Together since 1997, Minneapolis' Motion City Soundtrack is originally the product of vocalist/guitarist Justin Pierre and guitarist/backing vocalist Josh Cain, who decided to start a band together after previously playing shows with one another while in different bands during high school. The rest of the band's lineup has since solidified over the years, with drummer Tony Thaxton, bassist Matt Taylor on bass and Moog keyboardist Jesse Johnson filling out the five-piece. Having released its debut album, I Am The Movie, just last month on seminal punk label Epitaph Records, Motion City Soundtrack's hard work playing high-energy basement shows around the Midwest in hopes of building a loyal fan base have proven to be just the beginning. Recoil talked music, movies and more with Cain by phone during a short lull in the band's solid spring/summer touring schedule.
Recoil: How would you say going out on your upcoming record release tour compares with, say, touring with The All American Rejects, which you wrapped up earlier this year?
Josh Cain: The biggest difference is that kids know who we are! On The All American Rejects tour [our goal] was one where we get on stage and we're like, 'Okay, we have to make these kids like us. Period.' With this, we have to make these kids keep liking us. We can't do routines. We can't play the same sets. The kids, a lot of them at least on this tour will follow us around so we need to mix things up, which obviously is harder for a band when you want to have everything be really tight and fast, you've got to pre-plan some more, but it works that way. On this tour it will be a little more kind of haphazard every night depending on what we're going to play.
R: What was it like touring with The All American Rejects?
JC: It was awesome. They were awesome dudes. They're very gracious hosts. It wasn't like they're in their dressing room and we wouldn't talk to them, they're our friends and we got to hang out the whole time. It was because we had known them before, so we kind of had a relationship with them. So it was like touring with friends in front of thousands of kids every night. It was a pretty weird experience. It started feeling way too normal by the end and then we were like, 'Oh, we've got to go back to playing shows with a lot less people at them.' But whatever.
R: I read in your bio that you describe your music as 'serious songs that are kinda funny in a Todd Solondz (writer/director of Happiness) sort of way.' How would you describe that comparison?
JC: I don't know where that quote came from. It's probably some misconstrued statement from one of us saying something and not really [meaning it]. Todd Solondz has some pretty terrible things happen in his movies. So I would say that it's a mild version of that. Mild. Todd Solondz's movies are obviously about somewhat normal; like Welcome to the Dollhouse, growing up and dealing with life. Real things that happen to people a lot actually. I think Justin was talking about it the other day and he said that like fifty percent of everything he sings about is fact. Fifty percent is embellished a little bit. You know, it's just that the meaning behind our songs sometimes is a little darker than it may seem. [It's] covered up by the music. I don't know. I don't know if that explains that at all.
R: Would you say that movies or anything like that influence your music?
JC: Oh, for sure. I mean like Justin, our singer, for one, all he's obsessed with movies and we basically have to strong-arm him into paying attention to music when all he wants to do is movies. And he's written a bunch of scripts. He had a lot to do with how our video turned out. It's like, that's his passion, and music, actually, he's finally realized that we all had different passions [but] the only thing we're actually good at is music, so we should probably just pay attention to that since we're a little better at it.
R: How did you react when you first saw your video for 'My Favorite Accident' on MTV.com and Fuse (Much Music)?
JC: We were ecstatic - it's just weird. It's still bewildering me. It's like a video that we made that didn't have any intentions to do that, it was just made to put on the web and it was made with a very, very shoestring budget. It was fun, but it was not meant to be our single or our video, and so it's been awesome, it's exactly how I hoped things like that would go; that people would not wait until the one song that they wanted on the record to become the single, they actually just started playing this one and it's just awesome to me. I'm still flabbergasted by it. I hope it has a long life.
R: How much creative input did the band have on the making of the video?
JC: Me and Justin actually somewhat directed it and helped also with giving some creative input. We wrote the whole thing and then we got our friend Andrew Carranza to help us out by filming it and [being] the cinematographer and helping us direct it, but it was our laws, we were like, 'no, no.' I'm sitting in front of the little video prompter while we're shooting the thing [saying], 'No, no, that shot's not going to work.' It was very awesome, I've never done anything like that before. And as for the label, we just sent them a treatment and they were like, 'Cool, do it,' so we're hoping that continues.
R: Do you have any upcoming videos planned?
JC: Well, I mean at some point I hoped to make a video for 'The Future Freaks Me Out,' and I think that is planned, we're just trying to get the treatments together and have someone, I think we're going to try to involve some other people, not just be so us. We have a couple ideas that are coming off of people and having them write the treatments for those ideas and then we'll probably tell them to change it. That's how we tackle new things.