Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I'm super excited that last week, I had an article/ interview published in TV Week Magazine! I got to interview Josh Ramsay, lead singer of the band Marianas Trench over the phone! He was really nice and had great answers :)

Here is the rest of the exclusive interview!

1. So the MMVAs are coming up next month. How does it feel to be nominated for not only one award, but a total of four?
Surprising! I did not… I definitely didn’t see it coming. I was excited when I found out about the first one. Because they announced one beforehand, before they did the other ones because we’re only up for one where there’s like online voting and stuff involved so they had to announce it earlier. And I was really excited about that one and I didn’t think there would be any others. Turns out we’ve won and I felt really fortunate to get that and then when I found out that it was like we got all these nominations and all the stuff that I’d heard about, I thought someone was joking at first when they first said it, when they were like “Dude, you’re like the second highest nomination!” [his reaction] “You’re F***ing serious?!” I don’t know, I was just…quite surprised with the whole thing, I still am a little shocked about it actually.

2. Have you prepared your acceptance speech? What will you say?
Oh god no, I don’t think we’re actually going to win anything. The only thing is…well see when we got nominated for the Junos, from our last record, we knew we were going to lose, like I knew were going into it umm, gonna lose. Like I was just kind of there for the fun of it and like I had…literally zero part of me thought we were going to win. The only thing I was surprised at was I didn’t think that Blue Rodeo were going to win it because it was an award for a video. And I was like I didn’t even know Blue Rodeo still existed, I mean I don’t mean that in disrespect for them but, it’s just, I doubt I’m on their radar either, you know? So somehow I’m expecting this year at the MMVAs, even though Blue Rodeo are not even nominated, they are somehow going to win in all the categories that we’re nominated in. I’m telling you, somehow.

3. All of your nominations are for the “Cross My Heart” video. What was your favourite part about making that video?
My favourite part about making… [laughs] wow…one of my favourite parts about making that video was that it was inside! Because we seemed to have this thing where we had like 3 videos in a row that were either completely or mostly shot outside and shooting outside was stressful for a lot of reasons. Like especially like there’s the daylight issue because you lose the light as the day goes on and there can be a lot of continuity problems in that and it’s also so weather dependant. Like still in hindsight, our video for Shaketramp, I still love that video but the only thing that was unfortunate about that video is that it was all outside but it happened to be a drizzly rainy Vancouver day so it was hard to make a video that was a parody of musical theatre look bright and glitzy how it’s supposed to look because it was cloudy! You know what I mean. And it was freezing cold too, so was Cross My Heart. It was so cold when we shot that video. I was cold for like a couple days after it. I could only imagine how cold the extras were. So I was quite excited this time round to do a video that was inside for any reason.

4. What was it like working with director Colin Minihan?
Colin’s awesome. I first met Colin um before I had worked with him on one of our videos, I worked with him a little bit on a video for a band called Social Code that I knew, and they’re friends of ours, and they called and asked me if I could do a little cameo in their video and Colin was directing it. And I met him there, it was like a video, it was a silly video about baseball and we had a lot of fun together and we just sort of struck up a relationship from there. And then when it was time to do Cross My Heart. We just said “Hey how about we try Colin?” I think what Colin’s skill is, is that it’s always hard to work within the restraints of Canadian budgets on videos because the Canadian market is just so small that you can’t really justify spending a million dollars on a video. So one of Colin’s many strengths is that he is able to make a video that was shot on a Canadian budget look like it was shot on an American budget. And that’s impressive for anybody.

5. Who came up with the concept for the “Cross My Heart” video?
Um well we both did. It was funny, I went in and met with him and umm…I actually haven’t told this story…I went in and met with him and I didn’t have any ideas and he didn’t either. And then he said you know the only thing I thought of is if we do something like a parade. Then I said Oh that’s funny because this song was going to be our second single, called “All To Myself,” and one of the lyrics in it in the chorus is “…please just follow me” So I was thinking about this video for that song. Where I would follow a girl who didn’t know that I was following her and slowly people would follow me until it became a giant parade and then we both went “well let’s just do that for this video!” So that video was actually written to be the video for “All To Myself” I had come up with that idea in the summer and I then thought that it was an interesting coincidence that I had come up with that idea and that Colin had also thought about doing something involving a parade so I figured it as a sign that we were supposed to do it for that video instead.

