Music

The Tragically Hip to release new album of previously unheard tracks

Saskadelphia will include tracks recorded by the band during 1991’s Road Apple sessions.

Saskadelphia will include tracks recorded by the band during 1991’s Road Apple sessions

'We are, sadly, never going to have the chance to put out new stuff. For us, in our minds, this is new,' said Gord Sinclair. (Jim Herrington)

"It is 1990 in New Orleans, in an old mansion that looms over the neighbourhood called Vieux Carré or the French Quarter. It is a place of ghosts, mostly friendly, that suddenly find themselves sharing space with a Canadian rock band trying to exorcise demons of its own."

So begins the introduction to a just-announced set of previously unreleased songs from the Tragically Hip. It contains five songs recorded during the band's 1990 Road Apples sessions and one song written around the same time. Collectively called Saskadelphia, which was the original working title for Road Apples and a portmanteau for the band's sense of touring everywhere (but feeling like they could be anywhere, from Saskatoon to Philadelphia), the six-song EP will be released on May 21.

According to the Hip's press release for the new album, there were "countless tracks" left in the studio from its 1990 sessions. The band had wanted to release a double album at the time, but they put out the single-album Road Apples instead, their second studio album that held such gems as "Long Time Running" and "Fiddler's Green." When a 2019 New York Times article incorrectly identified the band as one that had lost tapes in the 2008 Universal Studios fire, the band remembered their old recordings. (Instead of sitting in a Universal lot, the tapes had been relocated to Canada in 2001.)

Rediscovering the discarded tracks three decades later, the band wanted to share them more widely. 

"I went 'Wow' when I heard 'Ouch' after all this time," said guitarist Rob Baker. "We were a pretty good little band."

Lindsay Pereira, a freelance journalist, wrote the introduction to the new set of songs. In March 2021, Pereira wrote the article "As an immigrant, I wanted to understand Canada's fascination with the Tragically Hip. This is what I found" for CBC Music. It resonated with the band — and plenty of fans — and one month later Pereira found himself virtually meeting with Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair in order to introduce their upcoming project.

As Pereira wrote in his introduction:

This is a bittersweet record. As Sinclair puts it, "We are, sadly, never going to have the chance to put out new stuff. For us, in our minds, this is new." Langlois calls it nerve-racking but hopes fans old and new appreciate "the sound of a band on fire." 

Baker is curious about the reaction, while Fay recalls how things used to be. "When we made a record," he says, "we would be able to sit with it for a while after it was mixed and mastered. It was this golden time of two months or so, where we could play it for friends, but had no idea how it would do. We were just happy because it was a time capsule of that period of our lives, though we had probably moved on and played other gigs. It's one of those things that, when you're a band, you want as many people to hear your music as possible. You never really know, but it's nice to be able to get it out at the end of the day. It's part of our DNA."

Listen to Saskadelphia as of May 21.

Tracklist:

  1. "Ouch"
  2. "Not Necessary"
  3. "Montreal (Live from the Molson Centre, Montreal, Dec. 7, 2000)"
  4. "Crack my Spine Like a Whip"
  5. "Just as Well"
  6. "Reformed Baptist Blues"
The Tragically Hip's 6-song EP of previously unreleased songs will be out May 21. (Courtesy of Universal Music)

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