NEW YORK – Steven Page has found himself lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did. Page’s song for the Barenaked Ladies, titled after Wilson, speaks to Page’s own mirrored experience with depression.
He’s been in a dark place, like Wilson, The Beach Boys co-founder, all under the magnifying glass of the public eye.
“That’s something I certainly wouldn’t wish upon anybody else. It’s hard enough struggling with your own mental health, but when you realize that other people are watching what would often be a very private thing for most people… there’s a certain level of embarrassment and shame to that that can sometimes compound on top,” the former Barenaked Ladies’ front man said during an interview before his headlining show at the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee.
Songs like Over Joy from his first solo album show that his style of writing serious lyrics to a catchy pop melody hasn’t changed completely.
Lines like “my depression/has got me choosing doom/and gloom over joy” show a direct approach in writing about his mental health struggles, comparable to his public speeches on the topic.
Page has been called upon for many speaking engagements, many at universities, as well as a spot hosting a few mental health episodes on CBC’s The Current.
He talks candidly on the topic, turning his negative experiences into positive ones.
He acknowledges that public figures play a role in the perception, and believes we need more voices in business and politics to step into the spotlight.
“Even though we do talk about it a lot more than we used to, people don’t always have the chance to talk about their own experience. When I speak to them, there’s the opportunity to feel like they’re sharing the experience and I really have fantastic conversations with people afterwards.”
Page left the Barenaked Ladies in 2009, less than a year after his arrest for drug possession, and released a solo album in 2010.
Though five years have passed since he’s been the voice of the Barenaked Ladies, he’s still associated with them, he said.
“When you say Steven Page, people (say) ‘who’s that?’ Then they see me, and they hear me, and they [realize] ‘oh, it’s that guy.’”
His next album is set to come out next year, a record he compares to a “’70s double album” due to its length of 20 tracks.
When he’s not keeping busy working on his newest album, Page is dining on illegal fare, for a film crew.
Travelling around North America, he feasts on food that’s been banned, served within unlicensed restaurants, and at secret locations.
The Illegal Eater finished season one, and is currently waiting to hear if it will continue.
The idea came from two producers in Winnipeg, who were fans of Page.
“They came to me and pitched it to me. I went, ‘I never really thought about that, but I have always said to people (that) If I was ever going to do a TV show, I’d want to do a food one.’”
He sees food as a way to analyze people, questioning why they eat the way they do.
His own eating habits, seeking out new and interesting food experiences, say a few things about his own personality.
“I like to connect with my food. I love to cook and create things and learn new things about preparations and history…. The way I eat is more about my own curiosity than anything else.”
Page takes the main stage on Sunday.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda