The official video for Steven Page's "White Noise" off of his recently released "Discipline: Heal Thyself Pt. II"

Talking The Beatles, ‘Discipline: Heal Thyself Pt. II,’ and Wesley Stace With Steven Page

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Whether or not you know it, Steven Page is very likely the songwriter between some of your favorite mid-to-late-’90s earworms. For over two decades Page served as the second half of the songwriting equation that made up beloved Canadian pop group the Barenaked Ladies, responsible for hits such as “One Week,” “Pinch Me,” “It’s All Been Done,” and “Call and Answer.” The other half of that equation, Ed Robertson, is still a part of the band, which Page left in 2009.

Since leaving the group, Page has released a number of albums full of brainy, catchy pop; most recently Discipline: Heal Thyself Pt. II (Wea Int’L), the follow-up to 2016’s Instinct: Heal Thyself Pt. I (Ole). Discipline is cerebral, self-referential, and doesn’t hesitate to dip into what one might consider one of Page’s greatest strengths: his ability to get real melancholy, real seething, real quick. One could say that this ability is often what put the Barenaked Ladies into a pop music class of their own — after all, what kind of pop song has the chorus “Because I’m lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did?”

(Photo by David Bergman)

A song that made it to 18 on the Canadian singles charts; 68 on the U.S. Billboard charts; and, more importantly, was covered by it’s hallowed subject matter, Brian Wilson, and crystallized by his live version recorded on 2000’s Live at the Roxy Theater — that’s what type! That particular song, “Brian Wilson,” from the Barenaked Ladies’ 1992 debut, Gordon, is said to have been penned by Page on his 20th birthday, largely in reference to his late night trips to the Sam the Record Man record store location on Yonge Street in Toronto.

Discipline is a sort of epitome of what Page is, as a brilliant songwriter. It’s at times despairing (opener “Nothing Special,”), sometimes playfully critical (“Shooting Star,”), and at times bitingly, satisfyingly condemning (the had-to-be-edited-for-radio resistance anthem “White Noise,”).

“Lyrically, the first record really focuses on what it is to live as an artist, and to be an artist and not be ashamed of it,” Page said in an interview with WOUB a few weeks before his October 12 appearance at Thirty-One West (31 West Church Street, Newark, OH), regarding Instinct and Discipline as one project, released in two parts. “In my discipline of rock and pop music, to say you’re an ‘artist’ sounds instantly pretentious; as if we are ashamed of what we do for a living, because for the other side of the world, it hardly seems like a job — even though it can be difficult and heartbreaking and exhausting — it’s something we love to do, and the album is sort of about the feeling that one needs to justify it as our vocation. I know I am always grappling with my own sense of shame about it. The second record is more at peace with itself, but it asks a lot of questions. Like what does my voice mean? Does it mean anything outside of myself? Does it have value? Can it change things for the better for other people? Or is it just a tool I use to work on myself?”

Listen to WOUB’s entire interview with Page, embedded above. On Friday, October 12, the Steven Page Trio will perform at Thirty-One West in Newark, OH, starting at 8 p.m. Wesley Stace, a.k.a. John Wesley Harding, will open.