It’s not very often that there’s a real and true personal connection when doing interviews with rock stars, but when Marianas Trench guitarist Matt Webb added Playboy model Jessica King into his life for a short period of time, my personal connection with a rock star finally happened.
A few years back I worked for a newspaper in Regina with Gary King, who just happens to be Jessica’s dad. Matt and Jessica are no longer dating, but I had my connection.
I wanted to start by saying we have a slight connection.
Oh do we?
We do. You dated Jessica King for a bit.
I’m really good friends with her dad Gary.
Oh you’re kidding me.
I used to work with Gary in Regina.
Oh you’re kidding me. I love Gary, he’s a great guy. I still see him sometimes when we’re in Regina.
And that was it. As simple as it was, I made the connection and we had a great chat about all things music in his solo career and in the Marianas Trench world. The band is headed to The Imperial in Sarnia for a sold-out show on Wednesday, September 5.
It’s great to hear new solo stuff from you. Again and Again is a cool song.
I was sitting around with a little spare time and I thought I would throw out a song. Nothing serious but yeah it was a lot of fun.
When you write something like Again and Again, when does it become a solo song rather than a Marianas Trench song?
Well I don’t know. When I was writing it I was writing with some other friends completely separate of that Mariana’s stuff and had every intention of it being a solo song. I don’t know why I just had it and we did it in December and I wasn’t in the studio and I wasn’t on tour and I was just by myself hanging out with some other friends.
Do you find yourself like oh no I’m going to keep this one to myself when you do write songs?
Well you know with Mariana, Josh is obviously the brains behind that one. He’s the primary songwriter obviously so he always wants to save his A-game for the Trench. You’re always trying to do your best, but there’s just certain stuff that you come up with that doesn’t necessarily fit into that particular style and maybe you save it for some other project. We’re creative people and it’s always fun to just make music whether it’s suites Marianas Trench or not.
When Bad Girl came out, it looks like you had fun with the music video as the main guy. With Again and Again, it’s like you only make a cameo appearance. I love the idea that people asked you to take their picture.
Oh thanks, that was a fun shoot. I’m such a miserable actor. I don’t like to plaster my face all over the place. People have seen enough of me, they can find me in other places if they need to. I just like the idea of doing a video. It was great, because I just got to sit around and eat food all day and watch the actors at work.
Josh also has a new solo single out as well. Is there a friendly rivalry between you guys?
(laughter) You know what, there’s no rivalry at all. I think it’s like everybody’s wishing maximum success for everybody else – it’s meant to be shared. I can’t compete with that guy, are you kidding me? He’s such an accomplished and successful songwriter and myself on the other hand, am not so much, so I really can’t compete.
With solo songs out, from different member of the band, is there a danger that it may affect the band as a whole?
Oh absolutely not. In fact I find that this stuff really helps the band because we’re in between album cycles right now with Mariana Trench and we’re in the studio working on new stuff, but sometimes our stuff isn’t ready to come out yet and people haven’t heard anything from any of us in a while. Its nice when Josh puts out a song or Mike puts out something or I put out a song. It’s just like keeping the name out there, keeping that brand alive. We’re literally spending 40 hours a week in the studio right now working on a new record – things couldn’t be any better.
So you just said you were in the studio, when can we expect the album out?
That’s a good question. I am really hoping for a release before the end of the year. I think we’ll be done. I would say we are 60/70 percent of the way there. It’s getting close and the songs are really awesome, really strong and feel like it’s some of the best material that we’ve ever done. I’m really excited to release it.
So do you guys have a concept in mind for this new one?
Yeah there is. It’s always nice to have a concept piece, for the writing and the recording and then a live show with photos and outfits. We’re keeping it all close to the chest right now because we want it to be a surprise for everybody.
You guys have had a series of concept albums. Did they start out that way or did they develop into something as they grew?
