By Keith Sharp
There comes a time in most successful band’s careers when they reach to press that reset button. It may be a time when various members drift off to pursue solo careers or a time to release that ubiquitous greatest hits package.
In the case of Antigonish Nova Scotia’s The Trews, their latest `Time Capsule’ re-release package serves a greater purpose than just being a best of. As band members Colin (lead vocals/guitar) and John Angus MacDonald (lead guitar) bassist Jack Syperek and new drummer Gavin Maguire prepare to head out on an extensive 21-date tour of Canadian clubs, theatres and casinos, commencing October 21 at Casino Rama near Orillia Ontario, they wanted to make a musical statement about entering the second phase of their career.
“We didn’t want `Time Capsule’ to be perceived as a bookend of our career as a Greatest Hits band,” explained John Angus as the band prepared to play a surprise concert in the basement of the HMV Record shop in downtown Toronto.”Our biggest fear as we got into making the record was that fans would see it as a stop-gap effort. But we are aware that new people are discovering our music all the time. People come to our shows, see us live and they’ll go “Oh I know that song, I didn’t know The Trews did that one”. We get that all the time.”
So with a new drummer, Gavin Maguire) on board, replacing original stickman Sean Dalton, The Trews felt it was prime time to repackage their back catalogue, add three new songs; “Beautiful And Tragic”, “Chinese Kites” and “Lotta Work/Little Love” as well as one previously unreleased studio track (“Sing Your Heart Out”).
[styled_box title=”The Trews – Beautiful and Tragic” color=”black”][/styled_box]
“I put together the 20 songs on Time Capsule based on how they resonated live,” John Angus explained. “The ultimate test was how the songs played for people and how they reacted to those songs. Interestingly enough, some of the songs that triggered the strongest reactions were not necessarily our biggest hits.”
“Some people see us as a one-dimensional blues-rock band but I wanted to showcase the other side of the band,” John Angus continued. “If you go through our catalogue, you will find a lot of different aspects of our sound. We have ballads and pop songs as well as rock songs so when I compiled the song list I injected songs that showed the band’s full spectrum of sound while giving certain songs that had been passed over previously, another shot at recognition.
Such a song is “Highway of Heroes” a track the band wrote in 2006 to honour Capt Nicola Goddard, the first female Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan who was a former schoolmate of theres. “That song didn’t get much exposure when it came out, it wasn’t on any of our records but we felt strongly enough about it to release it as a single and it’s great that we have another opportunity to expose that track,” John Angus explained.
Yes, the two major hits from that debut `House Of Ill Flame’ released in 2003 and produced by Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson; “Not Ready To Go” and “Tired Of Waiting” kick off the album after one of the three new tracks; “Lotta Work Little Time” and it’s a package that will satisfy the descerning tastes of their most rabid `Trewbadours’ yet should also attract new fans that will be impressed by the band’s fiery live performances.
When it is pointed out to him that Canadian music seems to have gone full cycle and guitar-driven rock bands are now back in vogue again, John Angus claims his band has been too busy surviving to have noticed.
“There’s never been a great plan to keep the band intact,” John Angus confesses. “We have spent so much time on the road constantly touring and if we are not doing that, we have our noses to the grindstone writing and recording new material. “I’d like to say we had a master plan that we set off with in 2002 when we left Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and that we knew we would be around for a second phase, but to us it’s just been a case of working and surviving.”
There have been a number of high points along the way. Having come to the attention of Toronto based Bumstead Productions after winning a local radio station `Rocksearch’ talent contest in St Catherines Ontaro (CHTZ-FM) in 2002, they released their debut album the next year. That set the stage for their second release `Den Of Thieves’ in 2005. Produced by the famous Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon. Cheap Trick), `Den of Thieves’ performed strong enough for The Trews to open for the Rolling Stones’ during their surprise concert at Toronto’s Phoenix Theatre in the summer of 2005 before the Stones’ launched their `Bigger Bang’ Tour. And the Trews also nailed the opening slot for Robert Plant’s solo Canadian tour later that year pushing their release to gold record status (over 50,000 units sold).
The Trews have also opened for Bruce Springsteen at Moncton’s Magnetic Hill venue in August 2012 and in September 2014 opened for Aerosmith and Slash at the Cape Fest concert in Sydney Nova Scotia. Yet hasn’t always been easy for the band. Their 2008 `No Time For Later’ and 2011 `Hope And Ruin’ releases received strong radio support but only marginal consumer response so The Trews began to tour as an acoustic act, releasing three live records as they penetrated smaller venues.
Their self-titled 2014 release indicated a turnaround, reaching No 3 on the domestic charts and the departure of original drummer Sean Dalton, due to personal reasons is viewed as a positive move with the arrival of Gavin Maguire.
“Sean left the band due to some personal issues, Gavin came in mid-tour and it turned into a really positive situation for us,” noted John Angus. “We had developed a lot of old habits with our performances, but Gavin provided a new edge, new energy. And when we recorded the three new songs, he provided such a refreshing input that his performance was contageous.”
Time Capsule’s three new songs also exhibit a variety in the band’s different styles. While Lotta Work Little Love bears the band’s distinctive blues rock trademarks, “Chinese Kites” boasts a more modern pop sound whilst the record’s debut single “Beautiful And Tragic” featuring a vocal duet with Serena Ryder is infused with a contageous Celtic instrumental arrangement. Add to this the previouslu unreleased anthemic “Sing Your Heart Out” and you have a collection of gems from their past catalogue which provides an exclaimation point on their creativity as The Trews entert the next phase of their career.
A phase that will be motivated by their Canadian tour in November and December with key stops in Vancouver at The Commodore Ballroom, Nov.11th, Calgary Marquee, Nov.18th, Winnipeg Burton Cummings Theatre, Nov.26th and the Toronto Phoenix Theatre Dec.10 before wrapping up their itinerary Dec. 16 at the Halifax Marquee Ballroom. Next on the agenda is a full scale U.S invasion set to launch next June and July.
“With this tour, it’s going to be so much fun, reaching into our catalogue and continually freshening up our set list,” informed “John Angus. “We’ll still play our hits but we are looking forward to also playing songs we haven’t played before. And now we have a new drummer (and touring keyboardist Jeff Heisholt) to increase our energy level . One thing is for sure , with a Trews’ performance, we never phone it in.”
For further information on the band’s future tour schedule, please link to www.trewsmusic.com