The Trews to play at Frankie’s on Jan. 13Written by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trews might be the most successful band you’ve never heard of, and the four members are working tirelessly to change that.
With two gold albums, a gold digital single, two No. 1 and 12 top 10 singles in Canada and nearly 1,000 shows under their collective belt —including slots with Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, KISS, Ace Frehley, Guns N’ Roses, Nickelback and Kid Rock — the Toronto-based rockers have taken matters into their own hands to make The Trews’ music known stateside by booking shows in the U.S. themselves. One of those stops will be at Frankie’s Inner City on Jan. 13.
“I don’t know, man,” The Trews’ Colin MacDonald said in response to why it’s been hard for his band to pick up steam in the U.S. “It’s a frustrating thing for me because I get tired of kind of defending my band. I just feel like we’re really, really good, and I think a lot of Americans would really love it if they got a chance to kind of come out and see it and get exposed to it. I think it’s a matter of we just haven’t found the right circumstance and place and time in the U.S.
“We haven’t had our quote-unquote ‘break’ there, so we’ve decided, like, we believe in our music enough and we believe in ourselves enough that we’re just willing to get into a van and keep driving around and playing clubs because we believe in what we’re doing, and we think there’s a place for it in the U.S.”
Featuring MacDonald (lead vocals/guitar), his brother John-Angus MacDonald (guitar), their cousin Sean Dalton (drums) and longtime friend Jack Syperek (bass), The Trews formed in 1998 and is touring in support of its fourth full-length studio album “Hope & Ruin,” which came out in April.
The record has received critical acclaim from multiple media outlets, including the distinction of “No. 1 Rock Album of 2011” by Metal Odyssey. But despite the high praise and strong homeland support, the U.S. music industry has not been receptive to The Trews, according to MacDonald.
“Our agent in the U.S. kind of got fired and we just couldn’t find another one,” MacDonald said. “All the business guys seemed to be too scared to take a risk on our band, so we just said, ‘Well, f*** it; we’ll just do it ourselves.’ And we got more gigs at better clubs by just doing it that way than we ever did with any agent down there.”
For “Hope & Ruin,” The Trews retreated to The Bathouse Recording Studio in Bath, Ontario in January of 2010 after being invited by bassist Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip. A serene residence on the shores of Lake Ontario, The Bathouse proved to be the perfect respite to record for the frequently busy band that MacDonald said could sometimes work songs to death.
“There was no thinking involved,” MacDonald said. “We got to a point in our career where we’re like, ‘OK — we’re going to stop trying really hard and we’re just going to start making music that we just want to listen to and we want to play.’ And it was just a sum of all of our different influences. I mean, every song on the record was brought in by a different guy in the band.”
The result was a unified effort The Trews are proud of, something MacDonald attributed to Sinclair.
“It was a very, very collaborative [process], and I credit Gord Sinclair with bringing that kind of team spirit to the whole process because it was kind of like the best idea won,” MacDonald said. “It wasn’t about which guy came up with the idea.”
Constantly trying to improve, the band was also open to advice from Kid Rock while on tour with the Michigan native last spring. Known for his live show, Kid Rock taped The Trews’ set every night and gave the band DVD copies to evaluate its performances.
“We hung out every night after he played,” MacDonald said of Kid Rock. “We just kind of YouTube’d music videos and drank beer. He was really cordial and a really cool guy. We learned a lot from him.”
With the experience and drive to go with its success and talent, The Trews are pressing on stateside, one city and van ride at a time.
On Jan. 13, The Trews and Ryan Dunlap will perform at Frankie’s, located at 308 Main St. in Toledo. Tickets are $6 in advance and $8 the night of the show. Advance tickets can be purchased through all Ticketmaster outlets as well as locally at Culture Clash Records (419) 536-LOVE, and Ramalama Records, (419) 531-ROCK. Doors are at 9 p.m. and all ages are welcome. For more information, visit frankiesinnercity.com.