Emerging out of Hamilton, Ontario in the early 2000s, hard rock combo the Trews earned a reputation as one of Canada's hardest-working bands, notching hundreds of shows a year and breaking through to the mainstream with the 2003 Juno-nominated hit single "Not Ready to Go" from their gold-certified debut album House of Ill Fame. A hooky mix of alt-rock edge and melodic, riffy swagger, the quartet became a chart staple, earning accolades and legions of fans with albums like 2005's Den of Thieves and 2014's eponymous release. Following a 2016 retrospective release, the band returned in 2018 with their high-energy sixth album Civilianaires.
Formed in the Nova Scotia town of Antigonish in 1997, the Trews were initially known as One I'd Trouser, a line they'd nicked from a Monty Python song. With the exception of a handful of different drummers, the band's core line-up of brothers Colin and John-Angus MacDonald (vocals/guitar and lead guitar/vocals, respectively) and bassist Jack Syperek has remained intact since the beginning. After a short-lived tenure with original drummer Rose Murphy, they released an EP in 1997 as One I'd Trouser with second drummer Ramsey Clark. They toured the length of Canada over the next few years, eventually landing in Niagara Falls, where they built up a following around Southern Ontario. Rebranding themselves as the Trews in 2002 and with new drummer Sean Dalton now in the band, they won a contest at prominent radio station in St. Catherines and landed their first recording contract with Bumstead Records, an affiliate of Epic. Produced by Big Sugar frontman Gordie Johnson, the Trews' debut album, House of Ill Fame, was released in August 2003, earning them widespread national exposure thanks in part to their high-energy hit single "Not Ready to Go." They were nominated for New Group of the Year at the 2004 Juno Awards and they followed up in November of that year with the concert album, House of Ill Fame: The Live Cut. Riding a wave of newfound momentum, the Trews recorded their follow-up with heavy-hitting producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Cheap Trick) and landed their second consecutive gold record with 2005's Den of Thieves. Another bout of heavy touring followed, including dates with the Rolling Stones and Robert Plant. 2008's No Time for Later gave the band their highest Canadian chart debut yet, reaching number four in its first week. Keyboardist Jeff Heisholt was added to the Trews' touring line-up and he appeared on their next live outing, 2009's Acoustic: Friends & Total Strangers, which was also issued as a DVD, earning them yet another Juno nomination.
In 2010, the band issued the stand-alone single "Highway of Heroes," a song written for Capt. Nichola Goddard, an old schoolmate of the band's who was the first female Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan. The song was a major hit for the Trews and they donated all proceeds from the single to the Canadian Hero Fund charity. Co-produced by the Tragically Hip's Gord Sinclair and recorded at the Hip's Bathhouse Studio, 2011's Hope & Ruin was another success in Canada and also fared particularly well in Australia, where their band toured heavily in support of the release. A year later, the seven-song EP, Thank You & I'm Sorry, featured guest spots from Black Crowes' Rich Robinson and Eddie Harsch as well as the Faces' Ian McLagan. Returning in 2014, the Trews issued their self-titled fifth album and enjoyed the highest chart debut of their career at number three on the national chart and number one on the Rock, Alternative, and Independent Album charts. Following the tour cycle for the album, longtime drummer Dalton parted amicably with the Trews and newcomer Gavin Maguire took over. The group celebrated their first two decades with a 2016 retrospective called Time Capsule. In early 2018, Chris Gormley replaced Maguire on drums and the Trews issued the politically charged single "This Is US," which appeared later appeared on their sixth studio album, Civilianaires, in September of that year. ~ Timothy Monger