The Trews

London Music Hall & FM96 Present...

The Trews


Fri, December 9, 2016

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm


This event is all ages

The Trews
The Trews
Judging by the boldness of their choices, you'd never guess the Trews are 10 years, five studio albums and thousands of gigs into their highly celebrated career. Clearly, someone forgot to tell them that bands are supposed to become more predictable as the years go by, not less so.

And yet, evidence of a stubborn refusal to play it safe abounds, most notably in the East Coast-bred, Toronto-based rock squad's eponymous, electrifying new disc, The Trews. It tallies so many firsts that even band members Colin MacDonald, John-Angus MacDonald, Sean Dalton and Jack Syperek cop to being a smidge flabbergasted by their own achievements, 13 Top 10 Canadian radio singles (including two #1s) notwithstanding.

There is, first and foremost, the assured manner in which it was written (through the lens of real life), underwritten (by fan support) and recorded (super-fast alongside marquee producer Gavin Brown). Guests bring flourish – witness Serena Ryder's smoky vocals on 'In the Morning,' a contemplative almost-ballad with lyrics co-written by singer/guitarist Colin MacDonald and his pal, songwriting dynamo Simon Wilcox and buoyed by cellist Anne Bourne's melancholic accompaniment.

Add in the fact that of late the Trews have been piling up the accolades touring acoustically despite being certified rock brawlers and the net result is something you just don't see every day: proverbial old dogs issuing some seriously new tricks.

"I think with every record, you are kind of re-applying for the job," chuckles guitarist John-Angus MacDonald. "There are so many bands out there, so many good ones, the fact that we get to keep going is a privilege. And as much as you get better and wiser with your craft, you still have to be ear-to-the-ground competitive. There is pressure in that."

There are also wicked-cool rewards in that, none greater than the Trews' daring and wildly successful PledgeMusic campaign which offered their loyal fans coveted and highly unique access to the band and its recording process in exchange for financial backing.

Everything from Skype chats to drum lessons, lifetime guest list privileges to adding vocals and hand-claps in-studio to songs like 'New King,' 'The Sentimentalist,' 'Age of Miracles,' and 'Under The Sun' was snatched up by supporters during the roughly year-long PledgeMusic drive.

"It was so much fun bringing fans into the studio, putting 20 people around a microphone," Colin MacDonald enthuses. "This whole campaign was a great way to have an even deeper connection with the people who have been supporting us all these years."

Adds John-Angus MacDonald, "I'd be lying if I said we didn't have some trepidation at the onset. But it was all about the fan experience. We got to tailor those pledges to what we thought our fans might like, and at the end of it, we got to make a record for fans while giving them access they couldn't possibly have had otherwise."

Of course, the whole PledgeMusic exercise would be academic if the Trews weren't making freaking phenomenal rock and roll full of the hairpin stylistic turns you'd expect from four guys who've been playing together daily pretty much all their adult lives.

Take the new album's blazing first single, 'What's Fair Is Fair' which Colin MacDonald describes as "A song I wrote about a relationship falling apart. Sometimes when you cross a line you can't come back."

And then there is the quaking, spit-drenched 'New King,' a biting indictment of bullies on digital pulpits. "We were pissed off and we wrote a song about it. I mean, if you can't use your rock and roll to tell somebody to go shove it," John-Angus MacDonald howls, "what the hell good is it?"

At the other end of the sonic spectrum is '65 Roses,' a song inspired by former Trews booking agent Paul Gourlie, who succumbed to Cystic Fibrosis last May at age 37. It is, says John-Angus MacDonald, an illustration of the band feeling comfortable turning the volume down thanks to their acoustic touring, and an example of the impact producer Gavin Brown (see Metric, the Tragically Hip, Billy Talent) had on the new disc.

"The song '65 Roses' was originally presented as an upbeat and rollicking song but the subject matter is quite sad," the guitarist confirms. "Gavin was really insistent on that song being played as an acoustic number without drums. He saw us performing at Paul's memorial and I don't think he would even consider it being anything else."

Indeed, Brown brought a whole new way of working to bear when he gathered with the Trews – including long-time keyboardist Jeff Heisholt - last fall in their rehearsal space for pre-production before moving the show to Toronto's Noble Street Studios for "a concentrated two-and-half week session with some additional recording in November, mixing in December and mastering in January," Colin MacDonald recalls.

"Gavin takes awesome bands and makes them awesome-r," the singer cracks playfully. "And I think with our band, self-production would be a one-way ticket to divorce. We all respect each other but it's always good to have that sounding board. Gavin is a giant personality who works quickly with such precision. So we entered that orbit and it made for a really interesting time. I'd do it again tomorrow."

"For us, working quickly is a function of having our material together," John-Angus adds, noting that the group amassed some 30 songs between January and May 2013 despite all members "doing a lot of other things. Life was being lived, we were traveling, but I think that fed the writing.

