Blame it on the Mash-Ups: where differing styles are woven together to create something familiar yet new. They’re even showing up on MTV, with big time acts like Jay-Z and Linkin Park put head to head. Which leads one to ask, what if you had a mash-up between the Foo Fighters and The Beach Boys? What would that sound like? It might sound like Marianas Trench and their blend of melodic alternative vocal rock. This Vancouver band took a moment from their December recording schedule to sit down with DiSCORDER for a chat in their chilly downtown rehearsal space.
Though it’s not technically a soda-pop, bassist/vocalist Mike Ayley says their sound is “like Pepsi but more like Pepsi Twist. It’s Rock Twist.” Lead vocalist/guitarist Josh Ramsay takes another approach and describes by what he would like to be known for: “It’s punk rock, meets rip rock, meets tons of vocal rock like Queen and the Beach Boys.” Vocal rock? It’s not a term that’s thrown around a lot on playlist categories these days, but then, what other band can say that they all share the same high school choirboy pasts?
Oh, they don’t don gowns like the Polyphonic Spree to display their vocal roots, but at concerts, they’ve been known to treat the crowd to an a cappella ditty or a little “Good Vibrations.” Josh unabashedly admits that, “at the heart of every band, there’s a band dork somewhere. And I’m a band dork AND a choir dork.” Once a choirboy, always a choirboy; the group continues to take voice lessons to maintain their tight harmonies. Marianas Trench invests this time and effort into their voices in the hopes that this will set them apart from the rest of the music scene.
Drummer/vocalist Ian Casselman believes that “[the vocals] sound like nothing that’s out there right now.” Ramsey adds that “it is all real–live, not fake, not digitally doctored–so it’s got a real live, good energy.”
Their first full-length album will be released this spring by 604 Records, the large indie label owned in part by Nickleback’s Chad Kroeger, and home to local gloom-stars The Organ (speaking of strange musical Mash-Ups!).
Though they’ve only recently been signed, the band isn’t overly naive about the business. Josh’s lyrics already reveal some frustrations with the music industry. He explains the song, “Shaketramp”, and its chorus “slap you like a bitch and you take it like a whore”. He explains, “I was feeling a little bit like a sell-out and the idea was not like “bitch” as in girl or in a hip-hop ‘money on my mind, and my bitch is on my money’ kind of way. It was more like I felt like a whore, ‘cause I was whoring out for the industry and being somebody’s bitch, more like in a prison kind of way…I dealt with it by writing that song”
But they’re happy with their producer, former Matthew Good Band guitarist Dave Genn. Keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Matt Webb can’t believe that they get to work with “somebody I personally look up to and have looked up to for a long time”. Josh believes that Genn’s influence will help Mat Webb’s playing skills “become godlike…or Genn-like anyway. [He] is really an artist-friendly producer so we’re gonna sound like a band and not just cookie-cut and mechanically perfected in a computer.”
There’s more to the recording process experience than just turning knobs, and Ian feels that, “the band has a sound right now whereas before you’re always trying to find your sound.” Not being rushed in the studio, Josh says the band is “taking time to get the right takes as opposed to the other school of recording that’s happening now [which is] just recording on the first take and that’s that and you digitally fix it all.”
With the release of their first official album on the horizon, there are other “firsts” that the group is looking forward to. Josh, deadpan shared this wish: “I’m hoping to lose my virginity soon.” Other definite “firsts” for the band include the filming of their music video for “Fix Me” and soon after, a national tour.
If they had it their way, Marianas Trench would have a tour that incorporated everything. Josh proclaims, “I wanna get a tour bus but not a normal one… I want it to be painted in rainbows and say, ‘Reading is fun’ on the side…we could give out books to people after shows and stuff. Like copies of Hemingway and Steinbeck… but as a pop-up book.” Talk about promotion mash-ups. Sadly, this is just initial brainstorming. At least, the long days of touring ahead shouldn’t be boring. D
Check out www.604records.com for info on Marianas Trench’s official release and tour dates.