BREAKING THROUGH THE FRIGID TEMPERATURES OF MINNEAPLOIS, MN, AND HITTING THE WORLD HARDER THAN EVER COMES MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK. IF YOU AREN'T ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH MCS, THIS IS ONE BAND YOU REALLY NEED TO CHECK OUT. AND IF FOR SOME REASON YOU'RE aRELUCTANT AND DECIDE NOT TO? GIVE IT TIME MY FRIEND, BECAUSE THESE BOYS ARE MAKING HEADS TURN FROM ALL AROUND.
DON'T MISTAKE IT FOR A LONG LASTING SEIZURE. IT'S THE RESULT YOUR BODY WILL UNDERGO AFTER SUBJECTING YOUR EARS TO THE BODY ROCKING BEATS THAT ARE DISPLAYED ON "I AM THE MOVIE". WHAT OTHERS LACK, MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK PROVIDE BOTH ON THE ALBUM AND ON STAGE...FIERCE HARD-DRIVING ENERGY, LEAVING YOU JUST A SPLIT SECOND TO CATCH YOUR BREATH. EMBEDED IN THE SARCASTIC, COMDEIC, DOWN RIGHT TALENTED LYRICS, LIES A HARMONIC FLOW THAT IS CONSISTANT THROUGHOUT. THEY HAVE THE VOCALS, THE GUITAR RIFFS, THE BASS LINES, THE DRUM BEATS, THE MOOG, THE TALENT, THE ENERGY, AND THE HAIR. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR?
FOR THOSE THAT AREN'T FAMILIAR WITH MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK, WHY DON'T YOU TELL US YOUR NAME, WHAT YOU DO, AND A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT THE BAND.
My name is Justin Pierre and I play guitar and sing in the band. We're a five piece with a keyboard. Josh and I started this band a long time ago, the name anyways. A lot of the music has changed over the years, but we started playing together in '97. The band as is has been playing together for about a year to two years with the current lineup.
YEAH, YOU GUYS HAVE HAD A LOT OF LINEUP CHANGES.
Yeah. Josh and I fought a lot with the people. Well, I don't know, just different people coming and going for different reasons. Sometimes they were fired, sometimes they just left.
SO IS THIS THE FINAL LINEUP FOR MCS?
I hope so. I think so. So far it has been going really well. We don't fight nearly as much.
MCS RECENTLY TOURED WITH RUFIO, MAE, AND FALLOUT BOY. HOW DID THAT GO?
Awesome! There have been a lot of bands on the bill. I know Fallout Boy left. A band that came on in their place was Acceptance. They were gone for a while. Actually, I think Fallout Boy was the band that took their place. It's been really weird; the bands keep switching and swapping.
YOU ARE SET TO TOUR EUROPE WITH THE ALL AMERICAN REJECTS AND LIMBECK. LAST JULY YOU GUYS DID A RECORD RELEASE TOUR WITH LIMBECK. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS BAND THAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK FOR MORE?
They're amazing. We became friends with them a long time ago. It was really weird. We met them, we liked their music, and I think they liked ours, and we just happened to record with the same guy (Ed Rose). Our paths just kept criss-crossing. Their record, I'd have to say, is probably one of my favorite ones of the year. Everything on it's just so great. I love 'em.
TOUR, TOUR, TOUR. IT SEEMS THAT'S ALL YOU BOYS DO. DO YOU EVER REACH A POINT WHERE YOU JUST WANT TO STOP AND RELAX WITHOUT ALL THE HYPE OF TOURING SURROUNDING YOU?
I never use to want to do that but in recent times I've wanted to take a break, because we really haven't had a huge one. We have random days here and there, but nothing like a month, which we're hopefully going to get in January. Though, we're going to spend most of that time writing.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE CITY/SHOW TO PLAY?
I don't really get into that or anything. Usually, sometimes, different people in bands have good days and bad days. Sometimes I'll play guitar wrong or just sing like crap...or vise versa. For some reason the third to last show we played, before we took a little break off the Rufio tour, was in Milwaukee. That was actually one of the best shows I've played in a long time. I don't know what it was. It might have been sold out, but there was just something about it. Just being on. Sometimes my voice isn't on or I'll forget the words in a song. Everybody else at the show I thought had a great show too. I like the Midwest a lot because that's we started playing most of our shows.
MCS ISN'T NEW TO THE SCENE. IT'S QUITE IMPRESSIVE TO SEE HOW YOU WENT ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS. YOU ARE, INDEED, AN INDEPENDENT BAND. YOU SKIPPED THE NORMAL STEPS ONE WOULD TAKE AND DID IT ALL YOURSELF, TAKING YOUR OWN MONEY, PUTTING IT TOWARDS THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF BEING IN A BAND. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE MCS HAS HAD TO OVERCOME?
