When The Trews bandmates and brothers John-Angus and Colin MacDonald began writing the song Highway of Heroes, they had no idea just how powerful it would become.
Since being released nearly five years ago, Highway of Heroes has grown from just a song to a patriotic remembrance of fallen Canadian soldiers.
“That song went from being an idea in a jam space between my brother and I, to what it has become and in those moments I am humbled by it,” John-Angus MacDonald said.
Highway of Heroes was written in honour of Canadian Armed Forces Capt. Nichola Goddard, who became the first female killed during the War in Afghanistan in 2006. The song takes its name from a stretch of Highway 401 in Ontario named ‘The Highway of Heroes’.
“She’s [Goddard] from Antigonish, a little town where I grew up … My mom was her teacher,” MacDonald said.
The Trews’ song Highway of Heroes, above, has over 1.5 million views on YouTube.
Tonight (Nov. 25) The Trews will be performing at the Port Theatre. Their show is part of Got Pop? Concerts’ 10th anniversary celebration.
“We love the Port Theatre,” MacDonald said. “I think this will be our third or maybe even fourth time playing there. It’s always a great show. The fans are always really enthusiastic and we’re playing really well because we’re jacked about the new record.”
In April, the Nova Scotia band released its latest record titled The Trews.
“It’s strong stuff, we really focused on the writing aspect of things way before we set into the studio,” MacDonald said.“We put the onus on ourselves to deliver some great songs.”
In order to pay for the album, The Trews turned to PledgeMusic.com, a crowdsourcing website that allows users to donate to various music projects and receive prizes in return. The Trews offered their fans everything from free downloads of the new record, to Skype calls and even four-on-four hockey games.
“We only did two of those [hockey games], but man that is fun,” MacDonald said. “I gotta say, paying for a record by playing street hockey is not a bad way to go. There are worse ways.”
The Trews hail from Antigonish, N.S. and were originally formed back in the early 2000s.
In 2002 they earned some much-needed radio airplay when they won a contest put on by a radio station in St. Catharines, Ont. Their win would prove to be a big stepping stone for them as they signed to Bumstead Productions.
“In the moment we didn’t know that was going to happen and we didn’t know how good that would be for our career,” MacDonald said. “We were just stoked to have won it. It wasn’t like an Earth-shattering thing at the moment.”
Since then, The Trews have gone on to earn East Coast Music Awards, Independent Music Awards and received multiple Juno Award nominations.
Last month, The Trews were preparing to play two shows in downtown Ottawa when they suddenly found themselves under lockdown.
“We were scheduled to play two nights at a club called Mavericks,” MacDonald said.
The band would later learn that they were under lockdown because of the shooting that took place on Parliament Hill and at National War Memorial and cost Canadian Armed Forces Cpl. Nathan Cirillo his life.
“The place where he [Cirillo] was shot, the memorial, is in view of the club.”
The following morning they were suppose to appear on a television program in Ottawa to promote their new record, but instead they performed Highway of Heroes to honour Cirillo.
“Everybody stood as if the anthem were playing or something. All the cameramen were standing still and watching and there were the hosts and they were kind of crying,” MacDonald said. “The moment was profound and people were in such shock and people were still grieving and I think it was just an outlet. I think that song has become an outlet for grief in moments like that.”
The Trews perform with The Glorious Sons at the Port Theatre tonight at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 to $35. For more information, please visit www.porttheatre.com.