warped tour coverage: an interview with motion city soundtrack
  • MONDAY, JULY 26, 2010

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After surviving four (four!) dates of Warped Tour, I'm finally back with some more exclusive interviews with some of the people who are putting it all out there everyday in the sweltering heat nationwide on the tour. Motion City Soundtrack is a band that needs no introduction seeing as they've been doing this for thirteen years. I (along with a few others) sat down with Warped Tour veterans Justin Pierre (vocals/guitar) and Joshua Cain (guitar/backing vocals) for a quick look into their Warped experience, their music, and their various other projects.

If My Dinosaur Life could be the soundtrack of any movie, what would it be and why?

Justin Pierre: A movie that exists? Well, it kind of, in a weird way, turned out to be the soundtrack to my life in the last few years. Its weird because its very autobiographical. Its weird how that turned out because each song is like in order too. I dont know, I cant think of any movies. Maybe like, I dont know, I'll sound like a jerk no matter what I say, so I'll say something Cameron Crowe might write. But I mean, I like him, so that's me aiming way up here.

You got the title of the album in a really funny way. For those who dont know can you explain the title?

JP: Well I misquoted a...it was a misquote from a movie that I was watching and I was going around saying this quote and it ended up being wrong. But it ended up being better because then it was original. Thats kind of what I do: sort of remember things wrongly and then end up saying...
Joshua Cain: Wasn't the real thing like, What do you think of your dragon life?
JP: Yeah, You're thinking about your dragon life. Yeah but for some reason I thought it said dinosaur so I kept saying that.
JC: Dragons and dinosaurs.
JP: They both start with ds.

How do you think you've grown as a band and as individuals since playing together?

JP: Apart, apart. Uh, no actually we all live in different cities except for he and I, we both live in Minneapolis. But everybody else is all over the U.S.
JC: Well yeah, I think we've all grown up, now playing music together for so long that its just kind of...it's just like this bond of how we play music together. I dont know, it's hard to explain. It's just there. We write really well together and...
JP: Yeah that part's gotten better, easier. Its kind of like we can read each other. We cant stand each other.
JC: Yeah, off camera we beat the crap out of each other.

You've worked with Mark Hoppus twice on two different occasions, one for Commit This To Memory and the other for My Dinosaur Life, how did that change if at all?

JC: He got a lot more relaxed. First time around I feel like, not like in the attitude, he's always relaxed, but in how we did things, he was very strict about certain things on the first record being certain ways. Where as the second record, he wanted things to be a little more human and less making sure that they're perfect. Enlightening the performance and not worrying about...not that its bad...
JP: I feel like that was his first project so there was a lot of pressure on him to make sure its perfect and right. I think that would scare anybody. And then after doing a few records and then coming back to us I think he was more relaxed now, like he'd done so many.
JC: Confident. He was confident. Not that that guy needs anymore confidence.
JP: Well...
JC: We joke.
JP: We joke.

You guys are heading out in the fall on a tour with Say Anything, Saves the Day, a Halloween show was just announced, but when will an official announcement with all the dates be made?

JC: Very soon.
JP: 2012.
JC: Really soon. I think we just started with that one date that was announced and the rest of it...I actually just saw an email with a bunch of dates so I think...its just kind of like as the process gets closer it's getting there. I dont know when the official date releases are but it's very soon.
JP: But sh*t is going down, I apologize for the swear, and its going to be crazy.

How have your musical inspirations changed from the first day you started to now?

JP: I dont know, I feel like I'm stuck in a sort of time warp where I really like a lot of music from a certain time period, and Ive gone definitely back in time to different...
JC: I feel like weve reverted a lot, there was a while where we started listening to a lot of new music and stuff like that and then there was a point in our lives where we reverted back to where we were.
JP: I really dont know if there's a lot of bands that have blown my mind in the last 10 to 15 years. Well, there's a couple. This band [pointing to shirt] Metric. Id say Metric is probably my most favorite band for the last 10 years. And they're not new, but I remember when Death Cab for Cutie came out I was like, Wow this is totally different.
JC: I've been all over the place. I feel like now there's a lot of cool bands, Ive been listening to Passion Pit, Phoenix. I dont know what influences me necessarily, I just think I like that music. My influences are set in stone since I've started.
JP: Big Black. That's it. That's all we listen to.
JC: Yeah only black death metal, thats what I listen to.

Did you find it more difficult to record My Dinosaur Life since Tony [Thaxton, drums] had a broken arm?

