INTERVIEW: Marianas Trench | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Often, an artist will get back as much as they put into their work. Maybe that’s why Marianas Trench achieved platinum status several times in their home country of Canada. And yet, over here in the UK, you’re lucky if someone has so much as heard their name. This is, quite frankly, a travesty to me. Marianas Trench’s vocalist Josh Ramsey was kind enough to sit down for a chat about his band’s creative process ahead of their upcoming UK tour, which nicely enough for us includes a night at Newcastle’s Riverside on Wednesday 6th November.

What personally set Marianas Trench apart from other bands is their ability to produce albums. While some artists fire out as many singles as possible in the hopes that they’ll chart, Marianas Trench are instead as committed to the format as ever. Latest album Phantoms is a testament to this disciplined mentality that ensures each of their long-form releases are extravagant and world building. 

“Each of our albums has its own unique setting. I want each album to feel like its own self-contained universe, having a scene and setting that will change the sound of the band, that will change the look of the band. I’m full commitment, sort of like a method actor. We did an 80s themed album called Astoria, I converted my house into an 80s themed studio. I recorded all my vocals in leather pants, shirtless, but wearing a scarf. I was fully into it. With our latest album Phantoms, we set the whole thing in haunted house – being haunted by the ghost of your former love. I got really into Edgar Allen Poe, and tried to literally let myself descend into madness. I really tried to go there, and I kind of did! I didn’t shave, I didn’t eat, I didn’t cut my hair. I looked and felt real crazy by the end of that recording – I needed a few weeks to put myself back together after all that.”

As if this intensive methodology for writing and recording an album wasn’t enough, Marianas Trench are all about their visuals too. Their music videos carry across whatever story they’re telling in ridiculously creative, and often literal, ways. Glimmer is nearly four minutes of Josh Ramsey wandering the halls of a decrepit mansion, yet they still manage to cram in the plot twist of the century in its short run time. This dedication to the creation of a unique, multifaceted sound translates well into a live show, performing with enough passion to fill any room they’re in. 

There’s a real magic energy to playing in a club when it’s packed and it feels like the fucking place is on fire

“I’m a pretty theatrical performer… I like our show to have a pacing to it, so it almost feels like it’s a play. I want it to feel like it’s not a normal rock show, but that it has some narrative storytelling involved in it as well. And, you know, we go for it.”

Marianas Trench have seen success after success over in North America, but while some artists have let themselves be caught up in the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, the Canadian pop rock troupe have instead been unnervingly down to earth. 2016’s Who Do You Love is a pop tune with gospel overtones that never fails to uplift (especially if you view the MV jam packed with good deeds). Meanwhile latest single Don’t Miss Me shows off Marianas Trench’s capacity for humour, juxtaposing a not entirely unemotional ballad with a music video filled with goofy puppies and parody sketches.

“It’s our nature – we’re nice guys. I feel like a lot of people just spend a lot of time trying to come off as cool and tough and all that shit. I think it’s cool just to be a normal person. I grew up in a recording studio – my dad owned a huge one – so I knew about showbiz before I could spell showbiz. I grew up around famous people and thought they were garbage people. I kind of don’t want to be like that.”

Marianas Trench certainly aren’t quite like anyone else; they’re quite content doing their own thing when it suits them. It’s reflected in their discography, which flits between any and all genres as they see fit – because who else has managed to follow up an 80s style The Goonies homage with a Poe-esque gothic love story. Considering how successful they’ve been throughout their eighteen year career, it might be surprising to hear that this is only their third time playing the UK; it would be such a shame to waste this opportunity to see the critically acclaimed musicians live for their intimate Newcastle show. Considering their more used to large scale shows, it’ll be interesting to see them back in a more compact venue.

“It’s kind of fun because we don’t actually get much of a chance to do this in North America. You know there’s two different kinds of show. With a big arena show, the fun thing about that you get to be as larger than life as you want to be. You can have the production. We’ve had several tours where I’ve had a flying rig and I would fly over the audience. We’ve done loads of crazy larger than life things. That’s fun. But you know what you miss in shows like that? It’s really hard to convey intimacy, and to have personal contact with the audience because it’s just a sea of people. In a club show, you get to have one on one eye contact with each person in the room – at least I try my best to make that happen. It’s also a lot harder to convey vulnerability in the performance when it’s so big. With the smaller shows, that’s what I like, is getting the more personal contact. There’s a real magic energy to playing in a club when it’s packed and it feels like the fucking place is on fire. That’s something you just don’t get in an arena show.”

Marianas Trench have already proved time and time again that they’re a pop-rock force to be reckoned with, and with any luck this run of UK shows will cement their reputation in the UK to the level they truly deserve.

Marianas Trench play Riverside, Newcastle on Wednesday 6th November

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