Josh Ramsay: Ten Years in the ‘Trench’

Marianas Trench frontman, Josh Ramsay, speaks to Joe Leary about the growth of the band and breaking into the US market


The Marianas Trench frontman on winning awards, growing as a band and making it big in the US

After nearly ten years together, Vancouver rockers Marianas Trench rank among the most exciting recording acts to emerge on the Canadian music scene, replete with searing vocals and pitch-perfect harmonies that are coupled with an electrifying on-stage presence that simply raises the performance bar several notches. 
Already with a series of number one records to their credit and having amassed multiple awards and countless nominations in the process, lead singer Josh Ramsay tells me the band is now seeing similar results south of the border.     
“The US has been very supportive so far,” says Ramsay.
“I first felt uneasy at the huge aspect of starting all over in another country but after seeing such a great response, I feel overwhelmingly lucky.”
Lucky isn’t really an apt description as Marianas Trench has worked tirelessly over the years honing their sound and live performance, while achieving a tremendous run of success on the Canadian radio airwaves.

The growth of Marianas Trench

Ramsay feels the band has developed and matured along the way.  
“As a band, we’re tighter than we’ve ever been,” he says. “That comes from so much repetition from so much touring. The great thing is that nothing on stage can surprise us anymore. Anything can go wrong, and we’ll be fine with it. In fact, it’s the shows where things screw up that seem to end up being the most fun. I like the atmosphere onstage when we’re all laughing at ridiculous things that are going wrong. 
“And as a writer and producer, I guess I’ve grown too. I think if you’re working, you should always be growing and improving. I find the best way to look at it is that I haven’t written my best stuff yet. I try and think of every song like it could be my last one. And if it’s the last song you’re ever gonna write, you better hope it’s a good one.”

On collaborative projects outside of the band

In addition to his duties as the charismatic frontman of Marianas Trench, Ramsay – who embarked on a solo career at the age of 14 – has devoted his talents to a number of collaborative side projects, including recording duets with former <em>Canadian Idol</em> contestant Carly Rae Jepsen and fellow Juno nominee, pop singer Danny Fernandes. 
“I really enjoy working on projects outside of MT,” Ramsay tells me.
“I’ve been writing and producing for a lot of other acts and really enjoy the challenge of writing a song for someone who’s outside my genre. It pushes me to be diverse and I learn something new every time. I have a lot of other upcoming ones that I’m excited about, but shouldn’t spoil it by letting the cat out of the bag just yet.”

Josh Ramsay and the ‘it’ factor

As co-founder of Vancouver’s red-hot 604 Records, Jonathan Simkin says that Ramsay’s talent was obvious to him early on and apparent to all, well in advance of him and business partner Chad Kroeger inking the group to a record deal. 
“I wouldn’t sign a band if I didn’t think they had the chance to become huge,” says Simkin, “and certainly the Marianas Trench story has been super satisfying this year – and that’s a band I always felt that way about. Josh Ramsay was just a teenager when I started working with him. There are certain artists who just exude that “it” factor. Josh has got “it”!

As the awards pour in

Josh and his fellow MT band mates have also got a slew of awards and glowing accolades from both their fervent fanbase and record-buying public at large to show for their efforts.    
While flattering to any artist to be sure, he notes it should only ever be treated as a by-product of success – not a motivating factor. 
“We have felt very lucky every time we’ve been nominated for anything and I’m very proud of any awards we have been fortunate enough to win,” Ramsay tells me. 
“But at the same time, awards and any sort of acclaim is not why I got into the entertainment industry. I think if you chase after that stuff, you aren’t actually doing the real work you’re supposed to be doing, so I really only worry about the next song I’m writing. Awards or not, I still need to get it written – if it wins something; great. If it doesn’t, I’m completely fine with that too. Some of the most influential artists for me never won anything. You have to do it for the love it, not the approval.”