MENEW is comprised of Shade, Key and Nathan Samuel Phillip.
When Aaron, Ryan, and Nathan Samuel Phillip Klaas sat down for the first of many classical piano lessons with The Royal Conservatory of Music at the age of five, no one could have imagined that they’d emerge with guitars, drums, and three gritty, alt-rock albums later as the phenomena MENEW.
They began in the early 2000s, working tirelessly in the confines of their Cambridge, Ontario garage, jamming night after night in early recordings until they’d found themselves at a sound that echoed artists like David Bowie and Muse.
“We grew up classically trained musicians and then we kind of branched off as brothers and got a drum set, got into more rock, and were listening to U2 or British stuff like Bowie,” says Nathan, who handles vocals, drums, and percussion, and believes that they owe more to their early training than their later inspirations.
“And then we kind of fully evolved into a sound that people describe as maybe Muse or Coldplay, but I think it’s come out of that classically training and just that British sound.”
After resorting to holding their own shows in local theatres, halls, and staging guerilla style impromptu concerts because they were too young to play at many clubs and bars legally, the trio often found themselves on the back of flatbed trucks on city streets or even playing forty-feet in the air on an industrial crane in downtown Toronto.
Their daredevil ways paid off, and the group managed to join U2 on the Vertigo Tour at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, performing “Out of Control” alongside Bono and The Edge.
“It was definitely a high for us being inspired by them growing up,” Nathan said of performing with their idols.
In 2008, they released their first EP, Of the Future, under their own independent record company RedCore Music Group. The six song EP was short-listed for four Grammy Nominations including Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, Best Performance by a Duo or Group, and Best Video for the single “This Isn’t Real.” The single was also recognized by Billboard as “one of the best written songs of 2009.”
From their MENEW exploded, their television premier was on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2009 and their song “Other Side Of The Ocean” was featured on MTV’s The Hills in 2010.
Now known as Shade (Aaron: lead vocals, guitar) and Key (Ryan: piano, synthesizer), while Nathan kept his birth name, the trio began touring extensively in North America—from NXNE (North by Northeast) and CMW (Canadian Music Week), to their 2010 sold-out Los Angeles debut at Musexpo at the fabled Viper Room in Hollywood—MENEW was holding nothing back in their musical conquest.
Their sophomore attempt, Wide Awake Hello, was originally titled Take Them One By One, until the final single, “Wide Awake,” was added in the spring of 2011 and the band decided the name and song better represented the album’s mission. According to Key, the bond the group shared as brothers was what allowed them to spend hours in the same room, jamming and honing every chop and lick until they found that unpolished sound that defined the album.
Singles were featured on hit television shows, their music videos directed by Lyle Christie continued to wow fans and the media alike, and even bands like Coldplay—who featured the video for “Wide Awake” on their website—began to take notice of MENEW’s raw talent.
Hitting the road for the “Wide Awake Hello Tour,” the band traveled throughout the U.S. as a direct support act for Filter and Fuel, and in 2012, at a show at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City on March 8, MENEW received critical acclaim and praise for their performance.
“We always push ourselves to be better every night, we push our audience to like what they see and to engage in our music, and I think we bring a certain energy to every show we put into it,” Nathan has said of their live shows, which also include Tyler “T-bone” Lawson and Jesse “Wilfur” Filice on bass guitar.
MENEW closed out 2012 with a cross-country tour that started in New York City’s Irving Plaza and ended at Roxy Theatre, Hollywood; but today, with the release just last month of Mother Nature, the dynamic and daring trio from Ontario have lost none of the flare that has pushed them to the top.
Of the new album, Nathan believes that each one prior has been a stepping-stone towards crafting for them a sound that is unique to MENEW. “It definitely has more of a modern sound than the last ones,” he says. “We experimented a little more with sounds like drum machines, samples, and different things like that. So I think in that way and also just songwriting, we’ve matured as a band.”
Embracing new technology incorporated into the album artwork, deluxe versions feature ever-changing artwork where fans scan QR codes to view the art on their phones—using 24-hour continuous live still cameras that automatically upload photos daily, the landscapes that are the albums artwork can be followed in real-time as they grow and thrive.
MENEW, according to Nathan, has always injected a calculated level of personal passion into their music; enough to allow a connection with their growing following on many levels that go beyond music and the vast, sweeping themes of their albums.
“That’s what you’re doing it for, it’s for that music and to reach as many people as you can.”
Marvin Vasquez contributed to this story.