JP: I think it was easier because we didn't have him sitting around bitching about everything all the time. So that part was a lot easier. But we did run into a lot of roadblocks writing.
JC: Writing was where it was really tough.
JP: We developed new ways to do that. Like instead of all writing together we would all write by ourselves and send the snippets of things to each other and add to it until we had the song. That was something new that we hadn't really done before.
JC: It was fun to try out something new because...normally when you write with other people, you write something and then other people get bored with it. But when youre writing at home by yourself you can finish the idea and then send it off and say, "this is the idea". And you get past that whole process where some people might not see where you're going with it. That was kind of the cool part about it. I'm all about all being in the same room and having the magic happen, but sometimes it doesn't happen that way.
JP: But when it does it's magical.
JC: Good one. So yeah it was interesting. It was definitely weird to do the drums last because it kind of took that last moment when he was playing drums on the song for us to feel like we had made an album.
JP: Before that it was like a month and a half of kind of sounds like a song but...
JC:Yeah its like everythings there except for the...it's kind of like real crappy drum sounds and then oh that's cool.
JP: I don't know what you're saying.
JC: I don't know what I'm saying.
JP: You're just speaking jibberish to me.

You guys are heading out in January to Brazil with All Time Low, how stoked are you for that?

JP: It's going to be amazing.
JC: Brazil is like the...that's really cool. I don't know where it came from, if the Brazilian people wanted us or if it was the...we share the same booking agent as All Time Low.
JP: I do know that there had been talk like way in the past about us doing a tour together, it just never really worked out and then this time it did.
JC: It may have been them, they could've been like, We wanna take them.
JP: Yeah. Very excited for that.

So youve been on Warped Tour numerous times...

JP: Seven.
Yeah so how does that make you feel?
JP: I feel like I always love the idea at the time, and then I get on Warped Tour and then its like...I don't know. Its hard to explain. I think it's great though too because youve got all these bands playing and somebody comes to see this band and they may just be watching you because the band that they want to see is after you. So then they might find out about you and like you. It's like a new way to get people interested in different types of music.

During the promotion of the album you used Twitter a lot. Do you find it easier to use Twitter to reach the fans as opposed to going through the label?

JP: It was faster and it was easier and I had less words, less letters to use. I dont know, it was just fun for me because it was just like, "Okay, I'm doing this in an hour, show up". And then sometimes there would be one person, sometimes there'd be 300 kids.
JC: It's just such a great new tool that exists.
JP: Amazing technology!
JC: I was just listening to the Twitter founder guy on NPR the other day and he was saying, his best analogy, I think analogy is the right word for that, for what Twitter is is you see a flock of birds and they all move and circle around one object, its like they're communicating up there together but not, you know what I mean, like it's just like fluid motion and real time communication. It's nice to have that ability. As a group to communicate in a fluid motion like that.

Can you tell us about your Give A Little Help charity project?

JP: Oh yes! I'm glad you asked that! We just started this thing, it's called Give A Little Help. It's a campaign, basically, to be as simple as I can, it's about doing selfless acts, it's about people doing something for someone else or something else in need and getting nothing out of it other than the satisfaction of knowing that you're making the world a better place. That's basically the gist of it and if you go to motioncitysoundtrack.com you can read up on it and we're having people submit videos of what they're doing and the people who do it, how do I say this in a simple way, the people who go to the site vote on their favorite ideas, like who they want to help, and were going to give a bunch of money and go around and highlight these particular causes that people like yourselves are doing.
JC: The videos don't have to be nice. Just do it. I dont want anybody to be scared to do it. They should just do it.
JP: Its about the idea. It's not about how you present it.

You had a rough past, you were addicted to alcohol, how did that affect you?

JP: F*cked me all up.

Besides that, like on My Dinosaur Life, like how it was written.

JP: I feel like, that...if you listen, at least like the first half of the record is kind of about this time of like being sober and falling off the deep end and then coming up back through it and just sort of evening out. At least thats how I look at the record. The low point was probably the song "Delirium". That and "Disappear". And then it gets better and then it gets worse and then it gets better.

So Josh youve been on and off the tour with the birth of your child, was it at all different playing without him?

JP: Nope. Oh, of course, of course. But we did have Brian Southall playing guitar so that was pretty awesome. Its been 13 years since weve not played together. So it was the first time in 13 years that we did not play together. I was sad a little bit, I got myself a teddy bear...
JC: But he was bummed out because he couldn't look over at my side of the stage and see me looking at him evilly because hes f*cking up.
JP: Every time I look over there he gives me the stare of death. But that look actually means I love you.

****
My Dinosaur Life is out now via Columbia. Check out Motion City Soundtrack on tour this fall. -hanna kasper

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Motion City Soundtrack on Myspace

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