's probably going to be the beginning of February, like the 2nd or 3rd.
Q: And how about BNL tour ?
A: Not really, because we're going to be pretty much writing for the next album. While I tour with my brother, Steve and Ed are going to be getting the tunes together for the next record.
Q: Anything new in the works musically?
A: Well Tyler did a thing called "Don't Talk Dance" a couple of years ago. It was only in Canada, but that was definitely like a great thing. It was like a real dance based thing as the name sort of lends itself. Totally. It's good. Hopefully we can allow for the band to be a long lasting career so we can distribute our energy and allow for a little bit of variety.
Q: What kind of guitar amps do you use?
A: Alright, let's get down to it. I use Eden base amps. Steve and Ed use Fender. Ed uses a Matchless amp as well. I have always been shopping around, but I sort of landed on SWR a long time ago and then found out about Eden. He used to be involved with SWR and tried out his amps and it sort of suited the double base perfectly. It's just like a really warm sound and fit what I do excellently, so it made sense. Actually, I signed a deal with those guys and they helped me out all over the place. They are a really great company. They are really family based. Went out and had Chinese food with the family.
Q: Did you start out with a double base when you were younger?
A: Yeah. That has always been where I started - I started like a string orchestra in school.
Q: I have a lot of respect for bass players that play with no frets ,how do you do that.
A: Definitely, you have to work at that intonation. There is a whole new element of music introduced there.
Q: For the Bare Naked Ladies, when did you feel was really the turning point for you?
A: I think things started turning around for us - well ultimately it was a slow burn - all the success we did gain, was mainly through playing live shows. Just persistently coming down and playing. That sort of set us up to have a real fan base, a foundation and then from there, a few radio people took a chance on us. This one guy on the Planet in Detroit called Garrett, he took a chance and when he took a chance and got great results on people phoning back and saying what was that, he sort of ploughed the way for the rest of America radio. And then you know, other things started happening. Like the people started listening to that and it spread radio wise and having a chance to be on Cohen and O'Brien, and stuff like that. Things started really growing. People like Cohen and O'Brien taking a chance on us, it's great. Then luckily we did a live album which really caught on and people really dug it because it reflected exactly what we did and why tons of people would be coming to see us live. It was a document to that whole scene. Then the mainstream just slowly caught on, like this last record. Luckily our single - everything was in place. We had the fan base, we had the live shows, we had radio stations interested in us, and then the single was good and totally worked for everybody and the video was successful at Much Music. Everything was in place and when the signal showed up, everything, all the mainstream walls just came tumbling down and everybody was really interested.
Q: Was the humor side of your show always there ?
A: It's actually been there right from the beginning. Like Steve and Ed when they were a duo, like a year before I joined in l988, were opening for a sort of musical-comedy troupe called "Corky and the Juice Picks" and they are absolutely amazing. There's one guy, Sean Cullen, who's actually on the West Coast right now, he's doing lots in LA, is like our entertainment guru. He is like the guy. He's not really well known here, but he's known really well in Toronto. So that was the beginning, and through that, we've always had fun on stage and you know, you would be touring so much that you would just be so completely exhausted and sticking to any strict schedule is not in your interest at all or just where you want to be. So we would just go off on tangents and when we would do that, we started realizing that the audience was actually having a better time when we were relaxing and going off and trying stuff. So we began to trust that whole improvisational element of the show more and more.
Q: So your live show is where the energy's at ?
A: I think we believe in the music as well and that's one reason we stick to it and when we didn't believe in the music or what we were doing, fans did, so we believed then. So, I think in a lot of ways, playing live and listening to what the fans are doing is the reason why we are still together and still a happening musical group ensemble - because the fans sort of pulled us through some tough times. We saw a reason to be together.
Q: Are your so skids on stage totally ad-libbed, or do you get together and talk about what your going to do before your live show ?
A: Actually most of the time, it's what's on the mind of the day. We'll just stumble into something. Steve and Ed will be chatting away and if they come up with something that is mildly amusing to me, I will sort of back it up in a musical way and we'll take it from there, or one of the other guys. You know, Tyler will start a drum beat behind some sort of thing that they talked about.
Q: Were you guys a college band when you started?
A: We played around Toronto a lot when we in university. My brother was actually in high school when we started playing.
Q: What do you feel your projecting to the audience, is there any statement you are trying to make?
A: I think if anything, it's a do don't tell kind of scenario. Our message is mainly what we are and what we do and that is sort of more, that by having so much fun being in the moment, that is more of what we are and what we are projecting. It's sort of trusting that there is something always there to play on, there is always something to have fun with.
Q: A lot of your songs are well written, even though your having fun on stage, your songs are actually hitting the charts, did you strive for this?
