The Trews

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Quite possibly one of the most loved and respected Canadian indie bands The Trews recently released their new record '€˜Hope & Ruin'€™ and lucky for me, I had the chance to sit down with lead vocalist Colin of the band last month to discuss everything to do with the new record'€™s writing process which covers where they recorded it, how the collaborative process went for the band and some of the more different places the band has found inspiration.

As well as discussing '€˜Hope & Ruin'€™ we talked about the band'€™s recent time in the US where they have been steadily playing shows and the growth that they have been experiencing due to the natural progression and hard work the band has put into their band. While they may not have the same audience sizes that they have back home in Canada just yet, they are determined to continue trying to break into the states and that does mean that the Northeast has an excellent chance of seeing them here again before the end of the year. Read on for my exclusive with Colin and definitely pick up the new record!

What are like the three things you must have while on the road to survive touring?
The three things you must have while on the road? Lots of water, exercise and a good book!

Perfect then you just put your new CD. How did that process come about?
Well we all went out to a studio outside of Kingston, Ontario called The Bath House. The studio that belongs to The Tragically Hip which is a really famous Canadian band and we just went out there to demo and it just sort of turned into a record just kind of by accident. We were out there jamming and recording and writing. Before we knew it we had a bunch of songs together and it was very organic.

How do you guys normally go about the songwriting process? Is it one person, more collective of a effort, no set rules?
It'€™s become, as we get further and further, more collaborative. Like this last record it was someone would bring in kind of unfinished ideas, everyone brought something to the table and we kind of just worked on it collectively till we had something that sounded like a good tune. It was always a fun way to go about it and we sort of you know the day would kind of start at noon. We would wake up, we would have some coffee and someone would pull out a riff that they got on a tape recorder and then we would all take the best ones, the best ideas and all worked on it. It was really cool and that'€™s the way the whole album was done.

And then has there ever been a really strange or different place the band has found inspiration? Like for a song idea or a song lyric? Or even like a name of a song?
You know they come at different times. For me, it'€™s usually when I'€™m sitting down, it'€™s about hard work which is hard to get back at it when you'€™ve been on the road for a long time. So when you'€™re sitting around for three or four hours, just fiddling around with ideas like writing an okay song then all of the sudden at the end of something a riff comes out and a lyric and I'€™m like '€™Well, that'€™s pretty cool'€™ and then I won'€™t be able to get it finished and then I'€™ll bring it to the band and those tend to be the best ideas for me. Other then that I'€™ve heard a song that really inspired me. For example, the last track on the album is called '€™You Got To Let Me In'€™ and Jack showed me this Townes Van Zandt song called '€™If I Needed You'€™ and I heard that tune and got immediately inspired to write '€™You Got To Let Me In'€™. I thought it was so pretty and I wanted to write a poetic song like that you know and that'€™s how I got the inspiration. So it comes in all different shapes and sizes. You normally try to write a song that you would like and that comes from the music that you are listening to and your inspirations. That'€™s kind of the way it goes.

Being a Canadian band, how have these shows been in the US for you?
We just played in Lewiston, New York last night and it was a free outdoor show and like thousands of people turned up which is great. In New York City, we had a couple hundred people at the Mercury Lounge and that was good. I mean every time we tour in the US, we have a couple hundred people out. It'€™s not as successful as it is in Canada but I don'€™t know what else you can do. I mean we go down, we play great shows and I think we'€™re playing good music and we still have a career up in Canada so we rely on that financially and stuff but hopefully America will come around. It'€™s been a long time but I don'€™t think we'€™ve even really gotten a fair shot at America still. I don'€™t think we'€™ve ever had a real push at radio. It'€™s definitely always an uphill battle but I know tons of great artists in America that haven'€™t gotten their break either and it doesn'€™t make them any less awesome, you know, so we'€™ll keep plugging away and keep booking gigs along the Northeast and just go down and play for whoever wants to come out.

Well that'€™s how you have to do it and then how do your live shows normally go over? Is it really energetic?
It'€™s all about our live shows! People are always saying that we'€™re a pretty awesome live band. Just pretty electric up there and we take a lot of pride in that and we have a lot of fun doing it. It'€™s our favorite way to present the band and we'€™re better at it then recording. I feel like we'€™re really good at being on stage and rocking. Yeah, we'€™ve been like that for a long time growing up in Canada it was like '€™Come see us live'€™ and that'€™s really connected the band.

Perfect and then like you said you worked on this record in The Tragically Hip'€™s studio but maybe who would be like your dream artist to collaborate with?
I'€™d like to play with like Neil Young. You know, Elvis Costello. Like Aerosmith, AC/DC, David Francis he'€™s a great writer and a great folk singer and I have collaborated with him. He'€™s lesser known but he'€™s equally brilliant.

And then you released the video for '€™Hope and Ruin'€™ which is obviously the title track off the record. How did you come up with the concept for that video?
We put it in the hands of the director. He'€™s done a couple of our videos and he'€™s always done a good job. We didn'€™t have a big budget for it. Nobody does because nobody plays videos anymore but you know he just really liked the idea of me walking through these different landscapes. Set behind this concrete jungle and then we used the setting of rural, rural Nova Scotia and kind of like how both settings kind of symbolize hope and ruin. Kind of making up your mind of how you feel. Some people think it'€™s all about cities and it was kind of a bleak thing. A bleak kind of video but I mean what are you going to do? It'€™s January, one of the coldest days on record and it definitely looked it!

Then these are kind of obviously bringing it back and it'€™s a two part question. What was the first CD or cassette you ever bought then the first concert you went to as a kid?
The first CD I ever got was a Guns and Roses album '€™Appetite For Destruction'€™ and first concert I went to was a band called Rawlins Cross. They are this really great celtic band out of Newfoundland and they were the first real big like celtic rock band and it was pretty cool.

And do you think those first musical experiences influenced you at all today? Maybe you personally or The Trews?
I'€™m sure they had something to do with it. My dad was always really into music and he was always encouraging us to play music around the house which was always pretty cool and we just kind of gradually started to say to ourselves you know we should try doing this for a while. Then we just moved away from our hometown and started playing in bars and next thing you know, we had a record deal, management deal, singles on the radio and it started to work pretty good. I mean I'€™m happy.

Then I know you have a bunch of dates right now and you just played a Canada Day festival and everything but maybe what'€™s coming up with in these next few months? Maybe more touring, maybe taking a little break, what'€™s in the plans with the record being so new?
No rest for the wicked. We'€™re going to finish off this summer just with festivals in Canada then we'€™re going to head over to Australia on September 13th to do a month long tour over there and I think we'€™re going to go to the UK after that and then do a handful of American dates and then we'€™ll reassess from there. See what we'€™re feeling!

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