Marianas Trench
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Marianas Trench

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | MAJOR

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | MAJOR
Band Pop Rock

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Discography

Albums:
Self Titled EP (2002)
Say Anything (Limited Edition Video/CD Single) (2006)
Fix Me (2006)
Masterpiece Theatre (2009)

Singles:
"Say Anything" (Say Anything) Radio/Video on Much Music
"Shake Tramp" (Fix Me) Radio/Video on Much Music
"Decided To Break It" (Fix Me) Radio/Video on Much Music
"Cross My Heart" (Masterpiece Theatre) Radio/ Video on Much Music
"All To Myself" (Masterpiece Theatre) Radio/ Video on Much Music
"Beside You" (Masterpiece Theatre) Radio/ Video on Much Music
"Celebrity Status" (Masterpiece Theatre) Radio / Video on Much Music
"Good To You (feat. Jessica Lee)" (Masterpiece Theatre)

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Bio

It takes some real cojones to include the word 'Masterpiece' in your album title, but Josh Ramsay isn't too worried. "I suppose I could be digging myself into a hole calling the record Masterpiece Theatre," he chuckles, "but it's tongue-in-cheek. And I'm not the kind of person that people would assume as being an egomaniac. I hope not, anyway."

Given his feverish imagination and comprehensive musical gifts, Ramsay could probably get away with a little egomania. And with the release of Masterpiece Theatre, the frontman of Vancouver's Marianas Trench makes a iron-clad case for a prodigious set of talents - both his own and those of his bandmates, guitarist Matt Webb, bassist Mike Ayley, and drummer Ian Casselman.

Marianas Trench had already elevated itself above the rest of the pack with a 2006 debut, Fix Me, that showcased a knack for colouring outside the lines of factory-issue millenial punk, shrewdly-built pop, and super-adrenalized modern rock. The single and in particular the video "Shake Tramp" was enough to demonstrate these qualities, coupled with Ramsay's uninhibited urge to be the complete song-and-dance man.

But with both the industry and the fans beating down the door for a quick second album, the Trench decided to put on the brakes. "All of a sudden you have six months to do your next record," Ramsay sighs. "So I really had to just put my foot down and say, 'No, I need the time to do this.' I was not interested in putting something out for the sake of putting something out."

Two years later, Marianas Trench has re-emerged with Masterpiece Theatre. And not surprisingly, it's a work of soaring ambition and decisive technical prowess – that easily might not have happened. "It's one thing when you're Chad Kroeger and you just finished writing 'How You Remind Me'," Ramsay states. "I didn't have some mega-platinum song to back up my argument with, so I was lucky that the band and the label trusted me enough to do it."

By "it", Ramsay means he was allowed to indulge a high-concept fantasy for the band's sophomore album, which is built, for starters, around a song called "Masterpiece Theatre". Adopting Brian Wilson's notion of the 'pocket symphony' and then running with it, the three distinct versions of “Masterpiece Theatre” dotted across the record feature an almost perfect balance between the vocal theatrics of Queen and the more hymnal qualities of the Beach Boys.

By the time “Masterpiece Theatre” is reprised for a final, climactic time, every other song on the album is quoted and incorporated into an intricately constructed dramatic revue that swings from pristine pop, to propulsive riff rock, to quasi-doo wop, to robotic new wave, and finally into a wholly satisfying thematic payoff.

"You know in the climax of a musical, there's always that medley at the end, and I thought that would be cool on a rock record," explains Ramsay, "but it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. I wrote it in the studio as we recorded it, and it took about three weeks."

After a beat, he adds, "But really it took me two years because it draws from all the songs on the whole album."

Bassist Mike Ayley readily admits, "I don't think any of the three ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ songs could have gone on Fix Me had they been written at the time. ‘Masterpiece’ 2 and 3 in particular are amazing songs that really explore the potential of Josh's writing. You really have to hear them to get it. It's like trying to explain ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to somebody who has only heard Kanye West and Katy Perry."

Ramsay agrees. "I really wanted to have a 'Good Vibrations'/'Bohemian Rhapsody’ style song on the first record,” he says, “but I don't think I was a mature enough writer to have written it yet, and I still feel like I was in over-my-head when we did this one, and I just barely made it."

Ramsay is unnecessarily modest; the whole of Masterpiece Theatre demonstrates a startling compositional maturity compared to the Marianas Trench of two years ago.

"Beside You" is a panoramic exercise in big emotions, with a dash of the Dream Academy's "Life In a Northern Town”. "Acadia" begins with a clipped, bright acoustic guitar, and blossoms into something like the Who reconsidered by U2, reimagined for the net generation. In the crunchy "All to Myself", the power ballad "Lover Dearest", and the strident "Good to You" (in which he duets with Kate Voegele), Ramsay pulls out the kind of honeyed vocals more attuned to modern RnB than white, adolescent rock.

"I always had that aspect in my voice but the first record just didn't have songs that were conducive to me singing that way," he states. "I think it's from growing up listening to a lot of Michael Jackson. With these songs, it made sense to stretch out a little more."

On "Cross My Heart" and "Celebrity Status", the band conjures up a kind of perfect pop crossover. Producer Dave 'Rave' Ogilvie was responsible for the latter track, which c