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Vancouver's Marianas Trench piles Juno noms while eyeing U.S. breakthrough

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REGINA - Canadian pop outfit Marianas Trench recently signed a U.S. record deal, and it wasn't necessarily the band's streak of success on home soil — consecutive platinum albums and 10 Top 40 singles — that caught the label's eye, nor singer Josh Ramsay's co-writing credit on Carly Rae Jepsen's international smash "Call Me Maybe."

That stuff definitely helped, sure. But as Ramsay tells it, Marianas Trench landed a deal largely because Cherrytree Records founder Martin Kierszenbaum's daughter discovered the adrenalized pop outfit's inventive YouTube videos and soon became a huge fan.

That's been the way of things for the Vancouver group: an obsession to many teens, an obscurity to most adults.

And Ramsay isn't overly worried about changing that.

"So far we do bring out a younger audience, but a lot of bands in history have brought out a younger audience — I don't think there's anything wrong with that," the 27-year-old said in a recent telephone interview.

"The funny thing is that when I write songs, I don't actually aim at any age demographic. I just try and write songs I feel are good songs ... and if they appeal to anybody I'm excited, whether it's somebody five years old or 85 years old.

"Chances are I'll grow up someday," he added, "and chances are other people will too."

The Juno Awards might provide one step in that direction.

The band is up for four trophies for after releasing its brightly coloured concept album "Ever After" in 2011, with one of those nods being claimed by Ramsay alone for production work.

The nominations include recognition in several marquee categories: album of the year, group of the year and the Juno fan choice award.

The band will also get the chance to strut its stuff onstage, giving the Regina crowd — and the audience watching on CTV — a taste of its highly caffeinated pop.

Marianas Trench has yet to win a Juno, but as far as Ramsay's concerned, the performance opportunity and the nominations are sufficient recognition.

"That's good enough for me," he said. "Because trying to compare different songs and stuff — that's like having a competition of what's a better colour, red or green. It's so interpretative."

Although Ramsay might feel his band has luck on its side.

That's how he sums up the past few years, as a happily fortunate series of events that led to the band gradually building its fanbase to the point of being an arena act, at least in Canada.

Certainly, the stratospheric rise of "Call Me Maybe" seemed sprinkled with serendipity. Although Ramsay's involvement in the tune — and the Grammy nomination he earned for it — might be trivia to many who find themselves whistling the infectious smash, it's had a tangible effect on his career.

"It really did help us, certainly globally, because people look at who was involved in that song and eventually going down one way will lead to our band," he said, adding that it did help Marianas' cause in getting a U.S. deal.

It's also had a bit of a mental impact.

"I'm not taking credit for all of that song because Carly was a big part of that song too, but when you've been involved in a song that happened to be that big, it does put a certain kind of pressure on you as a writer or producer," said Ramsay.

"People start knocking on your door going: 'So you got any more of those lying around?'... But it's all just self-imposed pressure."

Part of the reason Marianas skews young is that Ramsay embraces a genre-jumping jukebox approach to songwriting, merrily merging emo, punk and even pure vocal pop ballads — "If somebody wants to put us in a box, I've got like a spray bottle like they're a naughty cat," he laughs — and delivering the resultant melange with a serious degree of operatic pomp.

"It's because I get bored," he said. "I'm too ADD, I don't want to do the same song over and over again."

But the band has been touring for so long, Ramsay admits he isn't far along on a follow-up to "Ever After."

As he sees it, that carefully conceived record will be hard to top.

"It's funny, we've done a quasi-concept-ish record, and we've gotten so theatric, I think people are going to expect that it goes further and further that way," he said. "I have no idea yet. I feel like ... I walked right into that one.

"Now I'm kinda like: What do I do next? I don't know. I don't want to just do that (album) again. I never really like to repeat the same idea."

It only takes a moment to relocate his confidence.

"It's OK," he adds. "I'll figure it out."

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