Just like the fighting Gallaghers of Oasis or The Kinks’ Ray and Dave Davies, Canadian hard-rock hopefuls The Trews have had their sibling squabbles. So far, however, they’ve managed to keep them from escalating into the kind of full-blown civil wars that can tear brothers in bands apart.
"At this point, the whole band is like a family," says Trews singer/guitarist Colin MacDonald, whose brother, Angus, also plays guitar in the band. "Sean [Dalton] plays the drums and our bass player, Jack [Syperek], has been a friend since childhood. It can get pretty tense out on the road, but we get over fights pretty quickly. We’ve spent more time together over the past 10 years than most families do in a lifetime, so we all know each other way too well."
Familiarity has not bred enough contempt to derail one of the strongest young hard-rock outfits working today. Drawing power from the finest ’70s rock anthems of AC/DC, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Humble Pie, while adding a touch of alt.-country twang and blowing a Hammond B3 fog through the air, The Trews have fashioned a thrilling, cock-sure sound that’s familiar yet wholly their own on their most recent album, No Time For Later. Take the enigmatic, sort of mystical Southern jangle-pop of early R.E.M. and blast it with the cosmic, R&B-infused rock of the Black Crowes, and you start to get a sense of what The Trews are all about. Inject it all with a dose of heavy acid-rock, the kind Blue Cheer conjured up back in the day, and that’s when the fun really starts.
"We grew up listening to all those bands and when it comes time to write, I guess we can’t help but share those bands’ musical sensibilities," explains Colin. "We spend a lot of time working on our craft so we make sure none of the songs are ripped off from anyone. What sounds good to us just so happens to be in a similar vein to all those bands."
Born into a hippie household, the MacDonald family was a rolling stone that gathered no moss. In fact, the brothers spent their teenage years in the Caribbean. It was in 1995, while living in Barbados, that they decided to form a band. Despite their Canadian roots (the band originated in Nova Scotia), The Trews somehow acquired a rock ‘n’ roll Southern accent somewhere along the way. How they came to absorb so many of their classic-rock influences is less of a mystery.
"My dad grew up in the ’60s, so before I learned to walk I knew most of the Sgt. Pepper album and the first Doors record," says Colin. "He was a really big rock ‘n’ roll fan, and he turned us on to everything from Bob Dylan to Led Zeppelin. Rock ‘n’ roll was religion in our household."
The education proved invaluable, and the MacDonalds — along with cousin Sean Dalton on drums and friend Jack Syperek on bass — have became missionaries spreading the gospel. Winning a Southern Ontario radio station’s Rock Search contest in 2002 was the initial boost The Trews needed to take their career to the next level. They caught the ear of Big Sugar singer Gordon Johnson, who went on to produce their self-titled EP and brought them out on tour with his band.
Sony Music Canada came into the picture a year later, and The Trews recorded their first full-length, House Of Ill Fame, for the label. Afterward, The Trews toured hard and long, doing some 400 shows over the next few years. As a reward, they captured the 2005 Canadian East Coast Music Award for Group of the Year honors. Building on that momentum, The Trews banged out Den Of Thieves in 2006.
While the electrified crunch of those records earned them a reputation for hair-singing hard-rock and gave cause for those in the know to dub them a band to watch out for — with even Alice Cooper singing their praises by calling them "A great y