The Trews are on a cross-country tour in support of a new self-titled album. They play Red Deer’s Memorial Centre on Nov. 6.

The Trews and nothing but The Trews

Canadian rockers The Trews initially had trouble explaining their name to the public (‘trews’ means tartan trousers for those who are still wondering). Now they have to explain their connection to Russell Brand. The British comedian effectively co-opted the band’s name by calling his own online “news” site The Trews. It’s Brand’s amalgam of “truth” and “news.”

Canadian rockers The Trews initially had trouble explaining their name to the public (‘trews’ means tartan trousers for those who are still wondering).

Now they have to explain their connection to Russell Brand.

The British comedian effectively co-opted the band’s name by calling his own online “news” site The Trews. It’s Brand’s amalgam of “truth” and “news.”

“He’s stolen our name for his newscast,” responded The Trews frontman Colin MacDonald. “I mean, we had a hard enough time explaining our name, and then this guy comes along. …”

When it’s suggested that The Trews, as in the Nova Scotia rock band, should at least get the chance to write the theme song for The Trews, as in Brand’s newscast, MacDonald heartily agreed.

“It would be nice if he gave us some sort of credit, or a shout-out for our name.” But he doesn’t hold out much hope this will happen.

MacDonald noted his group already tried engaging the comedian through Twitter by jokingly linking Brand to the band’s song Paranoid Freak, “but we didn’t hear back. …”

The Trews are carrying on, regardless, with a cross-country tour in support of a new self-titled album. They play Red Deer’s Memorial Centre on Nov. 6.

The CD has been called “classic Trews” by various critics and MacDonald agrees it probably is. “We tried to make a great record, to do the best we can, and try to up the ante and become a better band.”

This fifth release, which was made possible by a crowd-funding campaign, is undeniably a crowd pleaser ­— some fans were even allowed to sing background vocals on some tracks. But MacDonald said The Trews didn’t set out to please everybody, as much as to please themselves.

“We’d go to our usual jazz base and jam to come up with ideas for songs.” Some of the tunes that came out of this process are personal — such as 65 Roses, which was written for the group’s late agent, Paul Gourlie, who died at age 38 of cystic fibrosis. MacDonald said the band wanted to pay tribute to Gourlie’s brave acceptance of his condition, and his perseverance.

Other songs are more open to interpretation. For instance, Rise the Wake seems to have political undertones, but was simply viewed as a “barn-burning rock tune” when written.

MacDonald said the album opened “with the highest charting debut of our careers,” and he sees this as a success, considering his band has essentially been around for 17 years.

The group was started in high school 1997 by Colin MacDonald, his guitarist brother, John-Angus MacDonald, their cousin, drummer Sean Dalton and friend, bassist Jack Syperek. They later changed their band’s name from One I’d Trouser and relocated to Toronto.

After winning the 2002 Rocksearch contest held annually by a St. Catharines, Ont., radio station, the band landed a recording contract.

The full-length House of Ill Fame CD came in 2003. Produced by Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson, the album contained the singles Tired of Waiting and Not Ready to Go — which hit No. 1 on Canadian rock charts and was the most played song of 2004.

What followed was a slew of hits including Hold Me in Your Arms, Hope+ Ruin, So She’s Leaving, Yearning, Can’t Stop Laughing and the latest, What’s Fair is Fair.

The group won five East Coast Music Awards, an Independent Music Award and was five times nominated for Juno Awards.

Colin MacDonald said his band always looks forward to playing in Alberta for its Western Canadian fans, as well as some transplanted East Coast fans. “We’ve always had great shows out there, and we’re hoping for more.”

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $42 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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