6. How involved are you and the band in the creative aspect/vision of your videos?
I’m usually pretty involved. I only got involved because I fell into it. When we started making videos on the first album, the way they do videos usually is like you send the song out to like say 5 or 6 directors who you like their stuff and they write what you call a “treatment” which is like a script for the video. And then you pick a director based on what their treatment was. So when it was on our first album, and our first video, I didn’t really like any of the treatments. They just didn’t seem right for capturing what we kind of wanted to be like, especially for your first video, you know, it’s kind of important what kind of personality you want to have. So I came up with this idea for a video for a song called Say Anything. Then I met with the director Kyle, who directed all the videos on our first record, and him and I just sort of started working on it together. I brought him the idea and then he liked it and he added to it, and then from that point forward, I just kept doing it like that. Like the 3 videos on the first record were sort of I would come up with an idea and then Kyle would add to it or in some circumstances Jonathan, one of the guys at our record label would add to it as well. So I just sort of stayed doing that. When it was with Colin as well, because it was something I enjoyed.

7. In your opinion, how important are videos for a band’s career these days?
It depends on the band. For my band specifically, they are very important because I think…on our first record we had a lot of problems about getting radio play because every radio station were confused about what format we were. Like rock stations said we sounded too pop and pop stations said we sounded too rock so nobody played it. So we couldn’t get any radio play really outside of Vancouver, Vancouver really embraced us, but outside of there we couldn’t get any action. So without Much Music getting behind us because they were the first big company that really got behind us, I think we have them to thank for…a whole bunch of our success is due to much music for supporting us. And they started playing our stuff and we were fortunate enough to have a really strong fan base that we have built up from internet stuff and touring, that they were requesting the videos a lot. And then we still hadn’t had a hit until Shake Tramp, which never really did that well on radio, but it went #1 on much music. And so for us, like that was really what opened the doors for us. Like after having one hit video, then when it was the next single from the next album, then radio stations knew who we were because they’ve at least heard about it and had seen that video, so then they started playing our songs from the second record. So for our band specifically, I’d say videos are like one of the top most important things that we’ve done. The thing with something like much music is…with a radio station, you have to get your song on every radio station for people to know it, like 2 per city, And much music is the only thing in the country that’s like a national founding board, you know what I mean. Everybody watches it and it can really really make an impact for the band. I know for us, it was like the hugest hugest…it was the most dramatic change we ever had in our career, when mm started playing us.

8. What is your favourite music video that you have made so far?
I like them all for different reasons, I think. I think the one most fun I’ve had making a video and the most grueling was probably shake tramp because it was so ridiculous, the whole idea of me dancing is just so bad because I can’t dance. So that was fun for me to do something that stupid. Cross my Heart was really fun because it was by far the largest scope video that we had done, like I was so pleasantly surprised because I was nervous going into it because it was the first single off the new album and I didn’t know if our fans were even still there because it had been a while since we put out anything and then we sent out an open call saying any fan who wanted to come to the video can be in it. So the call time for the extras was like 10:00 in the morning and the call time for the band was at like 6:30 or 7 and I got there at 7 and there was already a line up around the block of people who wanted to be in the video. And it was such an awesome thing for us to see and it was such an awesome energy too because, I thought it was a really cool thing that the fans who had been requesting our videos were now going to get to be in one so I thought it was a really cool sort of full circle moment for us.

9. What’s your favourite video of all time?
Wow, anything by Gondry is amazing. He’s one of my favourite directors for sure. Especially the Foo Fighters video for Ever Long I think is amazing. The video he did for Kylie Minogue where she walks around the block over and over again and there’s more of her every time she walks around, that one’s incredible. He did both those videos, he’s amazing. I think those are probably my 2 favourite ones I would say.