"From there we went about arranging it and making it sound great in the studio which, in my opinion, is much easier than songwriting. With Hope & Ruin" – the Trews' chart-topping 2011 release cut with Hip bassist Gord Sinclair – "we were writing and recording at the same time and that record took seven months. Taking a kind of church and state approach to writing and recording this time worked really well."

"I think we are getting better at pinpointing when a song is good and when it's not," Colin MacDonald says. "That's what happens when you make five albums and tour all the time – you can tell a timeless idea from one that rocks hard but gets old fast. If I have to sing these songs 200 nights a year," he smiles, doubtless envisioning the Trews' itinerary for the foreseeable, "I want them to be good."
Bleeker are steadily building a rock solid name for themselves in their native Canada. With an altered band name and a slightly revamped lineup, Bleeker's aesthetic and work ethic are as sturdy and as unshakable as ever. Musically cross-pollinating the swagger of The Rolling Stones with a psych-tinged groove, Bleeker fall amidst Jet, The Black Keys, and Royal Blood in the alt rock spectrum. What sets them apart is an ever-so-subtle current of loose cannon danger that courses through every riff, every note and every melody in their latest album Erase You.

Plus, they've got time on their side. They aren't a flash in the pain showing up today and lasting through tomorrow, at the latest, before fading into obscurity. No way. Bleeker have clawed their way to the top in their home country. Now, they are ready to sink their sonic hooks into both the ears and hearts of the rest of the world. Consider this your fair warning.

For the boys in Bleeker, there is a jones for writing music that they are compelled to satisfy. They have found the delicate balance that eludes so many musicians and bands. They wrote the entire album Erase You on their own, with the exception of lead single "Highway," which they co-wrote with Matt Squires.

Make no mistake — Bleeker live to play and play to live. But they don't take themselves too seriously and they don't try and force anything; instead, they still approach the art and craft of making music with the same unjaundiced eye as when they were first getting their legs under them. They refuse to get sucked into cynicism or any forced pressures. It's not do or die for them — it's just do! And those are the reasons why Bleeker will prosper as they storm the North American market.

Singer Taylor Perkins said, "If this all ended tomorrow, we'd still be stoked because we got to do so much as a band. Yes, we have other interests besides music. Our guitar player is a skydiving instructor and does extreme things. We all have our thing outside of this. But it's the songwriting that's the passion. My brother Cole and I get together and we write and see what happens."

He furthered, "You cannot let it become a job. You have to look it at the way you did when you started out when you were 13. We never thought of making money. We're were only about making music. We are still doing that. Anything else will make you miserable. If you cannot have fun in rock 'n' roll and music, where can you have fun?"

That is a universal truth.

The Bleeker boys love all the perks of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, from the touring to the partying to the good times. But they've gotten some of that ancillary stuff out of their system. "We went through the bullshit aspect of being in a band, since we've done it for so long," Perkins said. "You know, when we were younger, we were all about stealing booze and having sex with girls."

They've got the life lived, the experience, the know-how, and the fire. And their commitment to the band is 100 percent distraction-free. "We don't have kids and overhead," Perkins said. "There are no crazy ass commitments. We just get up and do our thing. Nothing else conflicts. We are on call all of the time. You can't have any other career if you are going on tour for months at a time."

With their mission firmly in place, the band decamped to producer James Michael's studio in Eagle Rock, California to record the majority of Erase You over the course of two months, only working with one outside producer Matt Squire on the track Highway. This album will define Bleeker's career. It's the album on the back of which they will truly arrive, thanks to songs like "Highway," which resonates with its handclaps and garage pop vibe. It's uptempo from stem to stern and "always in your face." Perkins noted that "it has that lo-fi, old school vibe, but it still has some hooky melodies."

Then there's "I'm Not Laughing Now," which has quite the backstory. Perkins remembers, "I had an old, shitty computer. Six years ago, I recorded it an empty bathtub and used a cereal box for a snare. I went into the bathtub because I had to stomp on the floor to get a bigger boom. It was the best kick I could find in the house. It was a terrible recording and I burned it on CD. It had been called 'Cereal Box.' It went through years of people not hearing it. We copied the demo as much as we could, since it was so simple with a huge, hooky chorus. It's the best song I've ever written."

It's that sort of ingenuity, improvisation, and by-any-means-necessary approach that make Bleeker so unlike their peers. Forget spending millions of dollars on equipment and software to make it sound like millions of dollars weren't spent on equipment and software during the making of this album! Bleeker don't need those sorts of tricks; it's all raw and it's all real on Erase You.

The title track is a riff-driven song and as Perkins says, "Everything drops out and sucks you in. It's a massive chorus that comes out of nowhere." You know, that pretty much describes the whole of Bleeker. Their music and their devil-may-care vibe pull you in, but you don't want to waste time planning an escape. You just… accept it and allow yourself to be further drawn in. That's why they are on a path to explode into worldwide consciousness.
Venue Information:
London Music Hall - CA
185 Queens Ave.
London, ON, N6A 1J1

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