Vancouver pop-rock quartet Marianas Trench burst onto the Canadian music scene in 2006 with the hit singles “Say Anything” and “Shake Tramp” from their debut album, Fix Me. With their quirky, catchy lyrics, bright harmonies and bombastic pop production, the band has gone on to release multiple gold- and platinum-certified singles — including “Cross My Heart,” “All to Myself,” Desperate Measures” and “Stutter” — and two platinum albums: Masterpiece Theatre (2009) and Ever After (2011). Ever After helped Marianas Trench win its first Juno Award, for Group of the Year, in 2013. The band has received four other Juno nominations and five MuchMusic Video Awards from 22 nominations.
Singer, guitarist, producer and lyricist Josh Ramsay grew up in Vancouver in a musical family. His father, BC Entertainment Hall of Fame inductee Miles Ramsay, co-founded Vancouver’s legendary Little Mountain Sound recording studio and worked as a successful jingle-writer and pitchman (he wrote the A&W root beer theme and appeared in various TV commercials). Ramsay’s mother, Corlynn Hanney, was a session singer who sang backup for Leonard Cohen, and later became a vocal coach for the likes of Bryan Adams and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson.
In high school, Josh sang in choirs, struggled with eating disorders and heroin addiction, and had a band called Ramsay Fiction. He then formed Marianas Trench (named after the world’s deepest section of ocean) with guitarist Matt Webb, drummer Ian Casselman and bassist Mike Ayley. The group eventually signed a deal with 604 Records, a label formed by Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and artist manager Jonathan Simkin. Marianas Trench released a self-titled, six-track EP in 2002, which included material that later appeared on their debut album, Fix Me (2006).
Fix Me (2006)
Produced by Marianas Trench and David Genn (54–40,Matthew Good Band), the radio-ready punk-pop album Fix Me was released on 3 October 2006. The lead single, “Say Anything,” which was written by Ramsay while he was in rehabilitation for heroin use, reached No. 3 on the Canadian Singles Chart. It was followed by “Decided to Break It,” which reached the Top 20 on the Canadian Singles Chart and was featured in an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
The third and final single, “Shake Tramp,” stalled at No. 65, but the video for the song was much more popular and claimed the top spot on the MuchMusic Countdown on 10 August 2007. “Shake Tramp” was also nominated for a 2008 Juno Award. Marianas Trench toured across Canada with label-mates Faber Drive to support the album, which Sun Media’s David Schmeichel described as “adrift with swirling harmony arrangements and a cappella flourishes that owe an obvious debt to Queen, the Beach Boys and Ben Folds Five.”
Masterpiece Theatre (2009)
The band showed more willingness to experiment and broaden its horizons on Masterpiece Theatre, which was introduced by the punk-pop lead single “Cross My Heart” in December 2008 before the album followed on 24 February 2009. The song’s video was the second straight from Marianas Trench to reach No. 1 on the MuchMusic Countdown, and its digital download was certified double platinum for selling more than 80,000 units. Masterpiece Theatre debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Canadian album chart and went on to be certified platinum for selling more than 80,000 copies. Another hit single, “Beside You,” also hit No. 1 on the MuchMusic Countdown.
Masterpiece Theatre featured production work from Genn, Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida, Treble Charger lead singer and Sum 41 producer/manager Greig Nori, and former Skinny Puppy member Dave Ogilvie. It was released in the US on 28 September 2010 with two bonus tracks: an alternate version of “Good to You” and an acoustic version of “Cross My Heart.” The director’s cut edition — with a cover of Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes,” an alternate version of “Good to You” featuring Jessica Lee, and acoustic renditions of “Cross My Heart” and “Celebrity Status” — was released on 30 November 2010. The band toured on its own, opened a tour for Simple Plan and played its first US show in support of Masterpiece Theatre.
Ever After (2011)
Marianas Trench’s ambitious, more pop-oriented third album, Ever After, was released in Canada on 21 November 2011 and a month later in the US. It peaked at No. 8 in Canada and No. 100 in the US, and was certified platinum in Canada for selling 80,000 copies. Featuring 12 tracks that flowed continuously from one to the next (all produced by Ramsay), the concept album came with a booklet that further conveyed it’s fairytale-like narrative. “All the songs live on their own as songs, but they also serve the purpose of telling the story throughout the record,” said Ramsay.
“Haven’t Had Enough” preceded the album by four months and claimed the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Canada chart, received a platinum certification and reached No. 9 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart. Second single “Fallout” and the power ballad “By Now” were both certified gold in Canada, while “Desperate Measures” and “Stutter” were certified platinum. The band supported the album by touring in Canada, the US, Australia and the Philippines, as well as at the 2012 Grey Cup halftime show, which also included performances by Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Gordon Lightfoot. Ever After was certified platinum in Canada. It was nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the 2012 Juno Awards and Album of the Year at the 2013 Junos, where the band also performed while picking up a Fans Choice nomination and a trophy for Group of the Year.
In April 2013, Marianas Trench signed with Cherrytree Records and Interscope Records for future international releases, while remaining with 604 in Canada. A four-song EP titled Face the Music was released internationally a month later with "Haven't Had Enough" and "Desperate Measures," as well as acoustic versions of "Haven't Had Enough" and "Fallout."
Work began on a fourth album in late 2013. After the band performed at the annual Canada Day concert on Parliament Hill in Ottawa alongside Serena Ryder, its single/video “Pop 101” was issued on 28 July 2014. It immediately became the No. 2 song on the iTunes Canada chart and was later certified a gold digital download in Canada. The band performed in Australia and New Zealand later in the year, and released another single and video, “Here’s to the Zeros,” on 25 December 2014 in Canada and the US, and worldwide several days later. Performances in Atlantic Canada and a nine-city US tour followed in spring and summer of 2015. The band then performed at the Panamania Festival during the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. Its fourth album, Astoria, was slated to be released in late 2015.
Ramsay has written and produced music for Carly Rae Jepsen, including her Grammy-nominated global smash hit “Call Me Maybe.” He’s also worked in various capacities with Holly McNarland, Faber Drive, Jakalope, Suzie McNeil and Nickelback, among others. In 2010, he sang on Young Artists for Haiti’s cover of K’Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag,” a fundraising single for Haitian earthquake relief. Guitarist Matt Webb released a seven-song EP titled Coda and Jacket on 28 June 2011.
MuchMusic Video Awards
Director of the Year (2009)
Cinematography of the Year (2012)
Pop Video of the Year (2012)
Pop Video of the Year (2013)
Your Fave Video (2013)
SiriusXM Indies – Independent Music Awards
Favourite Single (“Cross My Heart”) (2010)
Favourite Video (“Cross My Heart”) (2010)
Favourite Single (“Celebrity Status”) (2011)
Pop Artist/Group of the Year (2011)
Video of the Year (“Fallout”) (2013)
Pop Artist or Group of the Year (2013)
SOCAN No. 1 Song Award (“Shake Tramp”) (2007)
Pop Recording of the Year (“Masterpiece Theatre”), Western Canadian Music Awards (2009)
Emerging Artist Award, Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards (2010)
Best Vancouver Rock Artist/Band, Urban Culture Conference Awards (2011)
Group of the Year, Juno Awards (2013)
Fans Choice, Canadian Radio Music Awards (2013)