Motion City Soundtrack Talks New Tunes and Fan Favorites

Joshua Cain and Justin Pierre from rock band Motion City Soundtrack perform at The Intersection in Grand Rapids Thurs. Oct.17

Joshua Cain and Justin Pierre from rock band Motion City Soundtrack perform at The Intersection in Grand Rapids Thurs. Oct.17

If you’re a fan of what some call pop punk, then this band is worth a listening. Fan of rock? Google ‘em. Fan of pop? Check out Motion City Soundtrack on iTunes. Bottom line, if you’re a cool person like myself, check this band out. Not only are their albums full of catchy poppy melodies, but the lyrics compliment the guitar riffs, drum intros and energetic synthesizer in such a masterful way. After each song, I’m left with this giddy grin on my face, long after the music ends. It’s just a band that continues to make me smile, track after track.

Minneapolis pop punk band, Motion City Soundtrack just wrapped up a co-headlining tour with rock group Bayside this fall. Michigan was graced with their raucous live show on Thursday Oct. 17 at the Intersection in Grand Rapids. Joshua Cain, guitar and co-founder along lead singer Justin Pierre, was nice enough to talk with me before the show.

Sarah Spohn (SS): I know that you guys are recording new material right now…

Joshua Cain(JC): Yeah, we started—we’ve been writing like the entire year.We started writing and then Tony was leaving the band, so we kept writing then Claudio joining the band so we started writing and we’ve been writing for a LONG time this year. Longer than we’ve taken probably to write more of our records, more of our recent records.

We just went into do some pre-production work with someone to see if it would work out, and I think that we’re probably going to record a record in December. I don’t know when it’s going to be released…next year hopefully. I think that’s a safe hope.

SS:How’s the new drummer working out? When did Tony leave?

JC: Tony told us he was leaving before we went out of the country in Marrr…April…I think he told us in April right before we were going to do that tour, he said that after this tour, he said he couldn’t do it anymore…He did that last final run in all those foreign countries.

SS:The new drummer Claudio—is that like a friend of the band, have you known him a long time?

JC: Yes, he has been someone that I’ve been friends with in Minneapolis for quite a long time and he was in Saves the Day as well. But he used to be our drum tech a long time ago, and he had filled in when Tony broke his arm. We played a few shows without Tony and Claudio played those shows…He’s the guy that, you know, comes over to my house and we play board games…yeah-close to home dude, good friend dude to have. He’s the guy that if you need help-you call him to help you out.

SS:I know you release content you could stream on RollingStone, are those on the album, or are those just singles, or do you know what those are gonna be?

JC: The newest material that we released that was with Claudio, is the Inside Out song. And it’s up in the air if that will be on the album or not. Right now it’s just a stand alone thing, it could be on the album, it could not. We have a lot of songs, so maybe that will just exist and we’ll make an album. I don’t know. I don’t know. Kind of open too. We have a lot of songs written. Right now we probably have like 18 songs we could record. That’s a lot. Like finished. 18 songs that could be recorded.

SS:I feel like with the way the music industry is changing, people are doing a lot of singles just online because people don’t buy CDs or anything right now. Do you feel like you’ve seen a lot of that change, because when was your first album released?

JC: We released our record right when downloading I feel like was starting to get to be a really big thing. And in the beginning it probably didn’t hurt us that bad, it kind of got people to listen to our band, ya know just cause they could share it and then that record did really well. Commit this to Memory, I feel like…took a long time before it was released, but it didn’t hurt it. It was our best selling record. So it’s kind of like this double edged sword.

Now we’re just experimenting. We don’t know how to do it. But I think there’s still some value to an album.

The masses may only listen to one of those songs off the album, if you separate it out and release it on its own and don’t attach it to an album, it loses a value that people have put with it. I feel like if it’s on an album, and even if they only buy that one song—its still considered part of this like artwork. This art thing-and I think there’s still enough there.

I’ve always been wrestling like do you just give up on the album and release a couple songs together every once in a while? But I don’t know.

SS: Well I was talking to (my friend)Catie on the way here too, we were listening to one of your songs, and I was telling her that my friend like just has your stuff on his itunes. He doesn’t listen to the albums in the entirety, and Even If It Kills Me has so much storytelling. And I can’t believe that people only listen to one song, I have to listen to it from the beginning to the end.

