Canadian rockers hailing from Vancouver, Marianas Trench are currently the band to look out for at the moment, especially after the release of their fourth album, Astoria, just last month. Though they originally started off with the name Fix Me, the foursome quickly decided to change the band’s name to Marianas Trench – it doesn’t seem to be the kind of decision that had some huge moment of inspiration as these things usually go, but in the end, it was probably one of the best decisions the band has ever taken, as it’s become a sort of brand name for one of the most popular bands in Canadian music today.
Fix Me was eventually reused as the name for their debut album, and it is also the name of one of their songs that was on their EP, Marianas Trench – it was released several years before Fix Me, and features some of the songs that were re-recorded for the debut album. The band is made up of lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Josh Ramsay; lead guitarist, Matt Webb; bassist, Mike Ayley; and drummer, Ian Casselman. Matt, Mike and Casselman also sing backup vocals on almost every Marianas Trench song.
The primary force behind the music is Josh Ramsay, which evidently leads to a mass of songs that are about the struggles he has faced throughout his life; his life, that is more well documented than the rest of the members of the band: as a teenager, Ramsay struggled with anorexia, bulimia and an addiction to heroin – the latter which resulted in him being kicked out of high school and being sent to rehab at the extremely young age of 17. As a result, these are all themes prominent throughout the band’s entire musical career so far.
After the release of the aforementioned EP in 2002, it was a long wait for their debut album, Fix Me, in 2006. It has a more punk sound to it than anything they have produced ever since, and it is something that goes along perfectly with the trigger heavy topics featured on the album. With songs like “Alibis“, “Low” and “Alive Again” talking about depression and the feelings associated with it. The most hard-hitting song on the album is, however, “Skin & Bones“, a song that paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to struggle with an eating disorder.
Three years later, in 2009, Marianas Trench released their second album, Masterpiece Theatre. This album went in a completely different direction in comparison to the previous one, as Masterpiece Theatre contains more theatrical elements and instruments, but at the same time, the punk rock influence from Fix Me is prevalent. Masterpiece Theatre is composed in such a way that each song perfectly fades into the next, creating a rather elegant atmosphere that can only be replicated if you listen to it in its entirety.
This album features such hits like “Cross My Heart”, “All To Myself” and “Celebrity Status”. What’s special about this album is that it has three different tracks entitled “Masterpiece Theatre, Part 1/2/3”, and each one serves as a beginning, a middle and an end to the album, and every song on this album intricately fades into the next one, creating a whole work of art, instead of what usually feels like just a compilation of songs. Listen below to “Part 3”, as it incorporates bits and pieces of all the songs in the album and gracefully brings it to a close.
Additionally, one of the singles off of this album, “Good To You” was re-recorded with a fan, Jessica Lee (who also stars in the music video), which subsequently helped launch her career, and one of the most important songs on the album is “Lover Dearest”, as it is a love letter Ramsay wrote to his drug addiction while still in rehab. After Masterpiece Theatre, the wait for a brand new album wasn’t as long: it was only two years later, in 2011, when Marianas Trench released their third album, Ever After.
Once again, the band decided to branch of in another direction, and decided to create a concept album. Concept albums have been long since associated to bands like Coheed And Cambria and My Chemical Romance – both bands have concept albums spanning throughout the entirety of their musical careers, and have managed to perfect this particular art in this genre. In keeping that alive, Marianas Trench created something that perfectly shows how they just keep getting better and better with each new release.
Ever After takes us through a fictional place called Toyland and, aided with the help of the five music videos that accompany this album, we bear witness to Ramsay’s adventurous journey through this foreign place and the many dangers it presents. Once again, theatrical elements and instruments have been incorporated in this album, and it effortlessly fades from one song into the next. What’s more, while touring this album, each show was helped along with the local choir of whichever city they were in. Listen below to the foot-tapping beat, “Desperate Measures”:
After the final Ever After music video was released in August 2013, the next bit of music that trickled out of the Marianas Trench camp was “Pop 101” and “Here’s To The Zeros”, both in 2014. Both addressed the world of mainstream music, though in very different ways: “Pop 101” made light of how most generic pop songs and videos are made, while “Here’s To The Zeros” went a bit deeper and served as an anthem for anyone that doesn’t fit the ‘clean-cut’ image of the pop industry. Both songs were later released in an EP, with two older songs, “Primetime” and “Sicker Things”. They are both from their 2002 EP, and both deal with Ramsay’s addiction and depression from his teenage years.
Their fourth album, Astoria, was released about a month ago, on the 23rd of October. It was an evidently long wait for fans, but it was no less a harrowing time for the band. The past two years were rather tumultuous for Marianas Trench, particularly for Josh Ramsay: watching his mother fall ill, parting ways with his fiancée and ending up in the hospital, earlier this year, due to pancreatitis are just some of the things he went through while attempting to write the run-up to Ever After. Despite these extremely difficult times, it all resulted in the creation of Astoria, an album that was inspired by 80s adventure films, particularly ‘The Goonies’, and speaks rather eloquently about loss.
With songs like “Forget Me Not” that speak about Ramsay’s mother’s illness, and “Dearly Departed” and “While We’re Young” that are directly about losing someone extremely important to oneself, it also features more upbeat songs like “Shut Up and Kiss Me” and “Burning Up”, and yet, despite everything, it still ends on a hopeful tone. Once again, each song on this album transitions perfectly into one another. You can buy Astoria here or here on iTunes.
Marianas Trench bring something brand new to the worldwide music scene, with beautiful music and equally wonderful vocals – Ramsay’s vocal range rings out clearly in the songs provided above, along with the way the rest of the band harmonise with him, creating an ensemble like no other. There’s something unique and inspiring in the way Marianas Trench interacts with music and the world around them, making everyone vulnerable to being pulled directly into their world, a world that serves as a sanctuary and a relief from everyday ups and downs.
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Words by Qurat-ul-anne Sikander
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