HAMILTON, ONTARIO: A group which got its start in the Strait area, and achieved national and international fame, is fighting back against the global pandemic.
The Trews – which consists of leader singer Colin MacDonald, lead guitarist John-Angus MacDonald and on bass Jack Syperek from Antigonish, as well as drummer Chris Gormley and keyboardist Jeff Heisholt – has released a new video for the new single “I Wanna Play.”
According to a press release by Cadence Music Group, the song is a “pandemic anthem,” capturing what people have been feeling since the world came to a halt.
“This is our song for the lonely in the strangest time in recent history,” Colin MacDonald noted. “A musical longing for understanding, meaning and emotional release. It’s also just a really catchy and anthemic rock jam that we’re all really excited about.”
In the release, John-Angus MacDonald said this is a song written and recorded for, during, and about this strange, unusual and unprecedented time and the toll it took on everyone’s collective psyches.
“It’s called a pandanthem,” MacDonald joked. “We didn’t intend for it to land that way but we were writing about what we were going through. What we’ve been through this last year, which I think people can relate to because we’ve all had our lives called off or put on hold; a lot of plans shuttered and shelved. For us, we not only lost our livelihood but we lost our outlet, our means of expression which is playing live and connecting with people, the very thing we live for and have lived for a long time. We watched it all go away, and this song is a reflection of that.”
Not just echoing angst, John-Angus said the song is also about finding light at the end of the tunnel.
“I guess it’s clutching victory from the jaws of defeat; trying to find a silver lining to all of this, maybe we did a little bit of that with this song,” he said. “I think it’ll take a little more than a global pandemic to stop us. Our career has been going strong for 20 years so I couldn’t see folding the tent. I just couldn’t imagine letting something like that win.”
John-Angus said if not for COVID-19, their next full length release was supposed to be complete last April. After the lockdown, he said it took six months to get back on track, and once public health restrictions were lifted, the band was able to do hold writing sessions in the late summer and fall. The current restrictions in Ontario have since given them another six months of song writing, he said.
“I think there were at least four songs that wouldn’t have been written, so one of those was ‘I Wanna Play,’” John-Angus explained. “It was basically Colin lyrically voicing all of our collective frustration at what this past year has done to our livelihoods, and to our job, and our industry, and all that stuff.”
These songs will be part of a new LP, and the group is hoping to release singles throughout the summer.
“We haven’t picked a name, we haven’t finished mastering the record, we haven’t picked a release date, so all those things will have to come together, but I think the general target is put out a full-length record in the fall,” John-Angus said.
Filmed in Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre, the press release said the video has the band sneaking into the stadium to play some music together at center ice.
“That was a great undertaking; using Copps Coliseum in Hamilton to perform in was great, very grand setting and it really spoke to the song, so that was really fun,” John-Angus recalled.
The Trews are not immune to the effects of Ontario’s Stay-at-Home order as their livestream show on April 3 at The Horseshoe was cancelled, then subsequent attempts to reschedule for May were also called off. John-Angus said the tentative date is June 19.
“Even livestreaming has been problematic so it’s been a year of trying to do whatever we can,” he said. “Last summer that involved doing the odd drive-in concert, doing a lot of broadcasting directly from our social media to our fans, just anyway to stay connected to people.”
Not resigned to their fate, the band pivoted towards weekly Instagram Live sessions, as well as using the membership-based platform Patreon.
“So we plot forward and our fans seem to be there with us every step of the way and supporting us in every way they can,” John-Angus said. “We have some of the best fans a band could ask for. They keep our spirits high, and they keep us looking towards the future, and hoping for a day when we can all get together again in the same room and sing together.”
As for the summer, The Trews hope to tour and perform, as well as return to Nova Scotia.
“Mostly, we want to get down to Nova Scotia to see our families. We have family members down there that we haven’t seen in a year,” he added. “I don’t know what the playing plans are, we would love to play and tour. We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to do some stuff this summer but I’m too afraid to say anything because I feel like everything is so tentative right now.”