Although Motion City Soundtrack originally started about 10 years ago in Minneapolis, things have recently picked up for the quintet. One reason: an official seal of approval from Blink-182's Mark Hoppus, who fell for the band's high-powered, punk-inflected, Superchunk-esque rock. Hoppus even produced the band's second album, Commit This to Memory. Another leg up: the band's signature viral music videos, most notably the YouTube hit "Broken Heart," from MCS' 2003 album I Am the Movie (www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xQ3v-_jscQ).
The band's third album, Even if It Kills Me, dropped this past fall. A major national tour with Anberlin and Mae quickly followed. Now they're out again on the megahyped Honda Civic Tour, playing second fiddle only to Panic at the Disco. New Times caught up by phone with founding member and guitarist Joshua Cain. Read an excerpt of the interview here.
Motion City Soundtrack
Honda Civic Tour: Featuring Panic at the Disco, Motion City Soundtrack, The Hush Sound, and Phantom Planet. Wednesday, April 23. The Fillmore, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Show starts at 7 p.m.; tickets cost $33; www.ticketmaster.com
New Times: So you're on the road constantly. When and where did you write most of Even if It Kills Me?
Joshua Cain: Well, we tried to write some on the Warped Tour. Then right after we were touring, we wrote some more. Then we went on tour with the [All-American] Rejects, then took the holidays off, and we got back together in New York in January and wrote the rest.
So are you the kind of band that has almost everything done by preproduction?
We like to be. This time around, Justin (Pierre, guitars and vocals), had a lot of lyrics that weren't quite finished this time, going into preproduction. But the last record, Commit This to Memory, was mostly done before preproduction. This time there were a couple songs that were straggling.
Why do you think that is?
Well, Justin was in a different head space this time around. Before, he was really angry and mad, and he was drunk, and when you're drunk, I guess a lot of writing just happens [laughs]. But I guess when you're drunk, you're also your own worst critic. So this album was written more deliberately, and he wasn't drunk.
Does he usually just write his lyrics at the end of the songwriting process, then?
Sometimes it's a full package done all at once; sometimes he writes a little bit. But usually with songs like "Last Night" from Even if It Kills Me, I'll have an idea at home, I'll come down to practice, I'll play it, and everyone spontaneously plays stuff. If that happens, it's a good song. Those are usually our best songs.
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Where are you guys based now on your downtime?
Well, only two of us live in the same state. Me and Justin live in Minneapolis, and that's where the band is based because that's where it started. But [bass player] Matt [Taylor] lives in Richmond, Virginia; [Moog player] Jesse Johnson lives in Brooklyn, New York; and Tony lives in L.A.
So it's a matter of flying and meeting up somewhere when you're ready to start working on something.
Honestly we're usually around each other, because we're always working. We only have like a month off, two months tops. Because when we're making the record we're not off, that's three months right there. The longest I've ever had off in the last six years was six weeks — right before this record came out. And once the record came out, things started rolling again.