The members of Marianas Trench in a room, backed against a wall with two lamps and a painting

Exclusive Interview: Marianas Trench discuss Phantoms, touring and much more

Vancouver based Marianas Trench never disappoint with there unique album concepts and their fifth studio album Phantoms is no different.

The striking and haunting album packs a punch with breathtaking harmonies and emotion-stirring lyrics. It explores the theme of lost love and been Haunted by ‘the one’. A perfect mix of high energy and slower tracks the album never loses momentum from start to end overall. Phantoms showcases a darker side influenced by real-life experiences.

CelebMix got the chance to chat to Marianas Trench drummer Ian Casselman about Phantoms, upcoming USA and European tours and so much more.

Your albums tend to have an overall theme to them Phantoms been no exception with its haunted vibe how did this concept come around?

That one came about when we had a show in New Orleans. On a day off walking around, we were taken back by the voodoo culture there and a culture that surrounds death but it’s not necessarily a dark culture it’s quite celebrated we enjoyed that twist on it. Then on the same tour, we played in a couple of haunted venues. There’s a famous venue called The Rave in Milwaukee that’s haunted and another one in grand rapids Michigan. So, we took tours of them and had really neat experiences there so a combination of those experiences helped lead to the concept for phantoms.

The next leg of the USA tour starts in a couple of weeks how do you incorporate the theme of the Phantoms album into the show?

A little bit with I don’t want to say the word costumes but sometimes we almost have a costume with what we wear to try and incorporate it in. We have videos we play throughout the show at the beginning before that last song and a couple intermixed into the set. We shot those in a place that is a bit haunted in Vancouver. Lighting can help set the atmosphere but it’s mainly with the videos.

What’s your favourite thing about touring?

I guess seeing new cities for the first time. The first time we ever played Europe was probably one of my best touring experiences. I really enjoy the culture over there, it has so much history and I love seeing the different cities and architecture. In the UK even when you go from city to city the vibes a bit different and people are a little bit different. In Europe cell phone culture is pretty big but at our first show in Glasgow when we were coming onto stage people were super fired up but when we started playing it was just very quiet, I looked up everyone was just staring at us looking around I didn’t see one cell phone and I thought do they like it do they hate it? what’s happening it was so foreign to me. When we finished the first song everyone just started screaming again and I was like Woah, I really really appreciated the attention they gave the music. In Europe I found people are very appreciative of art I guess when you listen to music over there it’s more diverse and I think it made being a musician more personal and less business. I enjoyed the performing aspect more I felt like I was performing more instead of just entertaining it was something new.

It’s been said in the past that with this album [Phantoms] you used instruments you hadn’t in the past and a lot of the songs are very instrument based how did you manage to incorporate this into live performances?

Some of it, unfortunately, must come off the tape in echoes of you there’s a Theremin and they’re hard to play you could sit there for hours to get the right take in tune. What I really liked that we did this album is a lot of the sounds that sound like keyboards came from guitars. Josh is experimental with pedals he was just going nuts buying pedals there’s a lot of guitar pedals that sound like organs and other instruments. I’m not in the studio absolutely every day and I can remember coming in one day and Josh been like what do you think of this? And I just thought wow what is that and he’s like its guitar and it just didn’t sound like it at all, so I think incorporating a lot of those into the live performances is going to be really cool.

Which of the new songs from phantoms is your favourite to perform live and why?

Maybe echoes of you but it really does change I like Your Ghost a lot just because I’m a drummer and the drum parts really neat but I honestly like them all. One of our philosophies is to not have a b side on the album if a song isn’t good enough it doesn’t make the cut and we really really try hard to not have filler songs. I think most people when they do listen to an album of ours they do listen to it from bottom to top without skipping a song. For the most part, I really do just enjoy playing all of our songs live. We’re really lucky that Josh takes that amount of pride in his songwriting because you don’t feel like your delivering any duds.

Whilst we’re on the subject of touring we have a lot of UK readers you’re coming back here in November what differences can the fans expect from this tour compared to the last one?

Besides the new music, we will probably bring a little bit more in terms of production, but I haven’t really thought about that yet. Every album changes a bit so whatever the new flavour is with what we are wearing and what the new songs are it’s just going to be a little bit more dark and haunting.

Phantoms is the fifth studio album what’s the secret behind the band’s longevity?

Were all like brothers touring with people it is fun, but it can be really challenging especially in the beginning! At the start sometimes struggling is hard and sometimes coming out of the gates big is hard as with that you can get a big ego and that can be dangerous you could think your above certain things. For us, we had lots of struggles at the start. We’ve made it through the hard part, figuring out how each other works we don’t try to push each other’s buttons, well we do in a fun way but if someone’s having a hard day you help them up or give them space.

The band change there sound up each album and always come out with something unique in an ever-changing music industry how do you manage to do this while keeping the signature Marianas trench sound?

When Josh writes he comes up with the main idea and we all tackle it together. In the main writing process, we don’t try and write a single necessarily we just write and when we hear a song could be a single then we may be a bit less experimental with it I guess. Some of our songs can jump all over the place one of our critiques early on was that it was too much for the listener to absorb we needed to simplify it. Once we kind of have what we think are enough singles for the album it allows Josh to take the chains off. A song like The Killing Kind jumps around a lot one of our typical openers and closers. Once we have the singles that work for the radio its freeing to be able to go off the charts for the rest. The harder part is music today is so single based it’s almost like peoples priorities aren’t releasing albums anymore and just singles to keep been new. It’s going to be challenging for us what we have done in the past is release a song between albums such as Rhythm Of Your Heart maybe were going to have to keep releasing songs between albums. While the albums will still be our main focus but as a society, our attention span is shortening and if your not right in front of someone’s face they forget as there’s so much information been thrown at people these days you have to try and stay relevant.

What advice do you have for anyone starting a band?

I would focus on songwriting if you’re a singer id try hard to work on your craft. For a vocalist even if you don’t have the greatest voice that’s ok even if your, not the most technical singer find what’s unique as there’s always a place for that. Songwriting is the most important thing if you have good songs that’s what you need. Josh says do an exercise where you try and write as an artist you love such as Queen. Don’t try and copy them but get into there head and try and approach songwriting as they would and then do that with many different artists and it might help hone your skills and give you more colours and a larger palette to work from.

Finally, if you had a time machine what one part of your music career would you go and relive?

When we did Ever After that was our first run at arenas that was a lot of fun I did appreciate it at the time. The funny part was we were almost like little kids still. A lot of the times bands and crews don’t mix but we’d walk around talking to them watching them work and the crew really liked it and were like why are these guys been so nice we didn’t think we were most people don’t intermix with the crew but the whole process was so cool and I really had fun at that time and just apricated the whole process. Up until then, we hadn’t had that much crew when we did, we thought it was hilarious because it was weird someone else was doing all these jobs for us now. That time of our lives we all really appreciated and had a lot of fun.


You can purchase Phantoms here.

Are you going to see Marianas trench on tour? Let us know by tweeting us @Celebmix


Written by Charlotte Freeman-Coates

21 year old journalism student who loves music and travelling.
Twitter @lottie_coates Email