The Trews return to Halifax at long last

Jack Syperek (bass), Colin MacDonald (lead vocal, guitar), John-Angus MacDonald (lead guitar), Gavin Maguire (drums). Photo: David Krovblit

The Trews wind down their national tour in Halifax at The Marquee Ballroom on Dec. 16 and 17. It’ll be the rock band’s last stop for the year after touring almost constantly since early 2016.
Colin MacDonald, lead singer, says the foursome looks forward to returning to Halifax for the first time in two years. He remembers the city as the site of the band’s first “big” show.
The then high-school students traveled to the city to play as One Eyed Trouser at the Economy Shoe Shop, owned by bassist Jack Syperek’s father, Victor.
“We packed the place with a bunch of Antigonishers, Vic’s friends, and Patrick Pentland from Sloan came,” says Colin. “We were so star struck. He told [lead guitar] John-Angus [MacDonald] that he wished he could play guitar as well as him when he was our age. We were all blown away.” The next time the band saw such a crowd would be when they became The Trews in the early 2000s.
These days the powerhouse rock band has no problem drawing a crowd.
The band’s latest release, Time Capsule, is a best-of retrospective, plus four new tracks. It’s a portrait of a band that combines the commercial success of two gold-certified records and 16 top 10 singles with a strong fan following.
“We got a list of everything that’s been released as a single and worked back from there,” says Colin. “I wanted to add in songs that have become really big staples for the band and songs that showed a few different sides to us, not just the rock hits.”
John-Angus points to “Highway of Heroes” as one of these. The 2010 iTunes Canada-only release is about the stretch of Ontario highway where people gathered on overpasses to watch and mourn as bodies of deceased soldiers returned from Afghanistan.
“Some of these songs weren’t the biggest splashes, but they all say something about the band in the last 15 or so years,” says John-Angus. “They certainly mean a lot to people.”
The four new songs run the gamut of styles the band is known to slip between.
“We’ve got the really heavy, sludgy rock song that kicks off the whole record, ‘Lotta Work/Little Love’,” Colin says. “Our poppiest song, ‘Beautiful and Tragic’. ‘Chinese Kites’ is our strangest, psychedelic song. It represents everything that we do and points the way forward for the next album.” The band is demoing new songs now and hopes to have the next record out by fall 2017.
Antigonish fan Greg Morrow remembers the band from its days as One Eyed Trouser; he attended high school with them. John- Angus called him the summer before Grade 12 to ask if the band could play the high-school prom. “We’d already booked a video DJ,” Morrow remembers. “We missed out. Right now I could be saying The Trews played my prom.”
Today he’s the news/sports director at Antigonish radio station 101.5 The Hawk, where “Beautiful and Tragic” is getting lots of play. “It’s been a while since the last album, but they just picked up where they left off,” Morrow says. “You’re driving along in the car and you can just blare it.”

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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