MENEW’s Shade Talks Debut Album, Rocking With His Brothers + More
Toronto alternative rock band MENEW are made up of three brothers -- vocalist and guitarist Shade, keyboardist and synthesizer player Key, drummer Nathan -- and their touring bassist Jesse Filice. They've been playing music as children and these three brothers have shared the stage with some major acts such as U2, the Frank Zappa Manifesto and they recently wrapped up a tour with Filter. Diffuser got the opportunity to talk to Shade, who dishes all about the band’s full length debut record, growing up on a Christmas tree farm, his admiration for Muse and much more.
The band just released its first full-length studio album, ‘Wide Awake Hello.’ Can you talk about what the title of this album means to you?
In the past we’ve done a lot of recordings , demos and EPs and this is our first official full length album. It’s pretty much like we’ve arrived and we have a sound and it’s been a long road and progression to this point so ‘Wide Awake Hello’ really sums up everything in our past and who we are right now. It sums up the whole album in one sentence, I would say.
The first single ‘Don’t Give Up On Us Now’ has a very clear message. What inspired this song?
It’s one of the songs that’s more straightforward with the meaning behind it. We do like fans taking different meanings from our songs but ‘Don’t Give Up On Us Now’ is straightforward in that it sums up the struggle and the whole journey that we’re on -- don’t give up on your dreams. You could take it also as a relationship.
Can you talk a little musically and lyrically about your new single, ‘Wide Awake?’
‘Wide Awake’ was actually the last song we recorded on the album and we wrote it last as well. That one really sums up the album about we’ve arrived and we’re here.
You guys opened up for Filter earlier in the year. What is your touring schedule like for the rest of 2012?
There are some tours in the works, so for the rest of the year we’ll be touring with other bands and we’ll be headlining some festivals in Canada. It also looks like we’ll be headed over to the U.K. for a tour so that’s in the works right now. It’ll be great to get overseas and meet some of our fans in the U.K. and in Europe.
What is one band that you would love to open up for?
There’s a lot of great bands out there right now, I would say – Muse is a band we’re really into right now. I think opening up for Muse and being exposed to their fans would be on the top of our list. A lot of British acts fit in with our sound.
You guys are a trio of brothers, including your touring bassist Jesse. How is it being in a band with your siblings?
Overall it’s pretty easy, actually. There are times I think with every band that I think it’s a little tough but we all really get along with each other. Growing up in the country we always had each other to rely on and with the music it made us close. It’s been a benefit having brothers in the band, for sure.
You and your brothers were enlisted in piano classes. When did you decide you wanted to pick up a mic and guitar?
We started piano around age five, all three of us were classically trained and I think there’s a progression where you actually want to stop reading music and start making your own music. Pretty early on, before our teens we branched off and I got into the guitar. Nathan started on keyboards and synthesizers, inspired by the Cure a lot, and Key was actually into the drums. We all got an instrument -- the guitar, the drums, keyboards and started playing around with each other. Actually, before we could afford our real instruments we use to make our instruments out of cardboard. We were called The Smashers. That was our first band, kind of [laughs]. We’ve progressed from that.
How would you describe the sound of MENEW to someone who isn’t familiar with your music?
I would say it’s influenced by British music -- it’s alternative rock. We’re inspired by a lot of British acts like Beatles and Bowie from the beginning to some recent bands like the Killers and Muse.
How did you guys come up with the name MENEW for the band?
Well, we grew up on a Christmas tree farm and we started rehearsing in our garage space and there were all these Christmas tree signs hanging around all the time, just lying around. Where we had set up in the garage there was a few Christmas tree signs behind the drum set and they actually spelled the word how it’s spelled “MENEW” with an upside down “e.” It pretty much pushed us right there for us to take [laughs]. We liked the way it looked and that it wasn’t restricted by language, it was just more of a symbol than a word.