In the trenches with Marianas Trench

Karissa Clancy in a backstage – make that stockroom – chat with Canadian rockers Marianas Trench. Photo by Maggie Herdzik.

Live! Starring … You!’s teen reporters have done interviews in some pretty interesting places. (Our favorites are backstage and on tour buses!) But this was a “first,” and it remains an “only”: When we first interviewed the superstar Canadian rock band Marianas Trench, we did it in the stock room of the Garage store in the Walden Galleria shopping center in Buffalo.

Outside the store was a massive crowd of fans – many of them from MT’s home country, which is just 15 minutes from the mall – clamoring to meet them.

Inside the storeroom, LSY! teen reporter Karissa Clancy – along with videographer Maggie Herdzik and LSY! founder Tim O’Shei – had a wide-ranging, insightful conversation with lead singer Josh Ramsay, guitarists Mike Ayley and Matt Webb, and drummer Ian Casselman. They chatted about songwriting, life on the road, what it’s really like to be famous, and more. Here’s the conversation:

Karissa: What’s the hardest part about life on the road?

Matt Webb: Probably being away from your bed at home.

Mike Ayley: I find the hardest part the extremely low quality of food intake and the extremely low quality of sleep.

Ian Casselman: I agree – too much fast food.

Karissa: How have you taken situations in your life and put them into a song?

Josh Ramsay: Well, you put the pen on the paper …At least the way I write, it’s sort of like I do that instead of keep a diary. So whatever I’m sort of feeling that day that I happen to write that song is what is going to go into it. It can be an uncomfortable thing—then you feel like people are reading your diary, so that can be a little uncomfortable. But I find the best stuff in anybody’s artwork is usually the stuff that’s more personal. That’s what I gravitate toward enjoying, so that’s kind of what I try to write.

Karissa: The business is normally portrayed as glamorous. What part of the business do people usually not see?

Webb: Where you sit in stockrooms in clothing stores in malls.

Ramsay: We realized today that it doesn’t matter how big you are – you can be the Rolling Stones big, and you’re always always going to enter the venue from a crappy, dirty alley that smells like feces. Always.

Karissa: What advice would you give a young teen who wants to get famous?

Casselman: If you’re doing it to get famous, you’re doing it for the wrong reason and you’re going to be in big trouble. I think it’s going to screw with your head.

Ayley: Whatever part of the entertainment industry you’re in – if it’s acting, it’s music, if it’s writing or painting or whatever, you have to really, really love it. Because there are a lot of days, especially the first  seven or eight thousand, where you’re not going to get anywhere. At least it feels like that many, anyway. And if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re not going to get past all the hurdles that happen on the way. So it’s got to be something you’re really passionate about.

Ramsay: If you get into it to be famous – the people who tried to get in because of that are always a joke. They’re never the people who are actually good, I find. I’m not going to say any names, but I can think of a few people we know who got into it for that, and no one takes them seriously. I think for us, for me, I just wanted to play music for living and sing songs for a living. Any sort of notoriety that came with that, I view that as a side effect of what we do for a living. It’s not the point. In fact, honestly, if I could do the exact same job and no one anywhere would know who I was, I would pick that. Honestly.

Ayley: We did that for five years.

Ramsay: No, I mean if we could be as successful as we’ve been lucky enough to be, but I could do that without anybody knowing who I was, I would absolutely do that, 100 percent of the time. Like the bands who wear masks.

Karissa: How have your lives changed since becoming a band?

Ayley: You have to share a lot of stuff, like personal space, time, toothbrushes. For a long time when we were very poor in the beginning, making fifty dollars a show, beds. We had two guys to a bed. Four guys in one hotel room. There was a lot of jockeying for the idea bathroom position because you wanted to be the first guy so you had fresh towels and everything.

Ramsay: So you’re saying your life has changed in terms of your personal space with you and three other dudes is less valuable?

Ayley: Yes.

Karissa: Were there any goals that have come true?

Ramsay: I think you always have, no matter what stage you’re at, even now, you always have the next goal that you have to get to. I think if you attack something in terms of, like, I want to have world domination, you’ll never get there. You have to have small goals. I remember when our goal was, ‘I want to sell out a place in Vancouver’ – our hometown. Then it became, ‘I want to be able to sell out a place in another city,’ even if it’s a small venue that’s only like 25 people. When we got to that, we felt like we’d accomplished something. You always have that next goal, and I think it’s important to do that. If you look for the end game the whole time, you’re going to freak out.

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