We had the chance to chat with Marianas Trenchs’ bassist Mike Ayley ahead of their sold out show at El Corazon on June 1st. The Canadian band who formed in 2006 just released their fifth record, Phantoms, and are currently touring North America to excited sold out crowds. We spoke about the new music, touring, inspirations, and what’s next.
NWMS: Where are we catching you at the moment?
Mike: We are in Columbus, Ohio at the moment, so on the opposite side of you touring our way over there for the last stretch.
NWMS: You’ve been on the road for a few weeks correct?
Mike: Yes, I think a little over two weeks now, played Pittsburgh last night. Atlanta and Orlando had huge audiences, about 1,600 people. We started out east and it’s been great so far all over the place.
NWMS: So you’ve had enough shows to warm up and fix any hiccups that occur at the start.
Mike: We did do a Canadian run in March to play the new songs and integrate everything together. The last couple of nights we’ve been playing a new track so that’s been exciting and we’re going to try to get to a couple more on the tour.
NWMS: What’s been the highlight of the tour so far?
Mike: The tour has been amazing so far, I think it’s awesome that New York was sold out three months in advance, I think this has been the best attendance we’ve had so far on a tour. It’s really encouraging to know that people are hearing the new music and loving it, like we hoped. I love these club shows that are jam packed, filled with energy and feel very intimate. We’ve brought the largest production that we could fit in these venues and it’s very fun to do these.
NWMS: I’m sure it’s nice to come back and feel that excitement to have sold out shows.
Mike: Of course, and Seattle has been sold out for a while now too. It’s nice to have a high demand show and see our fans so eager to be there.
NWMS: Tell me more about your latest album Phantoms.
Mike: We were touring about two years with the last one and then we took a couple of months to rest and recharge and then we got back together to write this one. It took about ten months to finish up and before you know it it’s been three years already. We did release “Rhythm of Your Heart,” in between to give something to our fans in the meantime. We like to have themes for our records and they help inspire our creative direction, give a little bit of framework, and at the same time open possibilities that may not been applicable otherwise.
NWMS: What is the theme of this one?
Mike: This time we were walking around New Orleans taking the town in, feeling that creepy, voodoo culture, ghost inspired, and thought that it was a cool vibe for an album. Josh brought it up and said “What if we set it up as a haunted house and give it that feel?” That ended up being a past relationship metaphor in what appears to be darkness is actually the silver lining. Where again with the city feel, when someone passes away we’re sad but you also have a parade and celebrate the life that was. It took us down a very interesting creative road and it’s been great to incorporate all these ideas to our sound and live set. Fans have the choice to show up with their masks at our shows so it’s interesting to see where it’s going.
NWMS: Tell me a little more about how the band has progressed since that first record to 2019?
Mike: We’ve been around since 2006 and if you listen to our first stuff you can definitely tell that it was our first album, that it was a collection of songs that we had worked on at the time but the sound was a little less focused. The radio was a little confused because they couldn’t categorize us as rock or pop. Going into the second album we really focused on working on what our sound really was and define that to reach the audience. We were discovering who we were and with the third album we placed it in a fairy-tale land with an 80s vibe of coming of age. Then Astoria was more of an adventure movie vibe with the whole Goonies theme. We are very fortunate to have fans that go with the changes and at this point they have come to expect it from us I believe. We are thinking more in terms of “What can we do this time?” And that feels very empowering.
NWMS: It helps to keep you growing and to try new things knowing that.
Mike: Yes, it’s pretty cool to be in this band. We all still love it, we still enjoy it, we like going on tour, we have a great crew that goes out with us. It’s a pretty good life to be doing this with people you like and music you love to play and fans that are coming out to see us.
NWMS: I think that is a great way to put it and I’m happy you still enjoy it. I really think it’s cool that you pick a theme and go with it on each album.
Mike: A fan once told us that each of our records represents an era for them and I thought that was a great way to put it.
NWMS: It creates an attachment to your band that reminds them of a part of their life and once they relate you to that it’s hard to forget about you. It’s what you want to hear.
Mike: It’s true.
NWMS: What are your plans after this run?
Mike: We shot a video for the song “Glimmer” and that will be done soon, so we’ll be releasing the single along with the video next. We’ll be announcing more tour dates soon as well so be on the lookout and then Europe coming up in November so we’re excited for that too.