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The Trews Celebrating 20th Anniversary Of First Album With Nova Scotia Tour Dates

A lot has changed in 20 years for The Trews, a rock band that began in Antigonish, N.S. and reached international fame.

And yet, guitarist and founding member John-Angus MacDonald’s unwavering appreciation for his fans remains the same.

As the band continues the 20th anniversary tour of their debut album House of Ill Fame, MacDonald can’t help but look back at the hits, the deep cut tracks, and their resounding popularity.

“It’s pretty humbling to look at how much time has passed. There’s a certain gratitude for the fact we’re still around, and for the fans who keep us here. We still have a hunger to continue doing our best work, and we’re even focused on our next record as we tour the Anniversary Box-Set of the Ill Fame album,” said MacDonald.

The box set came out in November to commemorate the Anniversary, and The Trews will play the album in its entirety at the Marquee in Halifax on March 29th and 30th, 2024, with openers Skunk Motel and Nick Earle & The Reckless Hearts.

“We constantly are getting waves of nostalgia as we travel for this tour. A fan told me the other day about hearing a song from the album from the radio, driving straight to HMV, and having the CD in their discman for weeks. The longevity and connections these songs have with the audience is incredible. It’s so nice to play a show for people who stuck with us for 20 years.”

While Ill Fame hits like crowd-revving ‘Not Ready To Go’ and melodic ‘Tired Of Waiting’ have remained in rotation, this tour gave the band a chance to revisit some songs that haven’t hit their set-list in more than a decade.

“You get sort of bored of playing the hits every night, so playing songs like ‘Confessions’ or ‘Why Bother’ is amazing, and the energy of them is so appealing. They’re very punk-rock tempo wise, and we’re of course noticing our 40-year-old selves getting a little exhausted with those high-tempo rock ones during a set,” he says with a laugh.

“When we were a band touring clubs and bars, we only had a few songs at our disposal, so House Of Ill Fame songs were about grabbing people’s attention. You really recognize the energy and showmanship of those early tracks.”

Not only has the band gotten older – MacDonald now lives in Ontario and has a family – but the music landscape has changed as well.

“We write in living rooms, studios and hotel rooms. We don’t play one record for two years. But we absolutely did that for House Of Ill Fame. It’s just a different process, and it’s been a lot of fun reconnecting to these songs,” he said.

“You look at things like Spotify now, and we can see the analytics and data. It’s been really cool to see the deeper House Of Ill Fame cuts flying up the chart with this tour. We have audience members who may have been too young to see us play these in 2004. It’s so cool that some people in the audience were teenagers when the first album came out, and some are discovering it for the first time.”

MacDonald also highlights venue The Marquee when he discusses longevity, and says it’s a great feeling to finish the tour there.

“If you want to discuss longevity, the Marquee has been here since the late 1990s, and it’s been a premiere live venue for years. I think of Jeff Healy, Big Sugar, and the ECMAs showcase there. By the time we were headliners, it felt like an arrival to play there,” he said.

“It’s always amazing to come to the venue. Of course it’s (Trews bassist) Jack Syperek’s dad Vic who owns it – It’s his room. So for us to be able to come here and play for this tour feels like coming home.”

While they’re in town, they definitely have some things they’ll want to revisit.

“We’ll be a bit mission-driven, because we’re like that when we’re on tour. But we always have spots we want to go to like The Local. We used to love the Hamachi House. When touring we try to focus on being on-stage though,” he said.

“But I’m back in the summer to Antigonish for a vacation, and we’ll be taking everything in that Nova Scotia has to offer, from the beaches to seafood and the people.”

The band will be rocking The Jubilee on Friday, August 2 in New Glasgow, N.S. Bands and musicians including Trooper, Tenille Arts, Alert The Medic, and Andre Pettipas & The Giants will play during the holiday long weekend festival.

But The Jubilee is special for one more reason – It’s the only Nova Scotia stop on Sum 41’s Farewell Tour.

“Their bass player Cone is actually a really good friend of mine. It’s definitely bittersweet, but I’m really glad they’re getting to say farewell and do it right,” he said.

“Early on someone told me ‘There’s no such thing as a last show’ and I guess you’d have to look at a band like KISS. Something tells me it’ll be hard for them to hang up their hats, but I’m so happy for them.”

MacDonald has a lot of songs he loves playing, but he veers to the recent ‘For The People’ as one he really enjoys doing live right now.

“It’s one of our latest creations, and it’s so fresh. It keeps audiences on their toes, which I really love,” he said.

As for the legendary House Of Ill Fame album that started it all, he has a few definite favourites.

“When we play ‘Why Bother’ or ‘When You Leave’, it’s always a big reaction. People always respond, and you can tell the difference between die-hard fans and casual ones with those,” he said.

“The ones who absolutely love us go crazy for those obscure ones, and others may grab a beer in that moment. But drawing from our deep cuts is drawing fans out of the woodwork. It’s so nice to see that reaction.”

The Trews will be rocking Cape Breton shortly after New Glasgow’s Jubilee. They play Rock The Fiddle on the Sydney waterfront August 9th.

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