10. The MMVAs are all about the fans. How much of your success do you attribute to your fans?
All of it. Well I mean, it doesn’t matter how good your songs are, if you don’t have fans, what are you doing. That’s who buys your records, that’s who comes to your show, that’s who, you know, without that, you’re playing your songs by yourself in your mom’s basement and what’s fun about that? So I think we are so indebted to having the fan base that we do. And somehow, the thing I really love about our fans compared to the ones I see for other bands is that the people that like us are really die-hard about it and I don’t know what we did to deserve that, but it’s amazing. It’s such a neat experience to go up on stage and you can really feel that energy when you get up there. That’s a crazy crazy thing to experience.

11. Of all the MMVA nominees this year, who are you a fan of?
That’s a good question. I think I would have to look at the list to be totally accurate. I’m a fan… I like Billy Talent. Are they nominated for something? They probably are right, or maybe their videos came out too late actually…Funny thing is that Danny Fernandes, he’s got one more nomination than we do, and him and I don’t do the same music at all, but we did a TV show together and I really like him, he’s a really cool guy. And I’m looking forward to seeing him again at the MMVAs, I think that should be fun. And it’ll be fun too…I mean people seem to love or hate Nickelback, but clearly somebody out there is rooting for them because they’ve certainly got the sales, so yeah I’m looking forward to hanging out with them and stuff. Chad and I are friends but we don’t see each other that often, so that should be fun. I like the Midway State. I think that’s a really cool record. They opened for us two years before they had their album done, so maybe 2 years ago or something and I thought they were great, so I’ve been a fan ever since.

12. You took a couple of years after your debut record to release you latest album, “Masterpiece Theatre.” Why did you feel you needed the time?
I think there’s a bit of a misconception there because it felt to people like it there was a long time, but the reason why it felt like there was a long stage in between the records was because the hit we had on our first record was our last single but we had already been out and doing stuff for like a year and a half before that happened so I think for a lot of people who became fans of us at the end of that album cycle, didn’t really get that much time with us because they weren’t aware of the songs that we had released before that. And then we had that one song that did well, so it would seem like it was a really quick album cycle. So I think that’s part of why it feels like a long time. Because really to me, I don’t even think I had a day off in between. Like it was like we released the first album in 2006, toured for like 2 years which is the average life span for touring a record, toured it for like 2 years and then I took 6 months to write the album and then 6 months to record it and then here we are again. So I mean to me, I didn’t really have much time at all. I had like a couple weeks off and that’s about it.

13. Was it obvious from the start that “Cross My Heart” would be the first single off this album?
Not specifically. It was obvious that it was probably one of them, but I didn’t know it was going to be the first one at first. There were a couple contenders for what should be the first one. Cross My Heart was one of the first songs that I wrote for the record. The first 2 songs I wrote for the album actually are the first 2 singles. Cross My Heart and the one that just came out All To Myself, those 2 were the first 2 demos that I delivered. So what I tried to do was kind of get the singles out of the way so that I could focus on the stuff I enjoy writing more, which is the more artistic danger songs, for lack of a better phrase. So to get the pressure off of the singles, I kind of tried to make sure to write those first so I could focus on the crazier songs. So I had those ones in the bag first, and then I knew it was going to be one of those 2 but we didn’t know which one it would be until later on and then sort of when the album was close to finish, we all agreed that it should be that one and off we went.

14. So you’re nominated for four awards and Nickelback leads the pack with five nominations. What is it about Vancouver that breeds so many successful rock bands?
I don’t know. Maybe…that’s a good question man. I don’t maybe, maybe it’s…maybe people are more angsty in van because it rains all the time but I don’t think that’s the case because from my experience in Canada, the west coast was sort of the most mellow place. So it’s not that…I don’t know what that’s about. I think there’s a cool scene happening in Vancouver. I mean, for every talented band that’s successful from Vancouver, there’s another 10 that you haven’t heard of, who are equally as awesome. And I think that people are starting to notice that there’s a lot of cool stuff going on here.

