“We’re an eclectic rock band, there’s something for everybody, it’s a melodic, hooky, heavy, meaty, beaty, big and bouncy…”
The Trews have been around for the best part of 10 years and kicking ass and taking names in their home country of Canada. The crime against humanity is that they should be doing it all over the world, and it will happen, one day soon. They have found love here in Australia, so much so that they are about to spend the best part of two months here bringing their electic mix of rock to the masses.
We spoke with The Trews singer Colin MacDonald who was fresh off the stage from The Viper Room in LA to discuss their upcoming Australian tour, their newest album Hope & Ruin and just who they get their stage tips from. This really is a cool band you should check out!
Over to Trew…
For those that aren’t familiar with The Trews, how would you introduce yourself to someone hearing you for the first time.
Oh, we’re an eclectic rock band, there’s something for everybody, it’s a melodic, hooky, heavy, meaty, beaty, big and bouncy…
You have such a great association with Australia, how did all that come about?
It just sort of started like, we’ve been big in Canada for some time and we’ve been over the years trying to break in, like doing more gigs in the United Kingdom and doing more gigs in the US and stuff and Australia came up last Fall, and we wanted to go, we’d never been to Australia, and we ended up hooking up with a co manager down there by the name of Geoff Trio who kind of manages our band down there in Australia with our manager in Canada Larry Wanagas and he really liked our band and brought us down and just started booking us gigs around Australia and we had a lot of fun. The was in September of last year and it went pretty good, the crowds were modest but enthusiastic and then we decided we were going to give it another shot in February of this year and we just went down and just played residency gigs in Sydney and just played basically 5 nights a week all over Sydney and started to get a little bit of a following and then we got a single added to a radio station Triple M and that seemed to do pretty good and that seemed like a good time to come back especially if there’s a little bit of visibility with the radio and what not and that’s sort of how it started.
You’re now heading back in September / October for a new run of shows, what can fans expect this time around compared to the previous dates?
I think we’ve been on the road a lot even since then so our show’s getting pretty tight, pretty good, you know it’s always good but getting even better and I think, we’re always really enthusiastic to play and we always have a great time live, and I think you can just expect a good time.
You’re doing a mix of rock shows and acoustic shows while in OZ, how much different is an acoustic show compared to your full blown rock show?
Well the full blown rock show is just a lot more raw energy, the acoustic show is more listenable ha ha, it’s just more laid back, it focuses more on the songs and the arrangements and the harmonies and in the electric show it’s a lot more visceral, its all about rocking and we’re trying to combine both elements into one show now as opposed to having one acoustic show and one electric show, trying to have both during the gigs, that would be pretty awesome. We like doing both of them, obviously the acoustic show is a lot easier on our ears but we like doing both.
And which do you prefer?
It depends where we’re at, right now I’m really tired, I was just in Los Angeles the last 3 days playing, we played a really loud rock show at the Viper Room last night and I have to play another rock show tonight, and my voice is kind of hurting so I think I’d prefer an acoustic show tonight but I don’t think I have a choice in the matter.
How was the Viper Room show last night?
It was cool man, we’re not a very big band in America but we definitely had a good enthusiastic crowd out and we really brought it, we’re the kind of band that prides itself as being as good in front of 30,000 people as we are in front of 30 people, its like we don’t differentiate, all shows are go shows, there’s no shows and no show, and we try to bring every time we’re up there even if there’s no body in the bar and so it was like we had a small but good crowd so it was fun.
How is the US market are you still working on that?
Yeah we’re still working on it, I mean some parts of the US really dig us, its just that it hasn’t happened all over the US yet and that’s frustrating but it’s also a reality we just deal with and still try to have fun and still try to make good music and still try to turn people on with our shows.
Hope & Ruin has been out for 4 months now, how has the reaction been to it?
Up here it’s been great, the album’s got a vibe to it, sometime I think a bit of a melancholy vibe, I always kind of understand an album in hindsight, I’d be like, wow, I was obviously going through something when we made that album and you don’t realise at the time because you’re just making and album and writing songs and they just end up a certain way. The reaction has been great and the singles have done really well up here and the crowds are certainly different so we’re happy.
The album is such a great mix of songs and I found it hard to compare it to anyone else which is a good thing, but if you had to site some influences, who would they be?
Our influences? We’re a very eclectic band, I think maybe because we’ve been doing it so long and we just get bored easily and we just want to make whatever kind of music we’re feeling at the time you know and sometimes I’m really just into folk music and singer songwriter music and you know like some days I’ll want to listen to Louden Wainwright the 3rd and REM and other days I’ll want to listen to Nirvana or Black Flag or Black Sabbath or Metallica, we’re kind of a schizophrenic band, maybe we’re schizophrenic people ha ha I think that we just bore easily and it’s our main gig so we just pour everything in to it and results may vary.
How did you get involved with Gord Sinclair from the Tragically Hip who produced the new album?
