Although they are in the midst of putting the finishing touches on a brand new studio record, Toronto-via-Antigonish band The Trews is taking a break from the studio. The group is headed to Metro Moncton to play a show in conjunction with the Touchdown Atlantic festivities on the Lotto Max, Molson Canadian Mainstage on Saturday September 25.
From his home in Toronto, Trews guitarist John-Angus MacDonald says that the making of their still-untitled record was a little different than past efforts. Recorded at The Tragically Hip’s Bathhouse Studios outside of Kingston, what was supposed to be a songwriting and demoing session turned into a full-fledged album recording almost by accident.
“We knew it was time to start thinking about making a new record but in the past, we have always had more of a plan together when we would start recording,” MacDonald says.
“This record was much more spontaneous. We would write a song in the morning and put it on tape in the afternoon or the evening. I think we have been guilty of over thinking songs in the past but the atmosphere at the Bathhouse almost gave us a creative re-birth in a number of ways. We were living and writing together and songs just ended up be turned out quickly. There were such great vibes there,” he says.
With production help from The Hip’s Gord Sinclair, The Trews recorded a total of 16 tracks for their new record with 12 of those tracks bound to make the final cut. With a release date of February 2011 currently penciled in for their newest record, fans will just have to sit tight until that time.
Not that Trews fans have been without anything to tide them over since their last record however. Although the group’s last studio record (No Time For Later) was released more than two years ago, October 2009 saw the release of Acoustic – Friends & Total Strangers, an acoustic-based record recorded live over two nights at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.
In fact if you’re a Trews fan who can’t wait for their new record to be released, you can blame the somewhat unexpected success of Friends & Total Strangers.
“It is typical for us to tour a record for a year and a half but because of the acoustic record, we ended up stretching out our touring commitments. Demand dictated we continue to promote the acoustic record so we did; what was supposed to be just a couple of months turned into so much more,” MacDonald says.
While some fans might be inclined to believe The Trews acoustic record was an off-the-cuff happening, MacDonald says the band has always played acoustically, just never on such a large scale before.
“We had never toured acoustically before although we have always done acoustic-styled shows, especially before the band really took off. There is no question that we’ve become known for playing electrically but we wanted to add a new dimension to what people think we do.
“Plus, the acoustic tour allowed us to really explore our entire catalogue and play some material that we had never played live. That in itself was exciting to be able to not only play ‘the hits’.”
The Trews most recent release is the “Highway Of Heroes” single, a song composed by vocalist-guitarist Colin MacDonald after the passing of Canadian Forces soldier Nichola Goddard in Afghanistan. A high school friend of both John-Angus and Colin, Goddard was the first female soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan. The song title itself is a reference to a stretch of the 401 Highway that runs between Trenton and Toronto, Ontario where fallen soldiers travel once they have been repatriated.
“Antigonish is such a small place, everybody knows everybody. We went to high school with Nichola and she used to book us shows way back when.
“There is a book on her life coming out next month and last year, the author of the book was in Antigonish speaking with different people and my mother was one of those he spoke with. In speaking with our mother about Nichola’s life, Colin specifically was inspired to write the ‘Highway Of Heroes’ song,” MacDonald says.
“We had originally started playing the song as a part of the acoustic shows we were doing it and by the end of the tour, the song had become a bit of a sensation. Rather than wait to put the song on our next record, we decided to release a single of it.”
All proceeds from both the electronic and physical sale of “Highway Of Heroes” will be donated to the Hero Fund, a charitable organization dedicated to supporting military personnel and their families.
The Trews upcoming show in Metro Moncton will be their only regional appearance until November, when they return to play a couple of acoustic concerts in other cities in the Maritimes. Although MacDonald says the band wants to lay low until their new album is released next year, the band certainly has a full plate of work ahead of them:
They are heading to Australia for nine shows in October before returning to Canada and resuming their acoustic concert tour in Winnipeg on October 21.
Although the Trews do not yet have an album released in Australia, MacDonald says that their first album for Australian audiences will actually be a compilation of material from their first three studio records.
“We are a new band to audiences in Australia so going this route and taking tracks from all of our records felt like the most appropriate thing to us. It makes sense to give audiences a taste of all of our material, rather than overwhelming them with three individual records.” he says.