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Trans-Canada Highwaymen: Explosive Hits!

Left to right, Chris Murphy of Sloan, Craig Northey of Odds, Steven Page formerly of Barenaked Ladies, and Moe Berg of The Pursuit of Happiness.

Steven Page is in his home studio in Syracuse, New York, procrastinating.  He’s procrastinating productively, mind you.

“I’m in my studio and it’s like a giant Gordian Knot of cables so I’m unplugging everything, wiping all the cables down, and then putting everything back together,” he says, and then laughs. “It’s terrible. I hate this kind of thing.”

He’s organizing instead of what he’s meant to be doing: recording vocals for an album. More on that later.

The former lead singer of iconic Canadian pop group Barenaked Ladies, Page has had a solid solo act for 15 years. For the past seven, he’s also been a member of Trans-Canada Highwaymen, a supergroup composed of Page, Chris Murphy of Sloan, Craig Northey of Odds, and Moe Berg (originally from Edmonton!) of The Pursuit of Happiness.

This gang of musical giants is making their way to Alberta soon for three shows. We’ve caught up with Page to hear more about Highwaymen life and how the group came to be.

“It’s really a chance for us to get out on the road and laugh,” he says. “We have known each other forever. It’s a chance for us to spend time together and we really enjoy it, both on and off stage.”

The group formed in 2016. The idea was to create a touring band where they’d play all their individual hits as a group, swapping instruments, and generally living it up with the audience.

“Playing together, these hits that everyone knows, and the audience knowing basically every word to every song, it’s a crazy great feeling,” Page says.

The members of the group all have their “day jobs”, as he puts it, i.e. playing with their other bands, but come together on a regular basis. They’re touring throughout much of 2024, basically whenever all four have space in their schedules.

Trans-Canada Highwaymen released their first album, Explosive Hits Vol. 1, in October. It’s a cover collection of their favourite Canadian AM radio hits from 1969 to 1975.

“[Work on the album] started during COVID and in the early days of the pandemic, the text chain of the Highwaymen was one of the things that just kind of kept me going,” says Page. “Something light in the darkness of that time, that’s what this band was.”

Another album is on the horizon, Explosive Hits Vol. 2, with recording possibly to begin this year. The plan is to feature songs from 1976 to 1981, give or take. And hopefully all recorded together, in person.

“I was pretty thrilled with how the first one turned out but it would be nice to make a record where we’re all in the same room,” he says.

As for Page himself, he’s juggling a few musical plates at once, including a follow-up to his 2005 album, The Vanity Project, which is what he’s supposed to be working on today. “That’s why I’m unplugging and plugging everything back in, to avoid committing my vocals to tape. ‘I can’t do the vocals, everything is unplugged!’ he jokes.

Trans-Canada Highwaymen have shows coming up in Edmonton, March 8, Sherwood Park, March 10, and Calgary, March 23. Details and tickets can be found here.

“Theme from Trans-Canada Highwaymen” by Trans-Canada Highwaymen