After some cake-eating in celebration of Jesse's birthday, I got talking with Justin and Josh from Motion City Soundtrack under the drizzling rain. Make sure to pick up their album, I Am The Movie, when it comes out on June 24 on Epitaph. Also if they stop by your town, you don't want to miss their highly-entertaining stage presence! Read more to find out who in the band supposedly can weave a mean basket.
Can you explain the meaning behind your name?
Josh: I don't know, there isn't much meaning. My brother, Brian, made it up, and he also named our record. I'm not really sure, it's kind of weird what it's about. I don't think it really has a meaning directed to anything other than what you make it.
Justin: I just liked the way that it sounded.
You should just make up a weird story and tell everyone that's what it means.
Josh: Yeah, yeah. [laughs] I would have to try and think of that.
Justin: It's about a time in Denver. That's all I know.
Josh: All I could say is that I woke up in the trunk of car.
Justin: Good times.
Josh: Good times. That's a quote of that night actually.
Brief history behind the band?
Josh: History of the band...Justin and I met a long time ago, when we were younger. We started a band five years ago?
Justin: Yeah, 97'.
Josh: 97'. And then we went through a slure of members and up about a year and a half ago, we found the people that are in the band now-and they're amazing, and everything's been amazing since.
Justin: Yeah that's chronological.
Josh: Yup, that's the brief history of Motion City Soundtrack.
What made you want to get into music?
Justin: I wasn't good at sports. So...and I liked to sit around in my room and do nothing. And I liked to listen to music and liked imitating the voices of musicians. I had a friend who played guitar and so he said I should play guitar, and I did.
How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Justin: I was 12?
Josh: And I was 16 when I started playing bass. Or no, 15-one of those two. And it was because I loved music but for some reason, this may sound really stupid, but Flea made me started playing bass. And then I changed to guitar four years later.
Were you in band when you were high school?
Josh: Yeah! I was actually in jazz band for a little bit.
Justin: Oh, you were?
Josh: Yup, I was in jazz band.
Justin: I did not know that.
Josh: But we were also in our own bands. I had a band called Superette and he had a band called Fly Coaster, and in high school we used to play shows together.
Justin: And that's how we met.
Josh: Like he went to a different school in a different town but we'd play shows together.
How would you describe your music?
Justin: The sound? I would say.... I'm gunna pull this quote out because I love it.
Josh: Oh no, every interview's going to have the same fucking quote.
Justin: Well because it's a good quote. But basically all we're doing is, well, okay fine I won't say that quote. But we're imitating all the music that we listened to growing up.
Justin: Jawbox, Pixies...
Josh: Poster Children....
Josh: Big Black. Big Black? Wow, that came out really weird.
Justin: Big Black?
Josh: Not necessarily, like if you listen to all those bands it'll sound like ours---if you put them all together. Oh, The Rentals.
Justin: Oh yes.
Tell us about your album, I Am The Movie, that's coming out real soon.
Josh: It's like, we as a band---there was a point in our career where I called Justin up and I said, "You know what, the only way we're gunna make this happen is if we go pay for our record, and like make this happen and spend thousands of dollars on recording of our own money-" and we did. And right after that, we were selling them at shows and it just seemed everyone liked it. And that's how the record started. Then a year later we got signed to Epitaph and we went back to the studio and fixed up some things that we didn't like about it and added some songs, without changing it too much.
Justin: We didn't want to go in and redo the whole thing.
Josh: We didn't want to seem manufactured-like.
Justin: We liked a lot of the mistake, or what we thought were mistakes, just due to budget restraints at the time.
Josh: Yeah, due to funding.
Justin: It was all funding.
Josh: But yeah that's how it was, now it's coming out on Epitaph and it has a few of those songs. And I think it's mostly like the way I really wanted the record to be, you know what I mean? We made compromises...Obviously, when you sign on to a label, some decisions aren't decisions you would've made on your own, but that's just part of the deal I think.
So how'd you get together with Epitaph?
Josh: Brett heard our mp3's and basically called everybody that was on our website and emailed everybody he could. Then we went and played some shows and he was like "Here." And we were like "Cool! That's cooler than these people that we've been talking to. We'll do that." And that's basically how it went.
What's the concept behind your video for "My Favorite Accident" and what's with the pink bunny?
Josh: The pink bunny.
Josh: Well I think the best way to explain the video, and the most contrive way I can explain our video is that music videos are kind of a stupid thing but they're important to what we do. So we decided that it'd be funny to write ourselves into a generic rock video with little twists. We're making fun of what we're doing-by doing it.
Justin: Yeah, we're just making fun of generic rock.
Josh: We tried to make as close to just an MTV rock video as we possibly could, without spending a lot of money.
Justin: And we thought that was funny.
Josh: We think that's funny but not everyone else might not think that it's funny. I don't know, maybe it's not even a joke, maybe it's good, maybe it's shitty?---I don't know.
Who was the pink bunny?
Josh: Jesse was actually the pink bunny. He got screamed at a few times.
How do you think the scene has changed now from when you first started?
Josh: Scene? I think there's a lot---I don't know what a scene-it is so weird, the words are weird. I don't know what that means, but I will say right now there's a lot of bands. There's a lot of bands and there's a lot of labels and there's a lot of touring bands--more than there was five years I think when we were starting. I think now, there's like a...hot bed? Is hot bed a word?
