Barenaked Ladies Assembling Boxed Set

After a tumultuous year, particularly for its two lead singers, Barenaked Ladies are understandably "looking forward to seeing the ass end of 2008," according to drummer Tyler Stewart -- and to a 2009 in which the Canadian quintet will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a boxed set and, hopefully, some new music.

Since the May release of its children's album, "Snack Time," the Canadian quintet has made headlines mostly on the non-musical front. Steven Page is serving six months' probation after a July cocaine possession arrest in Fayetteville, N.Y. Ed Robertson, meanwhile, survived an August float plane crash and lost his mother, Wilma, on Dec. 13 to cancer.

"Adversity, if it doesn't kill you it makes you strong, I guess," Stewart tells Billboard.com. "We've rallied through adversity before. In some ways I'm looking forward to getting together and making some great music based on all these intense and emotional experiences. That's when we feel the most alive, the most energetic."

Stewart says that progress on new music has been "gradual" but that "the guys have been working individually on stuff, and together." He expects an early summer return to the studio but adds that "maybe we'll get some inspiration and jump in before that."

Meanwhile, BNL -- which has recorded a new version of the "Hockey Night in Canada" them for the TSN network -- has been immersed in preparing a boxed set to celebrate the group's 20th anniversary, unearthing "all kinds of crazy materials ... tons and tons of songs and videos and snippets and live stuff."

Among the rarities are demos and unreleased songs, including a markedly different take of "The Old Apartment" and some "really complex stuff" written by former keyboardist Andy Creeggan. Stewart says the set will likely come out in the fall.

"It's a bit of a pat on the back," the drummer notes, "like, 'Hey, you've done a lot.' But it's also, 'OK, now what else can we do? How can we move forward from here?' because we feel like we're not done yet by any means."

Stewart says BNL is planning a 20th anniversary tour, mostly likely for May. The group is ushering in 2009 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit and will host its third Ships and Dip Caribbean cruise in February, where it will be flanked by Sarah McLachlan, Great Big Sea, the Weakerthans, Gaelic Storm, Sloan and "Kids in the Hall" comedians Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald.

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