Photo by Andrew Epstein
The first time I interviewed The Trews it was by candlelight during the great blackout of 2003. The band was getting ready to play the record release show for their debut album The House of Ill Fame. At the time I found a band from Antigonish, Nova Scotia that played melancholic yet upbeat-sounding bluesy rock, and who were eager to start earning a faithful fan base.
Now just over thirteen years later The Trews have proven their longevity, having developed a trademark sound and consistently maintaining a solid group of fans. Their songs are also far more diverse than it seems on the first listen. This is perhaps the most evident on their new best-of release Time Capsule, which features four new songs, as well as sixteen hits and fan favourites.
I went record shopping with guitarist John-Angus MacDonald ahead of the band’s in-store performance at the HMV Superstore on Yonge Street in Toronto, and while geeking out on some of our favourite albums we managed to talk about how the band has managed to retain their sound and their fans since I first met them that afternoon in the darkened front room of The Horseshoe Tavern.
For the record I did end up grabbing that copy of Björk’s Vulnicura Live, as well as a vinyl copy of Royal Thunder’s Crooked Doors.
The Trews have four tour dates lined up in the North-Eastern U.S. in early October, followed by a coast-to-coast Canadian tour starting later in the month. Time Capsule is available in stores and online now. You can have a listen to the new track “Beautiful & Tragic” here.
Photo Courtesy of Earsplit PR
Industrial solo-act Author & Punisher a.k.a. Tristan Shone is one of the most unique performers in music today. A former mechanical engineer, Shone left the field to study art and sculpture. He creates his own instruments, including a drum machine that looks like a robotic fist, and a neckpiece microphone that amplifies his trachea. Alone from behind his mechanical fortress he delivers harsh, beat-driven live sets that envelope the audience like a thick black cloud.
I caught up with Shone before a captivating and sufficiently loud appearance at Toronto’s Hard Luck Bar to talk about the visual aesthetic of his instruments, why he never intended to make industrial music, and how he fits into the metal scene.
Author & Punisher’s latest album Melk En Honing (Dutch for “Milk and Honey”) is available now, and you can watch the puppet-filled video for “Void, Null, Alive” below.
Photo by Francesca Ludikar
For nearly a decade Skye Sweetnam was a bonafide Canadian pop star. She released two solo albums and had fans all over the world. But in 2011 she surprised more than a few of them when she debuted her new band Sumo Cyco, a blend of modern metal, punk, and ska. After years of having major label support, Sweetnam’s career is now purely DIY. The band has built their fan base from the ground up, independently recording their debut album Lost in Cyco City (2014) and filming a series of ridiculous music videos. I caught up with Sweetnam before a recent performance in Toronto to talk about how fronting the band stacks up to her former mainstream success, why playing perfectly isn’t always the key to a great show, and how a certain Canadian pop icon should perhaps also follow their heart into heavier music.
Sumo Cyco will be co-headlining a NXNE showcase with metallers Diemonds this Saturday June 18th at the Bovine Sex Club in Toronto, and they’ll be playing with Ill Scarlett on Canada Day July 1st in Hamilton at Club Absinthe. They’ve also got some U.K. dates lined up for the fall. You can check out the crowdfunding campaign for their next album here, and watch their video for “Crowd Control” below.
Photo by Ole Luk
Before debuting her one-woman metal project Myrkur in 2014, Danish musician Amalie Bruun was primarily known as one half of the indie pop act Ex Cops. Myrkur’s dreamy blend of Nordic folk music and vintage nineties black metal riffs seem completely at odds with Ex Cops’ catchy electro ditties. So when Bruun and her live band passed through Toronto on their recent support tour with Polish metal superstars Behemoth, I was eager to speak with her about this transition and her progression as a musician.
I also wanted to talk about a recent incident where Bruun stopped accepting private messages through the Myrkur Facebook page, as she was fed up with receiving death threats and misogynistic hate mail from men. Bruun revealed that she takes it in stride, and even uses it as artistic motivation. The conversation then took a surprising turn, as Bruun would go on to say that she’s far more concerned with the proliferation of Islam in Europe. I suggested that like other cultures, Islam has a secular side, and although she acknowledged that this is probably true, she said it’s a side that she’s never seen.
To analyze it as impartially as I can, I would guess that Bruun and I have had different experiences. In Toronto, Muslims mix with everyone else at concerts, clubs, sporting events, and other supposedly decadent secular activities that extremists generally frown upon. That has led to me to the personal belief that all religions have bred extremists of some sort, but generally speaking the majority of people, regardless of their background, pretty much just want to have a good time in those brief moments when life doesn’t give you any particular responsibilities. That’s my experience. Listen to the interview and let me know your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.
Myrkur’s debut full-length album M is available now on Relapse Records, and you can watch the video for “Onde Børn” below.