A: Yeah, it's something that has always been a strong aim for the band - is putting out songs that actually have a life and soul to them. I think that there are other layers to the group that are always available if someone is interested.
Q: The song about Brian Wilson the Beach Boy leader, was that difficult getting his permission to sing about him?
A: No actually. Well luckily we heard that he actually likes the song, so that's great, but we did not clear it with him. It was more a song about him you know.
Q: Is this a Promo tour?
A: This is a promotional tour about 12 dates. Then, the shows after Christmas are sort of an annual thing.
Q: Which one's your favorite song?
A: I like "Call and Answers". I actually like "One Week" as well. The extreme of consciousness, it seems really genuine in the verses. I like those things that are polar opposites almost, but they are both my favorites.
Q: You played the Bay Area a lot in the past didn't you?
A: Yeah, it was sort of the beginning of stepping into, I guess including ourselves in a musical relationship with other bands. We've always been sort of out playing our own shows. Sort of an entry into a scene that was already established.
Q: Didn't Justin Priestly do something with you guys, like a documentary?
A: He did one video for us, "The Old Apartment Video", and he just did a documentary, he came on the road last year for two weeks and put cameras on what we do. So, it appeared in the "Trial Film Festival" and it's a really great thing and we are just trying to get it into the "Sundance Film Festival".
Q: Are you guys basically the same as you were before with all the fame?
A: It's definitely an adjustment. It's a page of reality for us. Things have totally changed for us and a lot of my friends don't have money. Probably 90% of my friends are just scraping by and just trying to find some kind of profession that they can put some time into and grow with and I have already been in something for ten years and its starting to carry me financially and then some. As it relates to the band, there is five of us and we've known each other right from the beginning and I think if someone sort of starts getting out of hand or off, not that anybody has, but if someone gets a little bit more distant or high in their loafers, then it really just doesn't wash with the rest guys of the guys that have been there for the whole time. So we have each other to kind of balance ourselves out.
Q: I read that you fans are absolutely amazing. You have total commitment with them don't you?
A: We are interested in not severing ties, by nurturing our career and keeping in touch with fans. We sort of stopped looking for that sort of glorious ending where we can chill out on an island somewhere. Like I want to live in Toronto and I want to keep on playing for people. Its where I learn the most. Its where there's more offered by interacting with people, then sort of cutting off people just because we have money. I don't want money to delegate to me what I do.
Q: Your value system sounds like it's right on track.
A: I did just buy my house and I thought wow, I am really happy to be able to afford that. I am really lucky. I definitely want to keep that place for people to come and hang if they don't have a place to stay, because I've been in that position.
Q: A lot of your albums, there is similarity in your albums, do you think Bare Naked Ladies will branch out in other areas?
A: I think we are sort of interested in working with different people and that will always bring something different out of the band, As well, I think we get bored pretty quick. Not that we get bored with what we do now, but we are always sort of interested in something new and I think, carrying with us what we have learned and what really works well for us in the past and then sort of adding something new to it. I think we are more interested in making ourselves entertained as well.
Q: What famous comedy team would you compare yourselves to, like the Max Brothers?
A: You know that's funny you should say the Marx Brothers, because I think Neil Young said to us after watching us perform at the Bridge Benefit a while back, "Hey, you guys are like the Marx Brothers". I don't know. Maybe that's it. There's the answer from Neil Young himself - we're the Marx Brothers.
Q: What was the strangest thing you ever witnessed on stage the stage.
A: This is one thing, when we were playing in LA outside, and there was these two extra amazing dancers. They are like, they were two guys dressed in green dresses and they could do flips and shit and they were like dancing major happening babe. So, we brought them up on stage and this one guy did a whole backflip. It was awesome. That was fun. Lot's of shit has happened, but that was one thing that came to mind. He looked at me too. He came up to me and looked into my eyes and I said "what are you doing" and he did this back flip.
Q: At the Warfield, Ed gave the guitar to the security guard and asked him to start playing, that's wild stuff !
A: Yeah, that was cool. It's funny. We've started since then sort of getting different people to play the guitar in the audience and its fun, because usually they don't know what's going on, but its amazing how we can get them playing something.
Q: Have you tried any of the modern double bass's?
A: I actually play a - Ned Steinberg made a five string stand up electric - and that's great. It's just a really great base.
Q: Is that your favorite?
A: It is kind of in a way. It's like a thin base and it sounds awesome, so that's definitely what I am. I might even be using that as my main base in San Francisco, just because it flies well and it's sort of interchangeable with my stand up. It's really tough to. A forklift hit the case when I was coming up to Toronto and hit actually blew one of the case out and there is a hole at the other end of the case where the instrument actually pierced the wall of the casing it went through and the thing didn't even get bent - like it's so tough.
Thank You it's been a real pleasure....

By Randy Cohen

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