Trans-Canada Highwaymen drive into Burlington

Andrew Mrozowski
April 22, 2024
Est. Reading Time: 5 minutes

Sil sit down with Steven Page and Chris Murphy on their latest Trans-Canada Highwaymen tour

On May 9, 2024, Canadian rock supergroup, Trans-Canada Highwaymen, are bringing their tour to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre as a part of a tour promoting their first release, Explosive Hits Vol.1. The album is centered around the group covering Canadian classics from 1969-1975. Steven Page (Ex-Barenaked Ladies), Chris Murphy (Sloan), Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness) and Craig Northy (Odds) come together in this powerhouse of 90s CanRock legends.

The Silhouette had the opportunity to once again sit down with Page about his upcoming performance at BPAC, but this time, with the addition of Murphy.

While Explosive Hits Vol.1 was the first record the band has put out, they've been touring since 2017 in between the members' other projects.

When asked about the band's inception, Murphy looked to the lyrics of the Trans-Canada Highwaymen theme song that Page wrote for the band.

"[I]f I read it like a poem, that would answer your questions," Murphy said. "Craig and I were on the road, hoping our album would explode, but it didn't yet again. I got a call from Jim Milan for this idea for a band, like some CanRock highway man. He said he tried to book a show for me and Chris and Craig and Moe, we see what happens then. Just when things were looking bleak, look out flavour of the week, I'm out playing with my friends," continued Murphy.

The original concept for the shows was to have the four musicians recounting stories about gigs while performing a few songs from their careers.

"We thought, wouldn't it be fun if we were actually the band playing each other's songs, which kind of took it to the next step."

This dynamic approach to performance allowed the band members to step a little outside their comfort zones, often switching instruments and challenging the audience notions of their "traditional roles".

Chris Murphy, primarily known as the bassist in Sloan, found himself behind the drum kit for a significant portion of the set. Reflecting on this departure from his usual role, Murphy noted: "I play drums for most of the set . . . We each bring our material to this band and we're all kind of all over the place."

The fluidity in roles adds an element of surprise to their performances, delighting audiences who get to see a show that they weren't necessarily expecting.

The band's repertoire includes songs that many audience members would be familiar with. Barenaked Ladies songs like "Jane", "It's All Been Done" and "Brian Wilson", Sloan songs like "The Other Man" and "Rest Of My Life" as well as Odds and Pursuit of Happiness originals from Northy and Berg. Although Trans-Canada Highwaymen are performing songs from their past and current bands, the catch is that the songs must have been written by them.

Page emphasized the importance of audience familiarity with the material.

"I want the audience to feel like they can sing along with 95% of the show," he said.

The release of Explosive Hits Vol.1, featuring covers of iconic songs from 1969 to 1975, allowed the Trans-Canada Highwaymen to also perform a number of songs outside their typical set. The album showcases each member's unique interpretation of beloved Canadian classics.

"We each kind of chose ones that we love from that era . . . so you can see what our individual tastes are through the songs we chose," said Murphy.

Page explained that Explosive Hits Vol.1 was yet another project that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this would normally be a hindrance because they could not get into a studio together to physically record, the band found a unique solution.

"So a lot of what we did was we each of us, made the guide track for the other guys to play along with and replace parts and bring their own stuff to it. Each one kind of started with that singer's feel," said Page. "I think you can see what our individual tastes are or our styles are through the songs we chose."

Looking ahead, the prospect of Explosive Hits Vol.2 is very much on the table for Page and Murphy. While the band remains focused on their current tour, discussions about future projects, including additional albums, are already underway with a song list already currently being circulated amongst the band.

Both Murphy and Page shared what their favourite song to play from the current setlist is.

"I do get a big kick out of playing the drums. So I enjoy playing 'Rest Of My Life' . . . it's an audience favourite . . . it's [also] so much fun doing "Undun" with the extended scat solo," explained Page.

"Yeah, "Undun" is unbelievable. It's the hardest song. Steven has a hard job and all of us have a pretty hard job. It kicks ass . . . But, it's fun to melt faces playing "I'm An Adult Now" too," added Murphy.

Despite their pursuits outside the band, members of Trans-Canada Highwaymen find the super-group to be a fun musical outlet. Whether it's Chris Murphy's other band, Sloan, or Steven Page's solo projects, each member brings a wealth of experience and passion to the table.

Both artists confirmed that they are working on other projects at this time. Murphy confirmed to the Silhouette that the next Sloan record was in development.

"We're recording this Sloan record right now . . . just whenever people have time. Even the guy recording us doesn't have that much time, he's got a bunch of other things going on in his life and so we just do that whenever we can. But again, there's no rush . . . we're just going to do it whenever we feel like it," said Murphy.

"I am working on stuff for another record. I did a record 20 years ago with Steven Duffy called The Vanity Project. He and I have written a bunch of [Barenaked Ladies] songs together and songs for my solo career. So we're working on a follow up to that," said Page.

Page also told the Sil that he is working on another solo record, following his sixth record, Excelsior, as well as a holiday record and musical project with Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor. The artist continues to do his livestreamed "Live From Home" series, which started during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now with a 30-person live studio audience from Page's basement.

As the band continues to traverse the highways and byways of Canada, their music serves as a testament to the enduring power of friendship, laughter and the universal language of music.

Trans-Canada Highwaymen are playing the Burlington Performing Arts Centre on May 9, 2024. Tickets are now sold out. You can check out other BPAC shows on their website: You can check out the band's other performances at their website:

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