15. How has being from Vancouver helped you grow/evolve as musicians?
I think for me, in some ways, it helped me not sound…I don’t mean this to sound bad and I hope that this won’t be taken the wrong way, but there’s a certain Canadian sound that people generally want to stay away from, like Canadian content sounding thing. Like the kind of song that really wouldn’t be on the radio unless they were forced to play Canadian music, you know what I mean, there’s that “Can-con” sound and I never wanted to be any part of that. And I think Vancouver is a little more isolated than most of the country because it’s behind the Rockies and BC is sort of its own little world that way. And I think it’s sort of that little bit of isolation that you get by living here, you get exposed to the good stuff but kind of keeps you not exposed to the stuff that’s no good, you know what I mean? So I think it was good for me that way for sure. There’s some really great history in Vancouver of a lot of great musicians coming from here. And I think myself being from here, because my dad owned a big recording studio, I was exposed to so many successful musicians, a lot of whom were from Vancouver. I think it made me feel like Vancouver is a small enough city that the peer group of really good musicians is a really tight knit community. And once you’re in with those people, you feel like you’re doing something. I mean it’s the same with any scene…I don’t really, I’m not too scenestry that way but I think when we were coming up when we were still very independent, there was a cool local scene that way that was fun to be a part of.

16. What do you miss most about Vancouver when you’re out on tour?
Well friends and family by far the most, more than any city. I miss the people that make up my life because it’s a really weird juggling act, juggling between, balancing between living on the road and living at home because it’s so drastically different. And it’s hard to maintain those close relationships and that’s something I always miss when we’re gone. Then about the city itself, I know most people complain about the rain in Vancouver, but being from here, rain is like my favourite weather. So I totally miss the rainy wet BC vibe.

17. Growing up, watching other band’s and artists’ videos on TV, did you ever think that you would be where you are today in the music industry?
That’s a loaded question. Because you have to believe in yourself enough or else you won’t get to that point so part of you had to have always thought that but at the same time you never actually think it’s going to happen. That’s the best way I can describe it. And yes, I did used to watch videos and be like one day I’m going to do that. One of the funnest things for me so far in terms of something I actually said like years ago that I actually got to do was: I remember saying like a long time ago, like being in high school and saying, when they first started Video On Trial, being like “you know what I’m going to be a judge on this show and I’m going to make fun of one of my own videos.” And then I got to do that about a year and a half ago and that was a fun feeling.

18. Finally, what’s up next for Marianas Trench?
Well we just released a new single and I’m always nervous every time we release a song because it was so hard for us to get a hit in the first place that every time since that we’ve had a successful song I always feels like it’s going to be the last one. That’s the neurotic in me I guess, but that’s sort of the healthy spirit that keeps me driven to work hard. But we just released a new song that is thankfully starting to do well, which I’m grateful about. And for the summer, we’re playing a lot of the big festival shows, which I’m really looking forward to because it gives you an opportunity to play with so many people, like tons. So we’re playing, like I think we’re headlining the opening night of the Calgary Stampede. Then the next day, this is going to be a bit of a sh*tty couple of days travel-wise, but then the next day we play in Prince Edward Island at a thing called the Festival of Lights. We’re playing the North by Northeast in Toronto and a festival in Winnipeg, one in the Okanogan in BC; we’re sort of bouncing around a lot, sort of touring all the festival circuits. I mean, that’s kind of what everyone does for the summer, most musicians do that for the summer because it gives you a chance to play, because so many people go to a festival where there’s like, like if you’re going to some festival where there’s like 20 bands, you may happen to be a fan of 5 of those bands, right, so chances are that you probably haven’t even heard a couple of them. So for a lot of bands it’s a great way to expose your music to new people and be exposed to new people because maybe they haven’t heard of you but instead of playing to 4000 people like you be would at your own show, you’re playing for 25 000 people and maybe some of them, hopefully at least some of them will go away as new fans of your band. It’s a great way of doing that in mass numbers.

still cant believe it :)

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