Meet rock band Menew and their crazy synth-modded upright piano

Menew are an alternative indie rock band of (literal) brothers; Shade (lead vocals, guitar), Key (piano, synthesizers), and Nathan Samuel Phillip (drums, vocals). Their sound derives from a background of classical music training and British rock.
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Menew are an alternative indie rock band of (literal) brothers; Shade (lead vocals, guitar), Key (piano, synthesizers), and Nathan Samuel Phillip (drums, vocals). Their sound derives from a background of classical music training and British rock.

Menew are an alternative indie rock band of (literal) brothers; Shade (lead vocals, guitar), Key (piano, synthesizers), and Nathan Samuel Phillip (drums, vocals). Their sound derives from a background of classical music training and British rock. Loudwire said of the band, “If Muse, Coldplay, and the Killers had a genius, dirty lovechild, its name would be Menew.” Find out more at menew.com.

HOMETOWN:Toronto, Canada

MUSICAL TRAINING: Being brothers, we all started playing classical piano at age five and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music for 15 years. It was a good foundation for learning how to playtechnically, but for us, the formulaic and mathematical techniques could get in the way of writing. You spend the rest of your life unlearning everything when composing songs.

FIRST GIGS: When we were very young, we held concerts in our living room using instruments we fashioned out of cardboard, covering bands like the Beach Boys and the Traveling Wilburys. One of our first real live shows was when U2 brought us up on stage to perform “Out of Control’” together to a sold-out crowd of 20,000. It was an unbelievable experience, especially since during that time we were playing in and around Toronto at clubs to small crowds starting out.

INFLUENCES: The list is almost endless, but the Beatles, David Bowie, and U2 were an enormous influence on the birth of our band. We are inspired by many of the greats, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty… to name just a few.

WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO NOW: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence. Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys did a great job on the production of that record. The new U2 album Songs of Innocence has been in rotation quite a bit as well.

INSTRUMENTS PLAYED: Yamaha custom upright pianos C-108 and C-109, highly modified Korg MS2000B and Trinity synthesizers, organ, and tons of guitar pedals.

OUR BIG BREAK:There have been many highlights in our career so far. Playing The Late Show with David Letterman in the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City was truly an exciting experience. But it’s really the culmination of many moments of success that defines your “big break.”

LATEST ALBUM: We have a new album called Mother Nature. We’re proud of the work we did on this one, and we pushed the artwork to a unique place, using QR codes to create interactive, ever-changing album art. Fans can scan the cover on their phone or mobile device and see the artwork change daily. Images are taken from 24-hour live cameras, uploading the naturescapes as they grow throughout their lifespan.

FAVORITE KEYBOARD GEAR:Our custom Yamaha C-108 piano hybrid with a Korg MS2000 synth and MIDI controllers built into the chassis. We’ve also added a lot of vintage guitar pedals to mix through the synths. That rig is really like another member of the band—but the heavy annoying one you always have to carry around!

WHAT’S NEXT: We’ll be performing in North America throughout the summer and fall with bands like Weezer and Linkin Park. We’ll also be heading into the studio to record some new material that we are really excited about, and shooting a video on the west coast with director Joshua Butler of The Vampire Diaries.

ADVICE: Luck is the residue of design.

Photo: Menew’s Yamaha upright piano has had hardware added to support a Korg MS2000 synth (top left) and MicroKey MIDI controller (middle left), as well as a Korg Trinity TR-Rack and Apple MacBook Pro (bottom right). Click photo to enlarge.