JC: Everybody is very different. I mean, some people don’t listen to music like that, and some people just listen to YouTube videos of bands. It’s such a different world, I can’t figure it out, honestly.

We just try to make music we like. And hopefully people get it, and we’ll try to engage people the best we can and spend the limited amount of money that we can get to market ourselves the best we can. It’s just a game. We’ll make a record and it could just be the wrong timing in the world. We’ve been told by radio stations we’re too poppy, which is a really funny thing to be told by a radio station that plays pop music. It’s a really awkward thing. I mean, it’s really tough.

It’s all about timing because all of a sudden, you could make the thing that was so like everything you’ve heard on the radio and you’re like oh this song’s gonna work really well, I’m glad we happened upon this. But then, what people perceive as pop music changes, and you just have to be willing to understand that its all that timing and it could change.

So we just make music and hope that it’s going to work-I think that’s our best game right now is not to worry about if it can make it or try to write catchy songs…

SS:A lot of them are really catchy though…

JC: They are, they are, and that’s the thing is I feel like we’re going to be catchy no matter what. So we don’t need to focus on that. Our new record I feel like is a little more, the new stuff we’re writing…there’s definitely a lot more rock than there was in the last record. And that’s not necessarily intentional, it just happens. But then again, we may record a bunch of songs and they may turn out completely different than they sound right now to me. And it could end up being not that way.

SS:Let’s talk about the concert tonight, or this tour…What are some fan favorite songs that people just go crazy for when you’re on stage?

JC: One of our favorite songs to play all the time is “My Favorite Accident” just ’cause it always seems to go over well, and it’s fun to play and it’s not like a generic pop song or something. It has a real cool feeling, so that’s usually one of my favorites to play and it seems to go over well. But there’s always “The Future Freaks me Out” and “Everything is Alright,” you know. We’ve been playing “Hold me Down” more on this tour, which is good. People get really excited. For some reason, we didn’t play that a bunch for a while, live. It just happened. When you’re on Warped Tour, it’s hard to play “Hold me Down.”

SS: Okay, I have some fun questions to ask you.

JC: Okay.

SS: So how did you guys come across the Motion City Soundtrack name?

JC: Well, I had an older brother who made it up, and I’m not sure for what. But I asked him if I could steal it—I don’t know if I actually asked him if I could steal it, but I stole it. And we really liked it. And we struggling with names, we would come up with a bunch of names and they were all real shitty.

SS:What other names did you think about?

JC: Yukon Cornelius. That was the best one.

SS:Yukon Cornelius?

JC:Yeah, he’s the mountain man in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Anyways, and then Belt Weather, that was very bad. Justin had one that was really emo, I can’t remember what the name of it was…

We used to play shows and it would be billed as like Yukon Cornelius, and we’d get there and be like oh sorry, Yukon Cornelius couldn’t make it, we’re Belt Weather, and that’s what we would do.

SS:How long have you and Justin known each other?

JC: Since like 1992, ish. We were acquaintances at that time. Maybe 1991, yeah somewhere in there. In our high school years, which now I’ve just dated us. We met, we had similar friends. He lived kind of outside of the city but we had some friends that were mutual. And then I started a band in high school and he had a band that was doing well, and we started playing some shows at random places and coffee shops with them. They were called Slidecoaster, kind of sound like Smashing Pumpkins.

SS:What are one or two things that you need when you’re on the road all the time?

JC: You know, now these days—our phones have become so everything. It’s just like everything is in there. I can Facetime with my kid, I can listen to my music, I can watch Fringe-which I’m obsessively watching right now. Yeah, I mean it’s kind of the key and then you know, just…sleep. Sleep. I mean it depends on the tour. If we’re in a bus, if we’re doing a bus tour-it’s much easier just to like chill out. Yeah, you kind of get lazy.

SS: Can we expect any other random releases to be streamed anywhere or no?

JC: Not until after its recorded, so maybe in the new year.

Thanks again to Joshua Cain, guitar and co-founder of Motion City Soundtrack for taking time to speak with me before the gig.

(L to R) Catie Berg, Joshua Cain, guitar of Motion City Soundtrack, Sarah Spohn

(L to R) Catie Berg, Joshua Cain, guitar of Motion City Soundtrack, Sarah Spohn

You can stream their newest single, “Inside Out”

and follow the band @motioncitymusic or like them on Facebook .