author: ethan butterfield | a&c writer
Banding with Butterfield talks to the band before their upcoming Regina show.
Banding with Butterfield returns for the second-to-last time this semester with a very special interview with Canadian rock band, the Trews! Originating out of Nova Scotia, I had a chance to talk with lead guitarist John-Angus MacDonald about origins, Canada, and the industry.
You put out an acoustic album along with your other works. Do you enjoy playing acoustic shows or rock shows more?
Personally, I like the electric show better. I like being on my feet and we sit on stools when we play acoustic, so I prefer being able to move around. I find it is more fun, but I appreciate what people get out of the acoustic show. You know, it is so much easier to hear the songs, the lyrics, the harmonies. Volume can mask a lot of things, so when you take that volume away, then the purity of what is going on comes through. So I get why people like going to see the acoustic show, and I like playing them, too. It is just, a much more relaxed thing; we play earlier, we are done earlier, and it is not as much impact on you physically. I enjoy doing it every couple of years, but our main thing is still doing the electric show.
Are there any songs that you particularly enjoy playing?
Yeah, there are certain songs that I always look forward to playing when they come up, like “Oblivion” from our EP that we put out in 2012. That is a great live song and it gives me a chance to stretch out as a lead guitarist. Then there are some better known songs like “Tired of Waiting” that are always fun to play. That is an arrangement that is sort of ever-changing, so we are constantly tweaking things with that one and, yeah, it is fun and another good one to play.
You just put out your new compilation album, Time Capsule, recently. Do you have any new music planned?
No, just about a month ago we put out Time Capsule, which was like a “best of” album that has four new songs on it, including our current single which is called “Beautiful and Tragic,” and that has done well. We are out doing this tour, promoting that release. All the while, we have been writing new songs; we have a backup of about 20 or so songs that are ready to go. We are just looking for the right circumstance to record them, or whether it be the right producer to link up with, the right studio to hit, you know. It will be soon. I think that the record will be made in the first part of next year, like the first few months, and we will release it shortly thereafter.
With Remembrance Day recently passing, the band put out an amazing song called “Highway of Heroes.” What was it like putting out that song and seeing the reaction?
We were pleasantly surprised by the reaction, by the impact it had. When we wrote it, we knew that we had a special kind of song on our hands. It was immediate, when we started playing it live, people were having a great reaction to it and it really spoke to people….The other thing we knew is that we did not want to appear like we were milking it, like milking the plight of soldiers or the tragedies that have been suffered. So we decided that we would not put it on a record, that we would release it as a single. We partnered up with the Canada Hero Fund to donate the proceeds from the sale of the single and provide financial assistance to the families of the fallen soldiers. We were just kind of careful about it, so that was always on our minds, because of the people that it impacted. But it took off in an incredible way and we raised all kinds of money for the Hero Fund and we still do that. Again, it is one of those songs where we rarely do not play it, people want to hear it everywhere we go. So I guess we were surprised by the impact that it had, and we were glad that it was well received, and not perceived as us trying to get ahead by milking the story of personal tragedy…It was inspired by Nichola Goddard’s death in 2006 in Afghanistan, being the first female to fall in that war. She was from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where we are from. We went to high school with her, so we knew her…and it kind of grew from there. So, yeah, I guess we were pleasantly surprised by how it was perceived.
What does the future hold for ‘The Trews’?
We are going to make a new record right after this tour is done. We also have a tour booked into the States early next year. So, we are busy enough; we do not really think past like a year and a half, you know. Our brains are sort of training to think in terms of an album and a tour, and then writing and then another tour, so we do not want to get too far ahead of ourselves. But life is good, we are happy and healthy and making good music. Then the new stuff we are writing, I am proud of, so plenty more to come for sure.
So, there it is! Make sure you check out the Trews at their upcoming show at the Casino Regina Show Lounge on Nov. 24!