The pressure’s on: Matt Webb of the Juno-Award winning pop group Marianas Trench is stepping solo into the spotlight to show fans his other side when he performs in Red Deer.
Webb’s more sensitive, reflective, singer/songwriter side will be featured on Sunday, March 23, at the Memorial Centre. And he’s hoping his fans across Western Canada will like what they hear.
His second solo EP, Right Direction, is a stripped-down effort that purposely lacks the seamless, pop-y, dance-inducing production values of albums made by his popular Vancouver-based band, led by Josh Ramsay.
“Marianas Trench has slick pop music that’s very well produced,” said Webb, while his solo stuff is another creature all together. “You hear the breaths more” on recorded tracks, he added. “There’s more individuality and it’s a lot more raw.”
Several songs he wrote for Right Direction, including the title track, are heart-baring tunes that deal with being away from home and missing loved ones. While Webb admitted they’re tied to what’s happening in his real life, the singer steers away from making any romantic revelations.
He does admit that stepping up as a solo singer in front of a new backup band of musician friends (drummer Al Glassford, bassist Peter Davyduck and pianist Andrew Belson) has its nerve-wracking moments.
“The pressure’s on me a bit more now,” said Webb. “I can’t hide in the shadows with my guitar.”
That image is reminiscent of an anecdote Fargo actor William H. Macy recently told on daytime TV about being underwhelmed when watching One Direction in concert with his daughter. Apparently, a member of the British boy band, when not taking his turn at centre stage, was seen in the dim background eating a banana— or rather, sandwich.
“No banana eating here!” responded Webb with a chuckle. “I have to work harder to maintain my voice and I warm up more carefully, because vocally, it’s more taxing.”
While the singer/guitarist in his late 20s sometimes helps compose music for Marianas Trench, Webb said Ramsay is the main songwriter of that group (who’s also had mega-success co-writing Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit Call Me Maybe).
Webb feels it’s fulfilling to slip on the songwriter’s shoes for his solo EPs — and nice to do something different than what fans might expect.
His first EP, Coda and Jacket, was released in 2011 and featured the single Bad Girl. The video for the title track of his second solo effort, Right Direction, was released in February. It’s in heavy rotation at MuchMusic and getting good feedback.
Webb feels he owes a big debt of gratitude to Marianas Trench and the band’s following for making his solo tour possible. “We have this nice little built-in fan base and they’ve been really supportive . . . They’ve always been there for us.”
Webb and his backup band, along with special guests Vancouver-based Fake Shark Real Zombie and Jessica Lee, perform from 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $24.50 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.