BY MARK WEBER
Marianas Trench brings their ‘Never Say Die’ tour to Red Deer March 30th at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer.
These are also exciting days as they’ve been nominated for the ‘Group of the Year’ award at this year’s Juno Awards, slatedto be aired in early April.
Meanwhile, they are relishing their time on the road – connecting with fans and spreading the polished, tremendously-crafted tunes of their latest CD – Astoria – which was released last fall.
“It was a long process, but once the recording process really took off it really gelled. It was a great experience and it workedout really well organically,” said drummer Ian Casselman. “It was a lot of work but it happened naturally which is always nicewhen that does happen – we weren’t having to force anything.”
Over the course of their career, the pop-rock quartet have had several videos reach number one on the MuchMusic Top 30Countdown which garnered multiple JUNO, MMVA and SOCAN award wins and nominations.
Since their 2006 debut, Fix Me, the Vancouver-based four piece have also had two certified platinum-selling records(Masterpiece Theatre, Ever After) and chart-topping hits including Fallout, Haven’t Had Enough, and Stutter garneredmultiple SOCAN and MMVA Awards, number one videos on Much Music.
Meanwhile, when lead singer Josh Ramsay came up with the title Astoria for the band’s last CD, he saw the album as aconcept record based on 1980s fantasy adventure films, specifically The Goonies. The idea was to let a classic coming ofage movie inspire the feel of the record.
Casselman said the attention to building that 80s sound was precise and purposeful.
“We did our best to try and use gear that was available during the 80s or before,” he said, adding he purchased a drum setfrom the 60s all in an effort to add to that sense of authenticity.
“A lot of the guitars, guitar amps, basses and keyboards that we used were all from the 80s or prior to that, too. The gearthat we recorded on also was from the 80s.” The drums were recorded in a separate studio (everything else was recorded inlead singer Josh Ramsay’s apartment studio) and were also specially styled to resemble that unique 80s sound as well.
“It made them sound more like a record than a CD,” he explained. “They’re a little bit warmer and it’s a bit of a differentsound sonically.
“We were never trying to copy – we were using the 80s to inspire us. But if there was a cool sound, we would try andrecreate it.”
The whole concept was indeed a refreshing adventure for the band, he added, pointing out that frontman Ramsay can tendto get a bit bored in doing projects that might resemble each other a tad too much. “That’s why all of our albums sounddifferent. So it’s fun and it’s challenging, because it makes you put on a different hat so to speak.”
Ramsay even decorated the recording space with 1980s movie posters and album jackets.
“He said, ‘I’m going to show up everyday in leather pants,” said guitarist Matt Webb. “So we tightened up our pants, threwtank tops on and pretended we were eighties rock and roll stars.” Rounding out the band is bassist Mike Ayley.
“When you first release an album, a lot of fans want it to be the same as before,” noted Casselman. “They may have fallen inlove with a previous album so they want it to be the same. But maybe in the big picture, they don’t realize at the time thatthey might get bored of the new album pretty quick.
“When we released this album, it took me a week before I saw a negative comment about it on social media,” he said. “I tookthat as a really, really good sign.” The CD was self-produced but the guys brought a few experts on board in thecollaboration as well – such as Mike Fraser and Dave Ogilvie who Casselman describes as a fantastic mixer.
“I think that’s why it turned out like it did and why the sound is good, because we were allowed to do it ourselves and chaseit, but also there’s been an insane amount of work that’s gone into honing those skills.”
Meanwhile, Casselman recalls the start of his own fascination with the drums.
“My story is that I was about four and I was at a wedding with my parents, and there was a live band there,” he explained.“Supposedly, I was just enamored with the drummer,” he laughed. “My mom took me to meet him afterwards.”
The musician had him down at the drum set. “Whatever happened, he said to my my mom, ‘You should get this kid lessonswhen he’s older – there is something going on there.’ He gave me a pair of sticks, and the rest is history.”
He eventually joined a pipe band which solidified his skills that much further. “When it came time for high school, I was inevery musical ensemble – all the choirs and vocal jazz groups – whatever I could get my hands on, ” said Casselman, whoalso sings back-up for Marianas Trench.
He initially studied landscape architecture but music wielded an irresistible attraction. Eventually he put an ad in the paperin hopes of landing a spot in a local band.
Ramsay called him up and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, these days, the band is closer than ever, added Ramsay.
“I feel like this is our best moment, For me, Astoria is the record of my career so far – at least until we start the next oneand I go crazy again.”
Tickets are available by checking out www.ticketmaster.ca.