I don't know. Right now we don't really seem to be struggling too much. I mean, I think we're all pretty appreciative of how well we're doing. The road has been slow ever since I started playing music. So in the last few years it has picked up quite immensely. I can't really think of any hardcore hurdles that we've had to overcome. In my opinion everything's been totally wicked. In fact! I believe that's the name of our tour, the All American Rejects/Limbeck tour. It's going to be called the "Totally Wicked Awesome Tour"...I'm really excited about that.
THAT'S A WONDERFUL NAME!
Yes! It's ridiculous.
BEFORE THE EPITAPH RELEASE, MCS PUT OUT A SELF-RELEASED VERSION OF "I AM THE MOVIE". WHAT WAS THE BEST/WORSE THING ABOUT DOING A SELF-RELEASED RECORD?
Well, I guess the best thing about it is that all of the money goes directly to you. The worst thing about it is that you have to do it all yourself. Nobody knows who you are and you're less likely to make money from it.
SO BASICALLY IT'S THE PROMOTION END OF IT?
Either way you're screwed. When you have someone like Epitaph, or another label that's well established, put out your album they sell to a wider audience than you do. That helps people; at least get them initially interested in the band. And if they don't think you suck then they buy your album.
ALTHOUGH YOU ADDED FOUR SONGS IN ITS PLACE, WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO REMOVE THE SONG "1000 PAPER CRANES"?
I think that was more of the record label. We had three songs that were recorded for a split that never happened. For some reason it fell apart. So, we had these three songs and they weren't mixed or anything. Epitaph heard them and said they had to go on the new album. Then we did another version of "Capital H" for the record that we didn't original have, because we didn't like the way it turned out. They said we had to have that song on the album. For some reason they didn't want to have "1000 Paper Cranes", but they wanted to put it as a vinyl album. The cool thing is it's coming out on a European release to our single. Wait! I'm getting all confused. (Laughs) I believe it was on the single to "My Favorite Accident". I'm not sure. It was either that or it was on the single to "The Future Freaks Me Out". Anyway, it's a B-side to a single over there.
THE TITLE "THE BEST UNSIGNED BAND IN AMERICA" NO LONGER APPLIES TO MCS. AFTER PLAYING NUMEROUS LIVE SHOWS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND PUTTING OUT THE SELF-RELEASED VERSION OF "I AM THE MOVIE", WHAT LED YOU TO SIGN TO EPITAPH RECORDS?
Yeah, nobody else was interested. (Laughs) It was just dumb luck. A couple things were that there was maybe one interested record label. We had a lot of interest for a while and we played one of these awful record company show. It was a local showcase basically, where all the labels come and watch you. We played terribly! Just everything that could go wrong went wrong. So everyone who was interested in us lost interest. We then had to rebuild the interest on our own. At that point we had been talking to one record company and we were pretty much going to go with them, but then Brett Gurewitz just called us up and told us he was interested in us. He said he was coming to see us while we were playing in Los Angeles. I believe he came to all four shows. They were four of the worst shows we've played. But he had our record as a reference so he knew what I could do. At that point I could not sing. My voice was all thrown out from touring all the time. He had heard of us from one of their bands, Matchbook Romance, and they gave him one of our CDs. They were like, "This is what we're listening to. You should listen to them!" So that's the how the initial interest from Epitaph started. That's kind of how the story went.
WELL, IT SEEMED LIKE YOU GUYS WERE CAUTIOUS WHEN SIGNING TO A LABEL. AFTER ALL, YOU GUYS PROBABLY COULD HAVE BEEN PICKED UP DURING THE EARLY YEARS OF THE BAND...
There had been a few times. One really good friend of ours, Fred from Triple Crown, was looking at us in '99, but he passed on us. I guess that was probably good at the time. It would have been a disaster. I don't know, it just never came up and it never seemed right. The combination that we were all about to go to jail because we hadn't paid our rent and things like that, helped to solidify the move to a label. (Laughs)
LET'S TALK ABOUT "I AM THE MOVIE". YOU GUYS BROUGH IN ED ROSE (GET UP KIDS, ULTIMATE FAKEBOOK, THE ANNIVERSARY) TO PRODUCE IT. HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH HIM?
