From Vancouver... Mike Ayley and Matt Webb of
Interview By: Libby Freeman
Had a chance talk with Mike Ayley and Matt Webb of the Vancouver punk/pop band Marianas Trench about their new release "Masterpiece Theater." I hope you enjoy!
PG- First, thanks for taking the time to let the Punk Globe readers know what you've been up to. Can give us a glimpse into your personal musical influences?
Mike Ayley- My personal influences are Depeche Mode, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins and I was exposed to (and enjoyed) some of my parents' music like The Beatles and Queen.
Matt Webb- Matt Webb, Guitar Player. I'm a huge fan of The Police, Tom Petty and The Foo Fighters. These days i've been listening to a lot of Phoenix, The Rolling Stones (Steel Wheels) and Death Cab.
PG- What inspired each of you to pick up an instrument and start playing music?
Mike Ayley- I played Trumpet when I was really young. Once I was a teenager I used to sneak into my brother's room when he wasn't home and play the Bass guitar and keyboard that would be laying around. The opportunity came up a while later to buy a sweet Rickenbacker quite cheap. I took advantage of it and have never looked back on my key instrument choice.
Matt Webb- My folks stuck me in piano lessons and a young age. Guitar looks cool so that's why i play it.
PG- How did John Ramsay's solo career develop into Ramsay's Fiction? Who was involved in Ramsay's Fiction?
Mike Ayley- Ian was in the Ramsay Fiction project the very end. Matt and I both joined the band once it was known as Marianas Trench.
Matt Webb- Thats a Ramsay question, when i joined, we were called MT.
PG- When did you become Marianas Trench? I really like the band name, what prompted you to become 'the deepest part of the world's ocean'? Is there any particular significance to the name?
Mike Ayley- Well, the hole in the ocean is actually named after us. When they were thinking of a name it was like "What will people associate with a bottomless black abyss that Mother Nature decided should be hidden by an almost infinite amount of water?" Much to our dismay it seems that globally the trench has gained notoriety and is now overshadowing us. Funny that.
Matt Webb- The name was chosen simply because there were no other band names available. Aerosmith, U2, and Def Leppard were already taken.
PG- It seems that the past few years have been favorable ones for Marianas Trench. In 2007 you won the SOCAN award for "Shake Tramp," and then 2009 had "Cross My Heart" winning a slew of awards. Have these accolades changed your lives?
Mike Ayley- I don't think winning awards has changed us as humans. Perhaps it gives us a bit of confidence in your ability to connect with our fans. A lot of these awards have been key moments in our growth as a band and in helping us make this band our primary source of work.
Matt Webb- I now have limited wall space for automotive and hot chick posters due to my abundance of plaques.
PG- Did the critical interest in "Cross My Heart" come as a surprise? What was the inspiration for this song?
Mike Ayley- I don't think we were surprised that the song reacted well. It may have overachieved our expectations a bit, but we'd really worked hard to build some momentum coming out of our debut album. I guess it was still a relief that our fans hadn't lost interest in us. That's always the biggest fear. The song is fairly "as it seems." We were on the road and Josh wrote the song in the back of the van.
PG- Marianas Trench's debut release seems to dance across so many different genres, can you tell the PG readers about "Fix Me"?
Mike Ayley- It's funny because when we did that record I thought it was awesome. I still enjoy it, but I have realized that it really didn't have a distinct sound. It was our first album and when you've got years and years worth of ideas stored up you kind of want to use them all. We pretty much did and sometimes I think the album feels like it needed to be streamlined a bit. We still play 4 or 5 of the tracks off of that album when we do concerts and i still really enjoy playing them.
Matt Webb- Fix Me had much more of a raw, rock sound. I think we were still struggling to find our true niche at that point.
PG- Any fun tales from the first tour?
