Pop Counter Culture has been following Josh, Matt, Mike and Ian, better known as Marianas Trench since 2006’s Fix Me and we would sincerely like to report that they have matured since the Shake Tramp era, but they haven’t. And that’s exactly why we and the rest of the world loves them so dearly!
Pop Counter Culture: Congratulations on releasing Masterpiece Theatre: The Director’s Cut!
Mike Ayley: Thank you very much. We’re pretty stoked about it actually. We were in 604 Records a couple of days ago actually signing, I swear a million things, for radio stations in the States and for fans who bought the new one. I got two free copies from the record label and haven’t even opened them. I don’t know if I want to. I’ll probably just open one to check out the bonus content to see what was actually packaged.
PCC: When did you guys decide to release the album with the extra material?
MA:The director’s cut is sort of like the platinum edition because Masterpiece Theatre was at a point where it was really close to achieving platinum certification. So we decided to do something to celebrate and it’s fun for us to do something extra…we spent a couple of months thinking about what we wanted to put on there to make it, for the people that already have the record, worth getting again. There are four bonus songs. What’s the show on Much Music where everybody jokes around and makes fun of the videos? Video on Trial. We did a Video on Trial type of thing for all of our own videos. There’s a DVD, a CD with the bonus songs, and a couple of little things in there too. We didn’t want to just re-release it and call it something else and have one extra song and expect people to pay for it. Last thing I ever wanted it to be was some sort of money-grab. I remember seeing other bands do that and I mean why would you do that?
PCC: It seems like you guys put in a conscious effort to make Masterpiece Theatre an album to listen to from beginning to end.
MA: I’m happy to hear you say that because I think that’s one of the things we’re most proud of from the record is how it turned out to be a real album. It’s like a novel. You’re not just reading a chapter from the book. If you listen to the whole thing, I find the whole thing is better especially when you get to “Masterpiece Theatre Part III” because a lot of the stuff will seem even better in that song. Yes, that was definitely the idea, creating that continuity from start to finish.
PCC: Jessica Lee is used for the single version of “Good to You”. You guys found her through a Youtube competition right?
MA: That’s correct. It was late February, early March and we decided to have a Youtube contest. The real idea was just to have someone join us for a show we did at Massey Hall. Jessica was our favourite. There was another one that we really liked who ended up doing just a show with us in Toronto, but Jessica came on for the Massey Hall show and she had never done a show before, didn’t have vocal training or anything. She was really cool and had a really good performance. We were totally stoked with her and she played again in Ottawa and had another great run at it. So when we decided to do the video, we called her up and asked if she could do it. She was into that and we asked if she could come out an extra day early so we could record her in the track and put you in the album.
PCC: How much fun was the making of the “Celebrity Status” video?
MA:That’s my favourite one we’ve ever done. It was like an 18 hour day and we had another half day, but it was so much fun doing all these ridiculous things. You look like a total tool in half the scenes – a couple we actually look okay like in the rock scenes, but the cop segment where we’re running around in the alley and Josh and Matt are in these leather vest with no shirts, and Ian and I are police officers chasing them down. That was so much fun. Then the 90210 one was hilarious. We were laughing the whole day doing it. The scene where we’re selling the George Foreman-style grill, Josh and I are sitting there and I don’t know if we actually showed it on the video, but it was sort of improvising as we go and Josh is like, ‘the onions are great.’ I was like ‘yeah they are’, and ate the onion like an apple. I had a big bite of it and my eyes were watering.
PCC: Is a third album in the works?
MA: Yes definitely. I don’t think we have any shows until late February in the US, so it’s going to be seven weeks off to start the year and a couple of weeks off after that show. I would guess our goal is to get two of the songs recorded, maybe more. We’re just going to try to get them off a couple at a time, run off and do a week or two of touring in the States rather than go start to finish in the studio. This way it’s a little easier and a little less pressure rather than writing 14 songs and picking the 12 best.
PCC: Over the years you guys have played a lot of venues in Vancouver. Do you have a favourite?
MA: Over the years, wow. We’ve played dozens really because this is where we started out. We’ve played the Buffalo Club back in the day and Richards on Richards. The Commodore is pretty wicked. Orpheum I’m looking forward to because I really love the theatre shows. My favourite Vancouver show we’ve ever done is when we did the PNE at the end of the summer and there were gigantic amounts of people, like 15,000 – 20,000 people. The biggest show of the PNE, apparently. We were shocked to find out and happy to find out.
PCC: Yeah, and the PNE series headlined legends like Cyndi Lauper and Joan Jett.
MA: And Huey Lewis! We went and saw Huey Lewis a few days before our show because we had a couple of days off. It was such a great crowd and nobody left. Shows included with admission you have a big crowd at the beginning and people begin slipping out, but they were all there at the end and that’s always a really good sign.
PCC: Is it strange having your younger fans, especially those attending the shows with their parents, shouting back the lyrics to songs like “Shake Tramp” to you?
MA: I sometimes wince when I think about that one particular song. The rest of them are fine, but that one I’m like, I hope the parents know what that song is about, you know? Because it’s not as it sounds and it definitely does not sound good if you don’t know.
PCC: Last year PopCounterCulture asked you guys about being attached to 604 Records. You guys said, “We’d rather take risks and be mediocre or fail than do what everyone else is doing.” With all your success, are you guys still the huge risk takers as before?
MA: Yeah, I think with the next album, the one we’re working on we are going to try to, it’s kind of hard to say because it’s not written yet, but do the same kind of thing and expand our sound and go outside the box a little bit and do some cool things, while putting forward songs that people can still understand and digest. Some bands get a little too far out there and lose the song writing craft. And I think show wise, we are going to try to bring a few more things to the concerts and the Orpheum is the first test for that.
PCC: 2010 was a big year for your guys. How can you guys top that and what can fans expect for 2011?
MA: We’ll see when the record comes out. It depends on how fast we get it recorded, but hopefully there will be a brand new album and video and a bunch more shows the second half of the year sometime. Hopefully we’ll get to see a lot more of the States too because it would be neat to see different parts of another country. We’ve seen so much of Canada which I love, but it’s always neat to see new places, the culture and the crowds.