Pinball wizards, the Barenaked Ladies are at The Pyramids

Barenaked Ladies
Barenaked Ladies

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Few band frontmen would turn up to the first day of working on a new album with a pinball-related injury.

But that’s how things began for what would become Barenaked Ladies’ 14th album, with the pinball-related title Silverball.

Despite that, it finds Ed Robertson, the Canadian alt-rock act’s singer, in a happier place than he’s been in a long time.

He explains: ‘I actually think it’s the first record since the first record where I didn’t feel some sort of anxiety about it.

‘We had unprecedented success at home on our first record, it was very, very big. On one hand that emboldens you, and on the other hand it’s like, oh my God, there are now 70 people that work for me.

‘You want to keep coming to the table with songs that are interesting and it was difficult for me to shut out that pressure. I knew that everyone’s looking to me to deliver.

I never anticipated a song I wrote in the shower at my lake house would be one of our biggest hits

Ed Roberston, Barenaked Ladies frontman

‘But the last couple of records have just been getting progressively smoother and, I don’t know, healthier.’

The band have been enormously successful back home and in the States, selling more than 14m records. Here in the UK they remain best-known for their 1998 album Stunt and its hit singles One Week and It’s All Been Done.

They are also now famous for their theme song to the massive TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

‘Our relationship with that show has been fantastic,’ says Ed.

‘(The show’s producers) Chuck and Bill asked me to write the song because they were fans of the band.

‘They saw us live when they were developing the show and I’d just finished a book by British science author Simon Singh called The Big Bang. The timing was so good, I thought I’d been punked.

‘I never anticipated a song I wrote in the shower at my lake house would be one of our biggest hits.

‘We play it at every live show now – it’s a 30-second song, but it’s become one of our biggest hits.’

And the new album’s title track?

‘I’m a ridiculously huge pinball fan. Much of my excitement about coming back to the UK centres around visiting my favourites arcades, like The Pipeline in London.

‘There’s actually a new pinball manufacturer in the UK. I’m going to try and sneak there on one of the days off if I can.’

And he’s fully recovered from that injury.

‘You know when you really get into it, you get better at it, the games get longer and longer, and you play with a degree of intensity, like I do, there’s a physical stress component,’ he laughs.

He also loves UK audiences: ‘You have one of the most experienced audiences on the planet. People are used to being open-minded, it’s like everyone’s an educated music listener and live music-goer.’

The band’s UK tour opens at The Pyramids Centre in Southsea on Tuesday, doors 7.30pm. Tickets £30.75. Go to pyramids-live.co.uk