FIRST LISTEN: Stream The Trews’ New Album PLUS In-Studio Interview

by | Apr 17, 2014 | Music Production

We are super stoked to be premiering the new Trews album today in its entirety! Stream it below, and read our interview with guitarist John-Angus MacDonald about the making of the LP, due out digitally in the States next week (Tuesday, April 22nd via Nettwerk). You’ll also find full tour dates below – The Trews are NOT to be missed live. Enjoy, and turn it up!!

For more of Performer Mag’s past coverage of the Trews, click here.

In The Studio with John-Angus MacDonald of THE TREWS


What was your pre-production like on this project?

We began writing for this record in January of 2013 at our rehearsal space in Toronto. We wrote and demoed there on and off until about May when we started looking for a producer. Once we settled on Gavin  [Brown] it was just a matter of wading through the 30+ demos we had and whittling them down to a list of about 12 that we all felt were the strongest.

How did you choose the studio?

Gavin works almost exclusively at Noble these days. He’s very comfortable with the setup there and has it running like clockwork. It’s a great studio so it was a no-brainer.


What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it? 

We wanted it to sound big and heavy at moments and stripped down and intimate at others. At the end of the day, you want the songs and recordings to leave you with some kind of feeling, so you do whatever it takes to achieve the feeling.

How does it compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process?

The creative process was completely different. For Hope and Ruin we wrote in the studio and recorded as we went. It was a different atmosphere out at Bath. We had, what felt like, limitless studio time to develop the ideas. On this record the songwriting and recording were like church and state – totally separate.


Did you use any special gear or recording techniques on this one?

We used a lot of delays and reverbs on the guitar to create sonic tapestries that ran in the background throughout many of the songs. We were combining two rack-mounted Line 6 delay units with analog Fender Space echo units and other reverbs. We would multi-track several performances of harmonics, feedback and loops to create layers of spacy-ness. It was really fun to do and was something I don’t normally do on guitar.

What was your philosophy on live, full-band takes versus individual tracking?

We tracked everything live off the floor but with complete sonic isolation which gave us the option to fix things and/or redo any element of the performance. That way at the core of every track you have live performance no matter how many overdubs or fixes you end up doing.

Any special guests?

We had Serena Ryder come in to sing on a song called “In the Morning.” She is such an amazing singer and it really added a lot.

We also had Anne Bourne come in to play cello on three songs. For “65 Roses” and “In the Morning” she created an ambient tapestry to go with the guitars by overdubbing multi performances on long, drawn-out notes of harmony and unison notes that run throughout the tracks. For “Living the Dream” she played a more classical “Beatles” style.

trews colin

What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?

For us they are completely different animals. I like to use the analogy of a play verses a movie. Playing live is like performing in a play where you have one chance to get it right and there’s a unique energy and exhilaration to each performance. Recording is much more like making a movie where you can work away at each element until you feel you’ve gotten the emotion right.

A play is gone forever after it is performed once and all you have left is your memory of it – or camera-phone video : ) – whereas a movie has to hold up to the scrutiny of closer inspection and repeated viewings.


Any interesting stories from the sessions that you’ll be telling for a while?

We funded this record using Pledge Music and one of the items up for grabs was handclaps and gang vocals. One night, towards the end of the session, we had a group of about a dozen friends and fans come in and record handclaps and gang vocals on about six songs. It was a ton of fun to watch these people record in a studio for the first time and everyone was a good enough singer that we kept everything we recorded – it’s what you hear on the record!


How did you handle final mixing and mastering? 

Lenny Derose, who engineered the record, did the mixes under the supervision of Gavin and myself. The mixes were done in the B room of Noble on an SSL console. Lenny killed it! Mastering also came through Gavin via Peter Letros; he’s a Toronto guy who Gavin uses quiet often.

What are your tour plans?

  • June 4 – Pittsburgh, PA – Hard Rock Café
  • June 5 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern
  • June 6 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
  • June 7 – Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall
  • June 9 – Watertown, NY – The Ballroom @ Savoy Downtown
  • June 10 – Cambridge, MA – Middle East Upstairs
  • June 11 – New York, NY – The Bowery Electric
  • June 13 – Philadelphia, PA – Hard Rock Café
  • June 15 – Washington, DC – DC9
  • June 16 – Columbus, OH – Rumba Café
  • June 18 – Cincinnati, OH – MOTR
  • June 19 – Louisville, KY – The New Vintage Showcase
  • June 28 – Toledo, OH – Frankies Inner-City

Any special packaging?

We’re still in the middle of this but it’s coming along nicely. We’re gonna need a lot of real estate as we’re personally thanking every backer who pledged $100 or more in the liner notes!


For more follow The Trews on Twitter @thetrews


  • TheTrews_CoverArtArtist: The Trews
  • Album: Self-titled
  • Recording Studio: Noble Street Studios, Toronto
  • Record Label: Bumstead Records
  • Producer: Gavin Brown
  • Engineer: Lenny Derose
  • Mastering: Peter Letros
  • Artwork: jd and Garnet Armstrong at re:form [avw] inc., Toronto