Yeah I think it just kind of evolved that way. Certainly we didn’t set off from the very beginning like that, but as we started focusing on concepts it made everything more fun and more cohesive. If you have an overall concept you can pull from it for everything – from the production of the show, the lighting, the style of photos that you take and the outfits that you’re wearing; the mood of the songs that you’re recording; the instruments that you were playing everything like that. I never really thought about that until we started doing that. So instead of just having a rock record, you’re dressed as vampires or something like that and it’s all sort of cohesive in a way.
So tell me about your writing process is there a formula how you go about writing?
Me personally? What I usually do is sit down at home and create a demo. I have some drum ideas and some bass ideas and I build guitar ideas and a musical track around it. And then the last thing to come is generally that the melody and the lyrics for me and that’s the way that I write. Josh is kind of the other way around. He starts with a melody in his head and then builds a song around that. And obviously he’s pretty good at it so maybe he’s doing something right and I’m doing something wrong, but I don’t think there’s rules. Some people like to start with the title and then they build around that, while others start with the whole lyrical concept. I’m a musician first and a writer later, so I start with the music and it develops from there.
You’ve been with Marianas Trench since you were a teen. Teens change as they grow. Do you think the band has changed or has it grown with you?
Yeah it’s definitely grown with all of us as we’ve grown older, you know certainly in terms of songwriting style. There’s different experiences to reflect on as we’re older now and when we first started we were very much like a rock band and opening for Three Days Grace and Theory of a Deadman. Now we’re sort of a pop rock band and we’re still doing what we’ve always done, but it’s just evolved along the way. And you know as we gain more experience, hopefully that’s all reflected in the music that we make, and the shows that we play.
So you must still enjoy doing what you’re doing then?
Absolutely yeah. We have so much fun. We have a lot of fun in the studio together and then when the studio stuff is done, we have a lot more fun on the road together. It’s like a family of four plus our crew. We’ve been together for a very long time and have a lot of fun, but I think we’ll continue to do it as long as we can. I don’t think it gets any better than this, to be honest with you.
I always loved your Juno Awards red carpet entrances. They got crazier and crazier as you went along. Will we see more of that from you guys in the future?
We like to wait till the last minute for those things and then quickly brainstorm something incredibly inconvenient and uncomfortable. Sometimes we’re restricted by permits and by the bylaws and you know rules and stuff, but we certainly try to do wacky things and I can’t imagine us stopping that for any reason. The problem is it’s tough to top yourself every year. You know what I mean, like we’ve had some pretty legendary red carpets instances over the years but they keep upping it every year it gets more and more challenging.
It’s no secret about Josh’s past addictions – he’s been very open about it. As a high school friend, you must have seen the worst of it?
It’s tough to say. I met Josh when I was in grade school and he’s a little bit older and he was just a wacky guy. I didn’t really see him as worst or anything – he was basically in school for a while and then he just disappeared, and I guess at the time I was like “Where the hell did that guy go”, but he was actually no longer in school because of some issues he had. I didn’t know any of that at the time, I was just pretty fresh so I didn’t really know what was going on and we didn’t become super close until after that time in his life.
So was there ever a danger that could have happened to you?
I’m sure it’s possible it could have been anybody, but I just never went down that path. I don’t know why and I thank my lucky stars that it didn’t. That was something didn’t really appeal to me. I just wasn’t interested.
But you guys always remained friends and business partners in the band through the ups and downs. There is certainly a special bond there.
Oh yeah absolutely, we speak our own language I suppose. It’s probably like we’re twins or something like that. We all know everything that there is possible to know about one another in our band that’s for sure. That’s what happens when you spend 15 years together. I mean I spend more time with the band guys in a band with anybody else.
The Imperial is a smaller theatre. Is there a different show or a different energy at the smaller halls that you perform at?
The small shows are awesome because you can engage with the audience so much more. You know you can make eye contact with every single person in the room which you can’t do at a bigger venue or an outdoor venue. I love the energy of the small shows. The big shows are so much fun because you get to incorporate a larger than life production, and you feel like a big rock star up there. But then when you get back into clubs you realize you’re missing a lot of that audience interaction and a lot of that energy that comes from those shows.
Marianas Trench performs a sold out show at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia on September 5.