Matt Webb, lead guitarist with the Canadian band Marianas Trench, spoke with me recently about the band and their latest disc, Masterpiece Theatre. These guys play a brand of pop/punk that is extremely catchy. Powerful vocals and great melodies combine with deeply personal introspective lyrics that resonate long after the songs are over. Universal themes such as drug addiction and withdrawal and failed relationships are all issues that are real and easy to relateable. Marianas Trench has been nominated for a Juno award and with the help of their extremely successful single, “Celebrity Status”, Masterpiece Theatre has seen Platinum sales in Canada. Here is what Webb had to say.
Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
Matt: Josh writes all the songs for MT. Typically he will demo a new track, and then the rest of the band will come in and add or subtract a few ideas. We’ll go into the studio together and keep working till we’re happy with the end results.
I am familiar with the Marianas Trench, but what is the significance of calling the band by that name?
Matt: We chose the name Marianas Trench because all other band names were taken. Aerosmith was unavailable, as was Michael Bubble. That really leaves nothing but Marianas Trench which has a nice, pleasant jangle to it.
Now that you have had a little bit of time to sit on and live with Masterpiece Theatre is there anything you would go back and change?
Matt: There are always little things you’re unhappy with when you listen back to past recordings. You know, fix the guitar tuning here and there, and sing something a little differently. But those are just tiny details. Overall I think we made a great record, one that I’m really proud of. The song writing is consistently super strong throughout and I love playing these songs live over and over again every night.
Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Matt: “Celebrity Status” is my personal favorite on the record. It’s a blast to play live because the crowd really gets into it. I remember one awesome day when we were recording that song in the studio, our engineer Scotty decided to eat as many burgers as he could. By the end of the day his forehead was aggressively glistening from the “meat sweats” and he could only mumble various protein related words. We dubbed that day “Meat Day”, and I remember it vividly every time I play that song.
When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Matt: Absolutely! Bass player Mike and I were driving one afternoon while the other dudes slept in the back of the van. We rolled into a gas station in the middle of nowhere that was completely out of gas. I walked inside the store to buy a Coke or something, commented to the clerk that it was a “nice day outside”. And in a very serial killer kind of response, she replied “FOR NOW” while swiftly disappearing into the back of the store. I swear I could hear the sound of an axe being hastily sharpened so I grabbed Mike and we booked it the hell out of there.
When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Matt: Oh man, where to begin. In one day we had what was supposed to be a 7 hour drive turn into a 26 hour nightmare in which our windshield exploded, we narrowly escaped driving over several giant cliffs, had to push our van uphill through a blizzard, did a triple axle with the trailer on some sketchy ice road and blocked the busiest highway in Canada for half an hour, there was more. How did we solve this problem? By getting as tired as humanly possible and eating a Shawarma.
What kind of touring plans do you have in support of the record?
Matt: We’ll tour anywhere they’ll have us. I love playing live and can’t wait to hit the road again soon.
What artists would fans be surprised to find on your iPod?
Matt: Hmm, I’ve been listening to a lot of Phoenix and Pete Yorn lately… surprised? Uhhh, Taylor Swift?
Tell me about a book or two that you’ve read that you think other people should read?
Matt: I’m working my way through the Keith Richards book “Life” right now. Read it, it’s awesome.
If you had not become a musician what other career path would you have liked to attempt?
Matt: I think I’d be in finance, maybe a broker or something.
What three words best describe your band?
Matt: Super fucking rad.
If you were a superhero, who would it be and why?
Matt: Batman. That guy has almost as many gadgets as our guitar tech. Plus you can speak in a really low gruffly voice and look cool. “Do I look like a cop?”
What is the one thing you absolutely insist upon in your rider?
Matt: Mint Cliff Bars. Those are the most disgusting protein/meal replacement bars in the world. We make people eat them for money.
If you could jam with any famous musician, dead or alive, from any century, who would it be and why?
Matt: I’d like to jam with the Police or Dave Grohl maybe. That would be sick.