Skeletonwitch’s Evan Linger on the annoying positivity of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week”

Skeletonwitch’s Evan Linger on the annoying positivity of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week”

In HateSongwe ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.

The hater: BassistEvan “Loosh” Linger joined epic Ohio thrash band Skeletonwitch in 2008, about five years after the group’s inception. The band has released three excellent albums since, including the new Serpents Unleashed, which is out now on Prosthetic Records. Imbued with humor, riffs, and intense amounts of satanic energy, Serpents is the kind of massive record that can help tamp down the rage and anxiety that usually arises around the holidays, when endless mall hours can produce spontaneous outbursts that lean more towards naughty than nice. Get in the car, turn the heat up, listen to Serpents Unleashed full blast, and exorcise that hostility. Skeletonwitch will tour the States in January of next year.

The hated: Barenaked Ladies, “One Week” (1998)

The A.V. Club: Why is “One Week” your least favorite song?

Evan Linger: I did a lot of soul searching on this one. There are a lot of songs I hate, because I’m naturally a hater. I just hate this one the most. In the late ’90s, music really took a turn for the worse, grasping at the straws of all this alternative music. So there’s stuff like Sugar Ray—those songs, they’re so bad. Hootie And The Blowfish: terrible. Blues Traveler: terrible. But those are rock songs. At least someone was trying. “One Week” wasn’t even a rock song. It’s a weird college-rock song with some rap in it, and it doesn’t even qualify as music. It’s sort of like a big joke, so that’s why I picked it.

AVC: People seemed to like this song less the longer it was out. 

EL: Yeah, it was one of those you couldn’t escape no matter how much you hated it or liked it. It was always on the radio. It’s not just bad; it’s insidious and invasive. 

AVC: What is it specifically that you don’t like about it? 

EL: It’s the weird rap, and it’s some of the particular lyrics to the rap. Like I said before, it’s a college-rock song until the rap starts and I don’t like college rock. Plus, it’s Barenaked Ladies, and they’re the total package. They did the theme for that Big Bang Theory show and that show is terrible. Every other song they have is terrible. Have you ever seen the video?

AVC: Who hasn’t? 

EL: The video is terrible. Every time I look at the band I want to fight them or something. I know there’s the two main guys and one had a goatee and one had a weird fishbowl fat head. I don’t like the song, but it makes me mad just to think about the video. 

AVC: What is it in particular that you don’t like about the late ’90s?

EL: The ’90s had some bands that I didn’t love, but it’s more about how you have these late-’80s/early-’90s bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and the kind of alternative thing starting to get big, and that’s when I started to realize music was a thing. I was into some of those bands, but I was a little young to go to those shows. But then as the ’90s wore on, nobody thought of anything different. You still had this kind of alternative thing going on, and it was becoming more watered-down and radio-friendly. It got really diluted, so at the end of the ’90s, you had that Sugar Ray song “Fly” and the Barenaked Ladies song, and Alanis Morissette, and even more radio-friendly alternative stuff that was total crap but trying to be alternative music. 

AVC: Some of those songs sounded like they came out of a lab. Having talked to Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies, though, I don’t think this song is one of those. 

EL: They did something on NPR. I don’t know if they were on “Fresh Air” or something like that, but it made it worse because they seemed like okay guys. It’s funny that you’ve actually talked to one of them. Maybe they’re okay guys, but they committed a real heresy as far as music goes. I wonder if they know that, and I wonder if they can sleep at night. I wonder if they still think it’s cool to play that song live. They’re just on another fucking planet than the one I live on. 

AVC: Canada. 

EL: Yeah, that’s another thing. They’re Canadian. I love Canada and there are awesome bands in Canada and I love playing up there and I’d move there in a second. It’s awesome. Everything about Canada is awesome except Barenaked Ladies. They’re an insult to the region, I would say. 

AVC: Reading the lyrics to a song is never really a good idea, because they always read so flat and lifeless, but the lyrics for this song are especially shitty. They’re so of a moment.

EL: I wholeheartedly agree. It’s also embarrassing that when I read them, I know them. It’s like a Mad Lib where, if they left out some of the verbs and nouns, I could probably fill them in. In fact, in preparation for this interview, I was soul-searching for the song that brings up the most black hate in me, and it was obviously the Barenaked Ladies song. So I watched the video a few times and read the lyrics to keep my power up so I was extra angry for a good interview. I read the lyrics for three days, I think. 

AVC: Barenaked Ladies seems like the polar opposite to Skeletonwitch. 

EL: I don’t think we have anything in common. I hope we don’t have anything in common. If we do, maybe we’ll just throw in the towel.

AVC: Sometimes when we do these stories, commenters say, “Of course they picked this song. It’s the easiest song in the world to hate.” This one is going to get that response.

EL: I actually couldn’t think of anything in the beginning. There are a lot of bad songs, so you kind of have to narrow it down to a time period. With the age I am, I picked the ’90s. I think some of the stuff from that era… If you listen to a Nirvana album, does it hold up? Some of it probably doesn’t hold up, but it’s still really genuine and it’s kind of dark and kind of angry. I play in a metal band, so I’m a huge fan of black metal and can really get behind things that are dark and moody and angry and angsty. So, with “One Week,” I end up thinking about of how jovial the song is. It’s like they’re laughing in your face when they sing, like they know they’re singing a really bad song but they’re just shoving it in your face. Like, “We know you’re going to hate it. In your face!” It’s almost insulting when I listen to it. 

AVC: To play devil’s advocate, what’s wrong with fun music? What’s wrong with having a good time?

EL: Nothing. We definitely have a good time when we’re up on stage. That’s one thing that separates us from the European black metal bands, because they’re not smiling when they play music. We do smile because we’re having a good time. There’s definitely not anything wrong with having fun with it. I just think “One Week” is so upbeat that it seems like a song that you’d write if nothing ever went wrong in your life. Like, if you never got a flat tire or a hangnail or anything like that, those would be the lyrics to your song.

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