Image: Anthony Saint James
Interview: Motion City Soundtrack
Published on June 19th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
In April, Motion City Soundtrack performed their first four albums, in their entirety, for two consecutive nights at London’s XOYO…and now, fresh from releasing their splendid fifth LP Go, the band kindly – in its entirety, no less – agreed to undergo the Rocksucker interview treatment type thing. First, though, have a simultaneous butcher’s at and earful of the single “True Romance”…
How would you describe Go to those who haven’t heard it yet? Feel free to be as abstract as you like with your answer…
Justin Pierre: I feel it is an amalgamation of our four previous albums all in one. It deals mostly with the themes of life, love, death, and the passing of time. I feel like we’ve expanded upon our earlier attempts at experimentation and gone even further out of our comfort zone.
Who took production duties on this album? And were all the songs written close together, or do some date back further than others?
Josh Cain: Ed Ackerson and we as a band produced. It was a very free and expressive environment.
How come you’re now back on Epitaph? What was it like being on a major?
Josh: Epitaph is a great place with great hard working people not likely to give up on us. The major was great, people worked hard and let us do some really great fun stuff. We were glad to have the experience, they just didn’t stick with us. Luckily we were able to move without any strings attached.
Who did the synth parts on the album?
Jesse Johnson: Matt, Justin and I did them.
Is “True Romance” based on a real tryst?
Justin: If you’re speaking of the video, no. That’s not how it went down. Yes, there is a girl and at the beginning we were quite opposite in many ways, but time has a way of changing people so that they either repel each other or fit better together. Lucky for us it was the latter.
Was “Everyone Will Die” inspired by anything in particular, or just a general moment of melancholic reflection?
Justin: I was really frustrated when I wrote the first minute of that song one night out of nowhere. I guess I was attempting to write something general enough where anyone could relate but in a way that was hopefully new and/or interesting. For the last few years I had been obsessing over death and the rapid and exponential speeding up of time as I get older. I kind of surprised myself. It’s a very rare thing to set out to write a specific kind of song and then do it in under a few minutes. But those tend to be the good ones. They simply write themselves.
Is “BoxElder” referring to the tree, the bug or the Pavement song of the same name?
Justin: The bug. I know the Pavement song, being a GIGANTIC Pavement fan, but that was the only word that worked and our “BoxElder” sounds nothing like theirs. I tried other three syllable words, but that one was first and stuck. Therefore I had to figure out how to write a song around it. And I did…I think.
Whose idea was the Making Moves Singles Series? Have you enjoyed it? How did you choose the emerging artists?
Jesse: The Making Moves Series was created out of many conversations I had with Drexel University. We wanted to have Motion City Soundtrack work with students there to create something special for upcoming bands and give those bands the opportunity to work in a great studio with great equipment. It was a really fun experience all around. Each member of Motion City Soundtrack picked a band to work with and they all ended up being amazing. I am excited for people to hear all the bands.
How did your shows at XOYO in London go? Playing all four albums sounds flippin’ exhausting. Is it a one-off or would you like to tackle it again in the future, perhaps throwing in Go as well?
Tony Thaxton: Those were so much fun! They’re definitely exhausting to do, but in the best way possible. Those shows bring out our most hardcore fans, and they’re ready to sing along and have fun. I’m not sure if we’ll do them again. We did 7 different cities in the US at the end of last summer. It was my favorite tour we had done in a long time. It’s a really fun challenge to play ALL of our songs, and to play two nights in a row, and do a completely different show each night. It felt like an accomplishment when it was all said and done. It would be even harder to do any more now, because now we have five records. I’m not saying it won’t happen, I just don’t know!
What have your previous experiences of playing in the UK been like? Do you enjoy our haute cuisine and warm lager?
Tony: The UK has always been great to us. We were very lucky in our earlier days, getting really great support tours. The first three times we ever came over were, in this order, opening for Sugarcult, All American Rejects and Blink 182. So, it was a nice way to build a fan base.
I won’t lie, the food and drinks do take some getting used to. But I know what I’m in for now, and usually know how to find the good stuff. I’m pretty much always looking for a Nando’s when it’s time to eat. There’s only one Nando’s in all of the United States!
Which acts did you enjoy seeing at Slam Dunk festival?
Tony: It was great seeing and hanging out with our friends in Taking Back Sunday and Say Anything. Great bands full of great guys.
How was SXSW? What are your favourite festival foodstuffs and/or accessories (eg. torch, fanny pack, fold-up chair)?
Jesse: SXSW was great. I got to see The Jealous Sound, Hellogoodbye, Foxy Shazam, The Front Bottoms, and Doomtree, but the best band I saw at SXSW was a band from Scotland called Xcerts. I had their record for a long time, but it was my first time seeing them play and they were amazing. As far as foodstuffs, Iron Works Barbeque and Uchi Sushi are always on the top of the list.
Do you guys argue much? If so, how do you usually resolve conflict?
Matt Taylor: Much? No, but like Piebald said: “Sometimes friends fight”. I’m the type of person that needs a few minutes of alone time after an argument to look at the bigger picture. Then I’m fine. Other guys would rather talk it out. We’ve definitely had five-guy sit-downs in the past to get things out in the open. That’s probably the healthiest way to handle conflict, especially if puppies are involved. Puppies are great ways to make people forget about ill feelings.
Who is Nixon Fappleby? And how does it feel to be the most influential rock band in the history of the world?
Justin: Nixon Fappleby is a punk. He’d sell you his Aunt Trish’s second husband’s ashes just to get a luke warm Shasta if he could. Obviously he doesn’t fact check and he has a tendency to stretch the truth. He also owes me $23.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to? If not, would you care to make some up?
Matt: Why yes! We’ve played and worked with some amazing bands in the recent past. Here is a list of a few of them:
Kid Is Qual
I Was Totally Destroying It
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
Matt: It would have to be an eclectic mix of bands with huge catalogs. So, here goes..
Motion City Soundtrack, thank you.
Motion City Soundtrack’s fifth studio album Go is out now on The Boombox Generation and Epitaph Records. For more information, including a list of live dates, please visit motioncitysoundtrack.com.