Justin: Hot bed? It sounds like a word.
Josh: A hot bed of bands and venues. I really think that music is thriving right now.
Justin: I really like a lot of the music that I'm hearing, the newer music. It's mostly bands that we've been touring with, bands that we meet or hear.
Josh: Like when we went on tour with The Weakerthans, it was just amazing to us, I mean they're just an amazing band. And we're on a label with them now too, which is cool. We're star-struck by it.
So you guys are from Minnesota, do the kids support you there?
Josh: Now there's a support.
Justin: They hate our guts!
Josh: I think it was worse in the past, like we were known as "Motion Shitty Soundtrack". We're friends with everybody so til' now we're reaching a crowd that's not our friends there. So before it was kind of like yeah I'd get my five friends to come see us, but that doesn't do us any good as a band.
If you could be a apart of any movie soundtrack, what would it be?
Josh: Right now? Like a current movie that we know is coming out? I think any Terry Gilen film-if we ended in his soundtrack, that'd be badass.
Josh: It'd be ridiculous to just think of that. Right now, we'd take any movie.
Any hidden talents?
Justin: Tony can weave a mean basket.
Josh: Yeah, Tony says he can weave a mean basket, I've never seen it though.
Justin: I've never seen a mean basket.
Josh: I've seen happy, nice baskets, but never a mean basket. Um, but hidden talents?
Justin: I wouldn't call them hidden or talents.
Josh: Yeah, I don't know. Hmm, Jesse plays a lot of video games.
Justin: I like to sleep.
Josh: Yeah, sleeping is a good talent I have. No, I don't know, we just focus a lot of our attention on this, so there isn't much else going on.
Justin: We just don't have enough time. Josh: We'd like to do a lot of time. Like Justin would love to direct movies and I'd love to open a record label, or do this and that, but just right now there's no time to do those things.
What was your first ever concert you ever went to?
Josh: Mine was The Monkees, with Weird Al Yankovic. In 1987, I think? At the State Fair in Minneapolis.
Justin: Mine was Guns N' Roses with Sound Garden opening. That was the first concert I went to.
Josh: The first like cool, venue show I went to was Feetus---which is a band you wouldn't know who they are.
Other than the synthesizer, how would you differentiate yourself from the other bands that are out there right now?
Josh: We don't really try to do anything, that's the biggest thing. What we try to do is write songs that are not too...boring. Too boring, like we try not to bore ourselves. When we're bored, we don't play it. But really, we don't try to differentiate anything.
Justin: The one thing that we started doing, from the beginning, was write songs that we wanted, like that we would sing along to and that we would have fun with.
Josh: It wasn't even like just to make songs that could sell, it was to make songs that we would enjoy. Like step our song writing further than we'd ever taken it.
Justin: A lot of the music that I hear on the radio, when I have heard the radio, kind of bores me a little bit. Like they all just sound kind of similar. But maybe I'm getting old, I don't know. But I know that all of us listen to all different kind of music from electronic techno music to big band jazz---well maybe it's just me that listens to that.
Josh: Yeah, it is.
So do you ever just listen to your own music, while your in the car or something?
Justin: Sometimes I do.
Josh: He has to, to remember the lyrics. Well there's a lot of them...
Justin: No, there's no excuse, I just have a bad memory.
Josh: Yeah, he's got a pretty shitty memory. Well honestly, our bass player, he joined the band after we recorded the record before, and now he's on the new version-that's another thing that's changed, he's playing bass on the new stuff. He listened to our record before he joined the band, like he was a fan before he was a member. And all the other stuff that we recorded before I would never listen to, but this new record, I could put on and not be annoyed by it being on.
Justin: I haven't listened to it in awhile. Oh we get our promos tomorrow!
Josh: Yeah, we get to see it tomorrow, the actual art work and everything.
What's the artwork for it?
Josh: It's this weird like city that looks burned with roses behind it. And it has plexi on it that comes apart, it's really weird. It's interactive, if that's how I could put it.
Are there any upcoming summer releases you're looking forward to?
Josh: The Limbeck record on Doghouse. It's called...oh shit.
Justin: What is it? Hi?
Josh: Hi? How Are You? Or, Hi, Good Morning?
Justin: Hi, Everything's OK?
Josh: Yeah, "Hi, Everything's Okay", something like that.
Justin: I don't know, don't quote us on that.
Josh: The Limbeck record on Doghouse, it's gunna be amazing.
Justin: I think it's probably going to be one of the best releases of the year.
Josh: Yes. They're an awesome band.
My friend has a question for you: If you were in a car right now and the windows were fogged, what would you draw or write on it?
Josh: I have a tendency to just draw eyeballs, I don't know why but that's all I draw.
Justin: I'd draw something like: "hey fuckface" backwards so people that drive by can read it.
Any last comments?
Justin: No, I don't.
Any shoutouts or anything?
Justin: I don't know how to shoutout.
Josh: Hi mom? Here, you take over.
Justin: I'd like to shoutout to Holly and the BBTC. And my friend, Matt Ian Thomsen, craziest mo-fo alive.There.