Astrid Stawiarz/Getty
Kelli Bender
June 17, 2015 05:15 PM

The Barenaked Ladies are back, but really they never went away. The band has been together for 27 years the group, selling over 14 million albums – and released their fourteenth studio album, Silverball, in June.

Through there close to three decades together, The Barenaked Ladies have given us The Big Bang Theory theme song, numerous hit singles, multiple solid karaoke jams and music to help you weather any kind of breakup.

The secret to their steady churn of success is a simple blend of humor, respect and hard work. The group talked to PEOPLE about how they brought those three elements to Silverball and what fans can expect from this year’s “Last Summer on Earth Tour.”

You have been together for a long time. I know there s been changes throughout the group, but overall, what do you think the secret is for going strong for 27 years?

Ed Robertson: I don’t think there’s a secret. It’s work. You’ve got to respect each other, you got to give each other space, but you also got to support each other. As much as being in a rock band can be really glamorous and exciting – and it can be a lot of things that people imagine it to be – if you just live that lifestyle, you’re gonna burn out really quickly. This band learned early on to communicate, right from the beginning we didn’t want to just burnout. We wanted to keep making music.

Tyler Stewart: Milkshake of the week also keeps it pretty exciting. Just a different flavor of milkshake. We’re into avocado and espresso this week, which is pretty exciting.

Kevin Hearn: We’re lucky to have a great audience that’s been with us over the years, and without them we couldn’t do this.

When you approach each album, how do you come up with new sounds, but also stay loyal to what fans like?

ER:I think I’ve actually been guilty of overthinking that a bit in the past. When it came time to make this record, I just thought I’m just gonna write songs and not worry about how I feel about them, how anybody else feels about them. I think I realized that the people I want to impress most are already in my band. If I just do my best and try to write great songs and then collaborate with these guys and try to make a great record, that’s my best path to success.

TS: We all have other projects that we work on, whether they be musical or community-based, or our families. Keeping your appetite whetted for good music sure helps, so when you come back together you can make it. The songs have always been good. So to work around that, to provide a musical framework for those songs, we have to get out of the world and experience new things so we can bring it all back to the table. And we try to do that. My world happens to consist of my backyard, my daughters’s bedrooms. But hey, It’s a world!.

Barenaked Ladies' Silverball

There’s a lot of pinball imagery with this album – where did that come from?

ER: Admittedly, I am the pinball geek of the band, probably of the nation of Canada. I’ve been a pinball fan my whole life. I started collecting machines in the late ’90s.

What do each of you feel like you put into the album?

Jim Creegan:I came up with a batch of songs pretty quick. I wanted to come to the table with something. I was writing a song; it was really kind of based on an argument that my community was having online. It was really frustrating for me. I started writing a really somber song about it. And then I realized, oh God, I just want to make a song that I can play live with the band. I want to bring energy into it. And with that thought, I started focusing on things in my community that I cherish, positive things that made me want to be there.

TS: Narrow Streets is that song. What about your songs, Kev? What were the inspirations behind your songs?

KH: Before I get onto that, I was just going to add that I justbring my arsenal of sounds and try to make the songs work and try to serve the song.

TS: Cause they’re bad at first when I bring them to Kev! He just tries to make them work – at bare minimum get them working.

KH:I come out of the room, and I m like, “I can’t fix this one!”

TS: “I’m polishing turds in there, Robertson.”

KH: I came in with two songs, and one is very upbeat – called “Passcode” – and it’s just, as Paul McCartney would say, a silly love song. The other song was called “Tired of Fighting with You.” That’s pretty dark but also sort of uplifting in a way, and that’s about living with a disease. As people may know, I struggled with cancer over the last decade or so.

KH: It’s great to not overthink it, too. I remember when we started making this record, we said, I don’t want to think about singles because often where there s a song that a focus track, we tend to overthink it too much sometimes.

ER: You end up throwing a ton of energy into one or two tracks, and the song that we thought was gonna be the single isn’t the single.

TS: Sometimes it comes down to that. It’s like you raise your children, and then you let them go off into the world, you know?

ER: You might put a lot of effort into one kid, and they might end up being the bad kid. It’s the kid you neglected that ends up doing something cool.

Are you guys excited to go back on tour?

JC: I’m looking forward to playing these songs live. There’s a ton of songs on this record that we could play for anyone right next to a hit that they know, and there’s energy on it that translates.

TS: Going for bike rides during the day. Kevin and I spent an entire day last tour buying bikes, helmets, and getting all set up. I think all of us are tacked up on the road with our bicycles.

Do all of you bike together?

ER: We’ll cross paths and meet for lunch.

Do you have any rituals other than bike rides before shows?

KH: I have a personal ritual. Just like 10 minutes before a show, I’ll open a beer, just so it feels like I’ve just arrived at a party. I have a few sips, then we go on stage.

You leave it, and you come back and get it when it’s warm? Just like a party.

KH: There’s a cigarette butt in it.

TS: 10 minutes into the show, he’s in the bathroom making out with a hot chick. 20 minutes into the show, he’s passed out in a pool of his own vomit. And at the end of the show he’s in jail.

ER: I don t really have a pre-show ritual. I almost try to sort of surprise myself every night.

TS: That burst of energy. You know from the first downbeat. There’s not much like it in life better than being able to do what you do in front of thousands of people who are screaming their approval.

How would you describe your fan base? Do you feel like a lot of them have been with you since the beginning?

ER: We meet people all the time who tell us that our first record was so important to them. They did a massive family road trip, and it’s all their parents played. And then they got really into us when they were in university. It’s really cool.

KH: And now here are our kids. We have multi-generations coming to our show.

TS: Ages 8 to 88, as Parker Brothers used to say.

ER: It’s pretty amazing. People have been introduced to our band in so many ways. Whether we were playing at their college or we were the record that entertained their kids with.

TS: They were conceived to our music.

Have you gotten a lot those?

TS: We’ve got a lot of that. “Oh man, I was conceived to your music!” But really … no

You’re known for doing covers on tour, are there any popular songs now that you want to cover this summer?

ER: We just got asked to cover a song, and we’re working on it. Going to do a fancy bluegrass version of a popular Phil Collins song. So we’re working on that. We’re also working on a cool McCartney cover.

KH: Also at the end of every show, we do a medley of covers. Just little snippets of songs that are currently popular. I think on this tour it’s gonna be, like, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift and Kanye. It’s very fun for us.

TS: Maybe a bit of Idina Menzel too. Bit of Adele Dazeem.

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