Marianas Trench stands out

DAVID SCHMEICHEL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 4:40 AM ET

In an age where most punk-pop frontmen are whiny yelpers with faux-British accents, Josh Ramsay and his Marianas Trench-mates stand apart from the pack for one simple reason.

They can sing.

In fact, the band's major label debut -- titled Fix Me and released last fall -- is adrift with swirling harmony arrangements and a cappella flourishes that owe an obvious debt to Queen, the Beach Boys, and Ben Folds Five.

"A lot of music is getting really s--ty because people aren't relying on talent anymore," says Ramsay, 23, from his studio in Vancouver. "They're sucking the soul out of it, and we wanted to put out music that was alive."

Ramsay, who got his vocal training in high school choirs, certainly has the pedigree to join the "real music" revival. His father is Miles Ramsay, who -- as head of Little Mountain Sound -- recorded acts like Aerosmith and AC/DC. His mother toured and recorded with Leonard Cohen, while providing voice lessons to the likes of Bryan Adams.

"It certainly helped me make sense of a lot of different styles of music," says Ramsay of his musical upbringing, noting a sister who went on to become a nurse is considered the black sheep of the family. "As far as music education goes, it was perfect."

It also gave him a pretty good idea what not to be when he grew up, namely an ego-driven performer who takes what they do a trifle too seriously.

"A lot of singers have that weird lead singer complex, where they think the whole world revolves around them," he explains. "I saw that and said, 'I know I'm going to be a lead singer, but I'm not going to be that lead singer.' "

One thing Ramsay probably didn't plan on becoming was a heroin addict while still in high school. And though he's since pulled himself out of that world, he's taken the lessons he learned while recovering and applied them to his career in music.

"On the one hand, you learn how to empower yourself ... but to get there, you have to accept when you're powerless to do anything," he says. "I certainly realized how to accept situations better than I could before. It sucks when you're 16 and a heroin addict, but I wouldn't trade it. It taught me how to be driven, but also how to be patient."

Ramsay, who often takes interviews as an opportunity to goof around with bandmates Matt Webb (guitar), Mike Ayley (bass) and Ian Casselman (drums), says an ability to stay true to who you are is paramount to surviving the music biz.

That, and finding time to share a laugh every once in a while.

"A quiet confidence is always better than trying to act like someone you're not," says the singer, who counts Billie Joe Armstong(of Green Day) and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl as good examples. "And if you're going to survive the music industry, and especially touring, you have to be able to just laugh it off."


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