He’s been a long time friend of the band, we’ve always really liked Gord, he’s an extremely talented person but also very kind person and we’ve always liked him and he used to come to our gigs forever, he’d come to Kingston and we’d invite people out to the gig and he’d always come out, and we were always really big tragically hip fans so having him come out was a really big deal for us as we always looked up to his band and he just hung out and hung out and last year he called my brother and said, if you guys want to come out to the studio, they own a studio out of Kingston Ontario called The Bathouse, he said if you guys want to come out and do some demos, the studio is free and if you don’t mind I’ll just hang around and see what you guys are up to and we can jam or collaborate or whatever, ok that sounds cool. We went out there and started jamming and he picked up a guitar and just started jamming with us and next thing you know we were hashing out song arrangements and getting ready to record, it was really awesome and we ended up making this really organic album, so yeah.
I have to ask, I read you toured with the likes of The Stones, KISS, Robert Plant, Guns N Roses and more. Not bad company to be in, how many times a day do you kick yourself when you’re playing with bands of that calibre?
No, we have never toured with Bad Company, ha ha I’m just kidding. Oh it’s amazing you know, we spend all our time just wanting to be a band like that so we’re really happy for us but when we see someone that’s so great we just try to work harder to be that you know, so it’s a combination of being obviously it’s awesome to rub shoulders with people you grew up admiring them and you’re like ‘wow man, they’re so good, we better work harder.’ One of the people we just toured with I thought was amazing was Kid Rock, he is an amazing live performer and he’s someone I never really listened to before touring with him and we ended up doing an arena tour with him up in Canada and he was just incredible , just such a great performer and he made us really wan to step up our game and so it’s a combination of being like ;’Oh my god I can’t believe I’m meeting Robert Plant’ and also at the same time like ‘Oh my god I can’t believe we haven’t written a song as good as ‘Going To California’ yet’ and so it’s humbling and its cool and its every feeling you could imagine meeting someone that inspired you to pick up a guitar. That’s pretty heavy.
Did you pick up anything from these artists that you now use with the band?
Especially with Kid Rock, we’ve never really watched ourselves or anything and he was taping, like he had a big entertainment system back stage while we were playing and he really liked our band and he couldn’t come out and watch us, he’s such a famous guy that it’d be hard for him to stand out in the crowd, so he’s would be watching our shows backstage on a TV and he would give us a DVD of our show every night so we would go back on to the bus and driving to the next gig we’d watch our show you know and it was a great way to improve and there’s no better critic of yourself then yourself because otherwise you’re relying on very subjective feedback, either the person is very drunk and everything sounds good or the person hates you for some reason besides your music, just doesn’t like that style which isn’t objective either, so we can sit back and criticise ourselves and be happy with things as well and better our show. We’d watch nightly, every night and watch ourselves get better and that was really cool.
With almost 10 years together as a band, looking back is there a defining moment that stands out?
Yeah I mean, we got called to open for The Rolling Stones in 2005 for a private show at The Phoenix in Toronto which is a club that only holds 1,000 people and it was amazing, and we watched sound check and I stood in front of Mick Jagger and he sang ‘Dead Flowers’ and ‘Sway’ and that was pretty amazing and that meant a lot to us for sure. The other time I remember being on Much Music when we were younger. Much Music is like our MTV and they told us that our single was number one in the country and that was on national television and that was a cool feeling and yeah, so, these are the kind of moments that you keep dear.
Just lastly, do you have a message for your Australian fans?
Come on out to the gigs and keep coming out so we can keep coming back because we love Australia and I feel like there’s a kinship between us Canucks and you Aussie’s so I’d love to see you come out to the gigs and have more and more reasons to come back.
Band Members: Colin MacDonald – Vocals, John-Angus MacDonald – Guitar, Jack Syperek – Bass, Sean Dalton – Drums
Latest Release: Hope & Ruin (Bumstead Productions / MGM)
THE TREWS AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES: September/October 2011
Wednesday 14th September 2011: The Great Northern – Newcastle NSW
Thursday 15th September 2011: The Brass Monkey – Cronulla NSW (Acoustic show)
Friday 16th September 2011: Old Manly Boatshed – Manly NSW
Saturday 17th September 2011: Sydney Fringe Festival, Notes Live – Newtown NSW
Sunday 18th September 2011: Beaches – Thirroul NSW
Thursday 22nd September 2011: Jive – Adelaide SA
Friday 23rd September 2011: Cherry Bar – Melbourne VIC
Saturday 24th September 2011: Cherry Bar – Melbourne VIC
Sunday 25th September 2011: Cherry Bar – Melbourne VIC
Wednesday 28th September 2011: The Great Northern – Newcastle NSW
Thursday 29th September 2011: The Vault – Windsor NSW (Acoustic show)
Friday 30th September 2011: Old Manly Boatshed – Manly NSW
Saturday 1st October 2011: The Brass Monkey – Cronulla NSW (Acoustic show)
Thursday 6th October 2011: Byron Bay Brewery – Byron Bay NSW
Friday 7th October 2011: The Zoo – Brisbane QLD
Saturday 8th October 2011: Spotted Cow – Toowoomba QLD
Wednesday 12th October 2011: The Great Northern – Newcastle NSW
Thursday 13th October 2011: The Brass Monkey – Cronulla NSW (Acoustic show)
Friday 14th October 2011: Old Manly Boatshed – Manly NSW
Saturday 15th October 2011: The Gaelic Club – Sydney NSW