Trew Grit: The Trews continue U.S. questWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
When Canadian rockers The Trews played at Frankie’s in January on its quest to gain more fans in the States, the band took a piece of Toledo with it on the rest of the tour.
“I had a friend in Canada that called me up and wanted me to pick him up two jars of [Tony Packo’s] pickles,” The Trews’ singer and guitarist Colin MacDonald explained. “It was at the beginning of our tour, and I had to carry two f*****g giant jars of pickles around with me on every stop of the tour until I got back to Canada because it was so cold at night I was scared that they would freeze and the jars would crack open in the van.”
On May 11, The Trews will be back in T-Town for another show at Frankie’s, but not just for the pickles.
“It wasn’t a sellout, but it definitely felt packed and it felt good,” MacDonald said of the Frankie’s gig. “I know there was a few Canadians mixed amongst the locals for sure, but it felt pretty good and that’s why we’re going back.”
Since November of 2011, The Trews has had more than 30 U.S. tour dates as it tries to build the following here that it has in its native Canada, where the band has had two gold albums, a gold digital single, two No. 1 and 12 top 10 singles.
Rounded out by MacDonald’s brother John-Angus MacDonald (guitar), their cousin Sean Dalton (drums) and longtime friend Jack Syperek (bass), The Trews decided to get in a van and book its own shows after losing its U.S. agent and having difficulty finding someone else in the States to take a chance on the band.
“It’s been all right,” MacDonald said of the U.S. shows. “It’s still slow and steady. I mean, we’re starting to get better crowds. It’s like it’s growing incrementally. It’s not the easiest route that we’re taking, but we still have faith.”
And while hopping in a van and going town to town is not the route one would expect from a band that has shared the stage with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, KISS, Ace Frehley, Guns N’ Roses and Kid Rock, The Trews welcome the experience.
“I love it,” MacDonald said. “I think the music business is going that way for most bands anyway. I mean, there’s just not a lot of money left in this business, period, you know? I think the only bands that are going to stick around are the ones that are willing to get in the van and drive across the country to play for people.
“We’ve certainly experienced some of the luxuries, like having a tour bus and flying to gigs and stuff. But we don’t mind rolling up our sleeves and getting in the van and going to work.”
MacDonald attributed The Trews’ collective work ethic to the band members coming from working class families, where “working hard is a virtue.” The Trews’ journey to this point has been a testament to that, too, as the Toronto-based group has played nearly 1,000 shows to date.
“Our thing has always been we decide when we have a good show, not the crowd,” MacDonald said. “If we’re having a great night in front of 10 people, it’s still a great night by us. On the same token, I mean, we could be in front of 8,000 people and have a terrible night.
“We judge ourselves by our own musical standards, and I think that helps us get through the nights that aren’t so packed because we’re doing it for the music.”
And that musical standard The Trews has set for itself is continuing to receive recognition. The band’s latest effort in fourth full-length album “Hope & Ruin” took home the award for “Rock Recording of the Year” at the 2012 ECMA (East Coast Music Association) Awards, a major music event in Canada which showcases and honors the music of Atlantic Canada.
For a band that emerged from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and went on to gain national recognition in its homeland, continuing to build its U.S. fan base is a welcomed challenge for The Trews.
“It’s definitely giving us our fighting spirit,” MacDonald said. “We tend to think, like, when we go to America, we just forget any of the success we’ve had in Canada. It really is like starting anew, and you’ve got to fight like a young band.”
On May 11, The Trews will headline a show that also features The Ryan Michaels Band, I Of Radio and Halero at Frankie’s, located at 308 Main St. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door the night of the show. Advance tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, as well as locally at Culture Clash Records ((419) 536-5683) and Ramalama Records ((419) 531-7625). Doors open at 9 p.m. and all ages are welcome. For more information, visit frankiesinnercity.com.