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Five Questions With… Josh Ramsay and Matt Webb of Marianas Trench

Have a fondness for the 1980s? The guys in Marianas Trench sure do, and it’s unabashedly displayed on their new album Astoria (604 Records/Universal Music Canada), from references to movies such as The Goonies to musical nods to Michael Jackson, Depeche Mode and Tears For Fears.

The trip down millennial memory lane is in part a response to some difficult personal circumstances the Vancouver pop-rockers—particularly front man Josh Ramsay—endured over the past few years while making the record. But Ramsay’s respite came through channeling those struggles into new synth-drenched, arena-ready anthems such as “One Love,” “End Of An Era,” and “Wildfire.”

Overall, Astoria is a confident return for Marianas Trench who burst onto the scene with their 2006 debut album Fix Me, and the Top 5 Canadian single “Say Anything.” They followed up that success with two Certified Platinum albums, Masterpiece Theatre and Ever After, which led to a Juno Award for Group of the Year in 2013. On top of that were multiple Muchmusic Video Awards and Ramsay’s Grammy nomination in 2013 for co-writing and producing Carly Rae Jepsen’s breakthrough smash “Call Me Maybe.”

The band is now set to kick off an 18-date Canadian tour on March 9 in Kingston, Ontario, following a U.S. jaunt last fall that helped push Astoria to a respectable #53 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart (the album peaked at #2 in Canada). Joining Marianas Trench on tour will be Walk Off The Earth, and Josh Ramsay and guitarist Matt Webb shared their thoughts on being back in action again.

What sets Astoria apart from your previous work?

Ramsay: This is our most focused and refined work—lyrically, instrumentally, vocally, and on my side, my best production. It’s hands down our best record to date; I wouldn’t change a note. 

Webb: On Astoria, you’ll hear references to a lot of our favourite Eighties bands, the bands we grew up dancing around the house to. While other artists have reinterpreted Eighties sounds time and time again, no one was doing the Kenny Loggins/Huey Lewis feel-good vibe. It needed to come back in a big way!

What has been the biggest change in your life in the past year?

Ramsay: Being back out on the road, and digging into the character work and performance art aspect of the job. It’s good to be back out and tearing it up. Also, we’re finally making a splash in the U.S. It’s nice to see all the hard work paying off. 

Webb: I agree with Josh there. We’ve been hitting the road hard, focusing on enhancing our live show through character work, unique production, and tighter pants. We’re excited to be supporting a new record, one we feel very proud of. 

What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?

Ramsay: I don’t have a favourite. I always hope the next song I’m working on will be my best. I stay motivated and inspired that way. 

Webb: It changes every day for me. I’m particularly proud of the musical performances and tones achieved on both the opening and closing tracks on this record [“Astoria,” “End Of An Era”].  

What has been your most memorable experience while touring in Canada?

Ramsay: Way back in the day, we pulled our van over in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It was so cold that while walking across the parking lot to the hotel, my eyes froze open. That sucked. 

Webb: We had one tour dubbed the “Flirting With Death” tour. It started like this… Day 1: Jack-knife on the highway in a snowstorm, get stuck, block the highway for an hour, dig out, drive unscathed for a while until windshield explodes due to flying boulder, backtrack, repair windshield, continue, drive through ice storm in treacherous mountain range, stop to help stranded motorist, get back in van, can’t accelerate due to skating rink road and steep incline, get out, push van, leave one band member behind in the dark forest, finally get to hotel, share a bed with three band mates.  Day 2: You get the point.  

 What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?

Ramsay: In my off time, I like to create cooking recipes that accompany loud music and strong drinks. It keeps me creative. 

Webb: One of my friends owns an ice cream store called Rain Or Shine in Vancouver, so I go there—a lot. I’m still seeking an endorsement.







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