John-Angus McDonald is clear about The Trews’ mission.
“We love playing, we love playing for people, we love making music and writing songs,” said McDonald.
With the release of Time Capsule, the veteran, Canadian rock and roll band is taking a look at their past successes even as they prepare to push forward with an all-new album.
“We’re calling it a best loved (album). It is 16 of our best songs from over the past 15 years and four new songs. We made that a stipulation of putting this album out, we wanted to put new material on it to signify that we are not, in any way, shape or form heading home just yet,” said McDonald.
“We are eager to get back to the studio for the next record.”
Before that happens, the quartet of John-Angus, his brother Colin, Jack Syperek and Gavin Maguire are heading out on tour for Time Capsule, with 30 shows in Canada, starting out in Victoria and heading east, ending up in Nova Scotia, where it all began.
“In 1996, I was 15. We were rehearsing in my grandmother’s basement in Antigonish, NS,” said McDonald. “The hardest obstacle was geography. There is not a lot of population in Nova Scotia. Once you have played all the towns … there is nowhere else to play. You have to drive quite a ways to the major centres.”
In 2002, The Trews made there way to Southern Ontario, determined to devote themselves to their carreer.
“We had a ‘no dayjobs’ pact when we set out from Nova Scotia,” said McDonald. “We played our asses off. We were playing all over the place constantly and busking when we weren’t doing that, writing songs when we weren’t doing that. That was our lives for a couple of years.”
Now, after five studio albums and 16 Top 10 hits, McDonald said they ares as eager as ever to make music and perform.
“There is always new things to discover, new things to do. You never run out of that, and if you do, I think it is probably time to head home,” he said. “We still really enjoy what we do. The best part of it is the 90 minutes on stage. The other 23 and a half hours are spent either getting you there or preparing you for that.”
McDonald said that is their goal at the end of every day, to bring their best performance. During long tours, he explained, there is a “language” that emerges when the band is on stage.
“The band starts playing really well and really intuitively, effortlessly. Those are the things I would miss terribly,” he said. Quoting Bono of U2, McDonald said they are trying to be the best band in the world with every show.
“As Bono said, that can happen to any band any night. If you are really involved in the moment with your audience and they are there with you, you can be the best band in the world,” said McDonald.
“As briefly as it might last – it might be a handful of songs, it might be one, it might be the whole night – As soon as you go back to your dressing room, you are John-Angus from Antigonish, you are just another dude, but for those brief moments when the magic happens … That is what we are going for. It is nothing shy of the most ambitious thing in the world.”
The Trews come to The Mule in Penticton on Nov. 11 for a 7 p.m. show. Expect to hear some of the band’s biggest hits, including Not Ready To Go, So She’s Leaving and Highway of Heroes — also bringing out some fresh recordings including Beautiful and Tragic, Lotta Work/Little Love, Sing Your Heart Out and Chinese Kites.
You might also get a taste of new material being prepared for The Trews’ next studio album. McDonald said they have been treating audiences this summer to a taste of the songs they are stockpiling.
“Live is a great way to test a song out, see if it has legs,” he said.