It was awesome! At first I thought he was a jerk. He's a tough love kind of guy. He knows how to manipulate and work people really well. So he knew what to say to you to get the kind of performance he knows you are capable of doing. It just got really bad. He was calling me a pre-Madonna and a jerk. He said we should get a guitar player to play guitar instead of a hack. (Laughs) He would piss us off just so we would get the part done right out of frustration. It was a combination because he had some weird sort of back surgery that week; we sucked as musicians and thought we could do the whole album in ten days. We were way wrong! It was day eight and we didn't have any vocals recorded yet. So, it was really tough. We went back a year later because we didn't have time to mix it well. After we signed to Epitaph we had more money so we re-recorded all the bass lines, because we had a different bass player at the time. I did some more vocals and then we added some keyboards here and there. I think he spent seven days mixing so he could have a product that he was comfortable with. We gave him some points on the record and it was awesome. He is great. We actually just recorded two songs with him. One is a Police song that is going on a tribute for Militia Group. Then we actually recorded a Limbeck song and covered in our style and they did one of ours in their style. We're going to be putting out a seven inch together. It's the holiday split!
WHAT BROUGHT ON THE TITLE "I AM THE MOVIE"?
That was something that Josh's older brother, Brian, came up with. I think it was a joke...a stab at me. It seemed to turn out well though. The songs had been written over the course of three or four years and I just kept thinking about how everything worked. It seemed to fit like a bunch of different scenes in a movie. Brian actually came up with the band name too! He was going to use it for something else, I think. He is kind like of our idea man. We steal his ideas and make records out of them. He gets no money for any of this! (Laughs)
"THE FUTUTE FREAKS ME OUT" IS THE FIRST SINGLE OFF THE ALBUM. I JUST GOT TO WATCH THE VIDEO. I REALLY GOT A KICK OUT OF IT. IT'S A FUN VIDEO. WHAT'S THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE VIDEO?
Originally I wanted to do a bunch of different movie scenes. You know, have a detective scene, a James Bond type of thing, space aliens, and a western scene. The western scene was the only one we kept. We went from that idea to, "How are we going to get this done without spending a ton of money?" Josh came up with the idea of the play. We had definite influences by Rushmore. So, we decided to come up with four or five scenes and go from there. Josh and I spent a lot of time storyboarding how we wanted the shots to go. We had the same guy direct it. I think one thing that I like about it is the fact that it has nothing to do with the song. We like to be sarcastic and we like to make jokes. To me that's the joke in this video. It doesn't make any sense and it's ridiculous! It's a fun video. I like the idea of us combing our hair out because all of our hair is usually pretty big.
THOUGH THAT IS YOUR FIRST SINGLE, YOU GUYS MADE A VIDEO FOR "MY FAVORITE ACCIDENT". I HAVE TO ASK...WHAT INSPIRED THE BIG PINK BUNNY?
That was a joke. We were making fun of generic rock videos. Usually you see these really bad videos with the band playing or a boy and girl in a relationship and everything's either really happy or shitty. So we decided to make that video. Only instead of a boy and girl it has a boy and a bunny.
DOES THE BAND HAVE ANY PART IN DETERMINING THE SINGLE?
I think it's the record label. Like, "My Favorite Accident" was first released in Europe. It was never meant to do anything. The record label gave us $5,000 and told us to shoot a video so we did. They liked it so much that they chopped it around and that kind of became our first song even though it wasn't official. "The Future Freaks Me Out" is the one that is official. I don't know. It's weird. I mean we're doing a lot of weird stuff that most people don't do. Shit, we direct our own videos.
THAT'S GREAT THOUGH. YOU GUYS ARE INDEPENDENT AND DON'T HAVE TO RELY ON ANYONE ELSE FOR THINGS LIKE THATTHAT.
Exactly. It's cool because that's what I've always wanted to do. I've actually always wanted to make movies. That's my ultimate goal. We kind of get to make mini-movies by making music videos.
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL EVER GET TO MAKE A MOVIE?
I hope so! I'll go totally broke doing it, but at least be able to do something really small with my own money. It's not a lot of money, so the project might be really tiny. (Laughs) That's the only way you can do it!
"I AM THE MOVIE" IS A GREAT RECORD. YOU CAN LISTEN TO IT WITHOUT SKIPPING FROM SONG TO SONG. HOW DOES THE SONG WRITING PROCESS WORK IN MCS?
Usually one or two people come up with ideas. That's how it has been in the past. I'm not sure how it's going to be in the future. Tony, Matt, and Jesse are so new. I think only three of the songs on the album were written by everyone that's currently in the band. All the rest, they are playing parts that are written by someone else and they change to fit themselves. Most of the things we came up with on the spot. Usually Josh and I will come up with a part and we'll play it for the other one. Then we'll say yes or no. Once it gets past that, we play it for the rest of the group. Ideas can change and shit so we can spend a whole day on one song, just orchestrating it. I'd say the last thing that's written is the singing and keyboard lines. That's usually how we write.
