Barenaked Lady Kevin Hearn wears Thin Buckle well

Canadian pop band Barenaked Ladies is known for good-natured folk-rock and humorous onstage yakking. When BNL keyboardist Kevin Hearn and his offshoot band Thin Buckle take the stage at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge Tuesday, they may play a few BNL songs, but the sound will come from a different place.

“Musically, it’s a little more left-of-center,” Hearn said by phone from Hawaii. “It’s more my own singular songwriting vision, whereas BNL was a band that I joined in 1995. This is my own garden, so to speak. It’s not devoid of humor, but it’s not about the banter.

“Certainly, there’s other differences,” he continued. “I don’t tour with the comfort or luxury of a BNL tour. We’re in a van. But by the same token, it’s not as on the radar and there’s not as much pressure. It’s not about money. It’s more of a passion and hopefully it will build its own audience.”

Hearn, 40, is touring behind “Havana Winter,” the fifth CD he’s done since he joined BNL in ’95 – one solo album and three with Thin Buckle, which includes bassist Chris Gartner and drummer Bob Scott. Hearn sings and plays keyboards, guitar, accordion and mandolin.

The music Hearn makes is, for the most part, atmospheric and contemplative.

“It’s not an out-and-out rock show,” he said, “but it’s certainly interesting musically and, hopefully, lyrically. If I can cast a little spell and have everyone enjoy the music, that’s a great night.”

There’s a sense of both melancholia and hope, qualities that Hearn said he possesses, too. In 1998, doctors diagnosed Hearn with leukemia, but thanks to a bone-marrow transplant from his brother, his disease is in remission. He’s dealt with the trauma and turbulence through his music.

“Before I went through this experience, I would try to write about deep things without having the experience,” Hearn said. “Going through leukemia and cancer treatment and a bone marrow transplant gave me the opportunity, unfortunately, to dig deep and face that sort of thing head-on.

“I think I came out a little wiser. But it’s also a very bittersweet lesson. And it’s also very disorienting in a lot of ways you wouldn’t expect. There’s a very dark underbelly. But (with music) I also learned I could reach other people. I think that still helps me with my writing and my performing.”

For the past two years, Hearn’s also been in the touring band of one of his heroes, Lou Reed. He met Reed through Mike Rathke, Reed’s longtime guitarist, who also played on “Havana Summer.” Reed added guitar on three tracks.

“He plays a blistering cranked guitar solo on ‘Coma’,” Hearn said.

And Reed’s wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson, contributed electric violin on “Reeling.” Hearn says that listening to Reed’s “Magic and Loss” album helped him in his battle with cancer.

“The fact that I’m working with Lou and am friends with him, it all seems surreal,” Hearn said. “But in a weird way, it all connects.”

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