Motion City Soundtrack are history, and they're damn proud of it.
By Shelly Ridenour.
Typical getting-to-know-you question: So, what's your band like?"
Typical answer: "Oh, man, we don't sound like anyone else. We're doing
something totally different."
Thank god, then, for Justin Pierre, who realizes the wheel has already been invented.
"There's this line that I use all the time, that I stole from Tom Waits: Basically, all anybody ever does is imitate their favorite artist -- badly," he says. "So, in a way we're just regurgitating all the crap we listened to in the late '80s and early '90s, the music that got us into playing music in the first place."
Which isn't to say that Pierre's band, Motion City Soundtrack, is a note-by-note replication
of anything. Their self-titled, Epitaph Records debut is a boisterous blast of fresh air that sweetly smells like the Get Up Kids and All, and references such Gen-X touchstones as CK One, Paul's Boutique, Night Court and Velcro shoes. "I'm a nostalgic person, definitely. I spent a lot of time as a kid in front ot the TV. I grew up on Inspector Gadget. I reference
old commercials," the singer/guitarist says. "Besides, I have a feeling that a lot of people live in the past and the future, and not many people live in the present moment."
This from a guy whose best song is called "The Future Freaks me Out" (and includes the line "We waste away the days with nicotine and television samples / From an era we hate to admit we embrace"). Live, it translates with an almost furious energy -- Pierre's singing style is a spastic, twitching freak-out, complete with flailing arms that make him look as if he's fighting off an invisible straitjacket.
"The first time I saw of video of myself, I was just like, 'What the hell am I doing?'" he says with a laugh. "It's almost become kind of this weird boy-band move. I attribute it to the fact that I used to play keyboards as well as guitar, and now I don't know what to do with my hands all the time."
The singer's manic energy is outdone only by the moment during any show in which his synth replacement, Jesse Johnson, defies gravity with a full-on vertical handstand on his keyboards. "He's a total spaz, be he's only fallen over onstage once," Pierre says. "Really."
Which may or may not be part of the band's revisionist history. "I really like telling stories, so I'd say that half the songs are based on truth, and half are based on some idea of what I wanted things to be like," Pierre says. "Like in Annie Hall, at the end of the movie Woody Allen turns to camera and says, 'You never get it right in real life.'"