Mike Ayley- Oh man, we had one tour in the early years. This one tour (not our first every, but it was our first headlining tour) we headed across Canada in our crappy little mini van pulling an over sized trailer. We left from Vancouver and less than an hour into the drive we hit a huge snowstorm. Another hour later we were jack knifed on the highway. We got straightened out only to get stranded on a very long, very icy incline in a national park. We where stuck there for almost an hour. Ian finally took the wheel and got us moving at about 3 mph for the next hour. Our first day 's 10 hour drive ended up being about 18 hours. We slept in this really strange hotel that just happened to have a room with 4 single beds in it. We got there at 3am and had to get up at 6am to make it to the first stop of the tour on time. We were exhausted. Anyway, after flipping through our map book for about 45 minutes Matt and I decided that we had found a short cut. We were really lucky and it was a short cut. It saved us about 2 hours on the drive. We got to our hotel, checked in and everyone headed to the rooms to grab a nap. Of course 5-10 minutes after we got to the rooms the fire alarm went off and didn't stop. Kind of annoying, but really, really funny looking back at it later. For the rest of the tour we were crossing the country at the exact same rate as a -40 degree cold front. We had white out conditions and snowy highways EVERY day of the tour. The van didn't make it home. We dubbed that tour "The Marianas Trench Flirting With Death tour."
Matt Webb- I watched a man who will go unnamed (close friend of the band) fall down a set of stairs like a slinky. I was convinced he was mortally wounded. Not necessarily from the fall but from the box of CD's that had landed square on his face. We proceeded to take several photos for the internet and continue on our way once we heard some alive noises.
PG- There seems to be a somewhat unreasonable expectation that bands release a follow up album to their debut in a time frame that doesn't seem to allow for a quality product. Any thoughts on this?
Mike Ayley- We did hear a lot of this between our 2 albums. People see a previous album's release date and think 2 years from that time there should be another album out at the latest. What they don't realize is that you spend 9 months a year on the road for a year and a half. After that you have to write, record, mix and master the album, shoot a video, shoot the pictures for the album and then assemble it all. I think it's worth taking a bit of extra time to make sure the songs are good and that when you record them you get the best performances possible. If the album is strong enough i believe that the extra time away won’t hurt the position of your band in the music scene.
Matt Webb- Totally. Bands come off the road and get rushed into a followup immediately. You spend your entire life writing your first record, and only months or weeks writing a follow up. Josh seriously came through in the clutch and delivered some great songs.
PG- I have heard MT's most recent release, "Masterpiece Theater" described as a concept album. Would you say that this is an accurate description? Can you tell the PG readers about the themes at work here?
Mike Ayley- It's not a concept album like Pink Floyd-The Wall or Nine Inch Nails-The Downward Spiral. It is meant to be listened in it's entirety. There is most definitely a theme that ties it together. There are 3 tracks named Masterpiece Theater. Part I is like an intro to the album. Part II is like the symphonic reprise that occurs at the beginning of act II and III is the climax of the album and touches on all the songs from the album quoting lyrics like you would see in a play where each key cast member comes out and sings a part of their song from the show.
Matt Webb- The idea was to have the record behave like a musical, with the grandiose introduction, symphonic reprise in the middle, and something crazy that sums it all up at the end.
PG- Alright, completely left field: Any real life ghost stories?
Mike Ayley- Yes. Ian and I lived in a haunted house. It sucked. There was a really crappy tension in the place at all times. There were literally "things that went bump in the night". There were true life apparitions. The actual stories would take a up a chapter of a book. Too much to get into.
Matt Webb- I lose sleep for days if i start thinking about Ian's stories.
PG- Does MT have any upcoming tour dates?
Mike Ayley- We have a few concerts and engagements coming up over the next couple of months. We're hoping to get on a US tour as part of our introduction of Masterpiece Theater to our new and potential US fans.
Matt Webb- Looks like we'll be hitting the USA hard through the end of the year.
PG- Thanks for making time to let the readers know what's up with ya'll. Any links to a website, Facebook page, etc. you'd like to share?
Mike Ayley- is a hub for most of our pages, but you can directly get us at and at Matt is and Josh is
Matt Webb- Check us out on twitter, we use it VERY actively and have a lot of fun with the fans. @mtrench, @joshramsay , and @mattwebbmt