GRANTED YOU ALL HAVE DIFFERENT MUSICAL TASTES, YOU PULL TOGETHER TO CREATE SOME KILLER MUSIC. HOW DOES THAT WORK?
I really don't know. I don't have another reference other than our band, so I can't say. But I do know we're totally different people. More of us get along and get each others humor than others do. Tony and Matt have grown up together so they know each other really well. Their sense of humor is the same. Same with Josh and me, our sense of humor is the same. We're all into different things. Tony is really into movies. He remembers movie quotes, where as I remember them wrong. That goes into the music we listen to. Like, we went to go see Kill Bill the other night and all of us loved it except for Jesse. He hated it. So it was really weird. Like, I don't think any of them listen to electronic music. Jesse might listen to a little bit, but not the annoying stuff. I just love electronic music. I love the crazy drum and bass. I'm a huge Carpenters fan. I don't know if anyone else likes the Carpenters. I know Matt and I listen to a lot of Metallica and Megadeath. He listens to more of Iron Maiden and stuff. I'm totally going off! Anyways, we all listen to a lot of different things and, if anything, it opens you up to a broader spectrum of sound.
WHO OR WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SINGLE INFLUENCE IN TERMS OF THE WAY YOU CONDUCT YOUR MUSIC OR YOUR LIFE?
I have and, in some degree, do live in a fantasy world by movies. I think as a kid too I would go see a movie and become those people in the movie. In some degree I still do that. I tend to get a lot of ideas that way. As far as musical influences, I really like the people who tell a story. I love Karen Carpenter's and Bjork's voice. I have to say, I love Ben Fold's and Tom Waits' lyrics. There are so many amazing story tellers. I want to be at that level one day. They really motivate me. There are so many, but mainly the ones that tell stories.
THE ENERGY YOU PUT FORTH AT LIVE SHOWS IS AMAZING. WAS THERE EVER A POINT YOU WERE STANDSTILL AND UNCOMFORTABLE ON STAGE?
Oh yeah, especially when I was in high school! I think the term that was thrown around back then was "shoe-gazer". I think that was spawned from the early 90s late 80s...I don't even know! (Laughs) To me it was bands like My Bloody Valentine. You know bands that didn't move around, just kind of looked at their feet and had a lot of pedals and effects. When I was in high school that was the kind of music I liked and played. Back then I was really nervous and couldn't get up in front of people. I guess over the course of playing so many times and being forced in front of people I got more comfortable. I use to play the keyboard, the guitar, and sing. I was constantly busy and couldn't move around much. When we got Jesse as the main keyboard player it freed me up a bit. I don't really know what I'm doing. I just act like a spazz. Josh and I were talking about how we would rather be an active band than a non-active one. Shit! Like Superchunks! The singer never stops jumping around. They are so fun to watch. I guess a lot of the bands we saw were always jumping around and acting crazy, so we're just continuing that.
DEFINITELY. NO ONE WANTS TO SEE A BAND JUST STAND THERE UPTIGHT.
Well shit! The way I look at it too is we spend six hours in a bed, if we're lucky! Then we spend ten hours in a van and the other seven hours we're just standing around. So the one hour we have to play we put on a show! I mean one hour is not a lot of time. It's good exercise too. (Laughs)
HAVE YOU NOTICED A RAPID INCREASE IN YOUR FAN BASE AFTER PLAYING WARPED TOUR THIS LAST SUMMER?
Yes, a definite increase. The tour with the All American Rejects helped a lot too. That was amazing. It keeps getting better. I'm really excited for these UK dates. We were there with Sugarcult a while back and that was a lot of fun.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC TO SOMEONE THAT HAS NEVER HEARD MCS?
I really don't know. It's really hard to describe yourself. I'd say take a lot of the early 90s music that was slightly underground and never really broke, and mix that with some of the 80s synth pop bands. Also, definite television commercial and pop culture references sprinkled about. Something to that degree.
WHATS CDS ARE YOU CURRENTLY LISTENING TO?
We just got back from the recording studio, so I've been listening to the two songs we recorded. I get really worried. You know, in the studio you hear something and you can't really pick out any of the mistakes. I've been listening to Mae and Fallout Boy a lot, from the Rufio tour. I like them a lot. I've been listening to a lot of older music that I hadn't listened to a while. I really haven't been listening to a lot of music because we've had the past week off. I've been sleeping and watching movies.
YOU JUST TOLD ME ABOUT THE POLICE SONG YOU GUYS COVERED. IF YOU COULD COVER ANY OTHER SONG, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
"68" by Jawbox. That's the song I want to cover. It's a great.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR MCS?
Hopefully a lot of beer, a piñata, a hair pin, and some hair products!
By Courtney Riot