Motion City Soundtrack is a rock band based in America. The band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1997, with only two of the founding members still part of the lineup. It currently consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Justin Pierre, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Joshua Cain, keyboardist and moog synthesist Jesse Johnson, bassist and backing vocalist Matthew Taylor with drummer, percussionist and backing vocalist Tony Thaxton. Motion City Soundtrack have released three studio albums and sold almost 600,000 records throughout their career, including over half a million in the United States alone.
Motion City Soundtrack's first release was a 7" single, "Promenade/Carolina", in 1999. The following year they released their debut EP, Kids for America, and then a second, Back to the Beat. They released debut album I Am the Movie twice, in 2002. Their first five releases were all self-released with the aide of a small record label. Backed up by their constant touring it fashioned them a fast growing fan base, and a signing with Epitaph Records.
After spending their first five years finding the right lineup, the Epitaph re-issue of I Am the Movie in 2003 was the band's big break. First major single "The Future Freaks Me Out" arrived with live and television success, but failed in radio airplay and the charts. 2003 and 2004 brought three Split EPs alongside Schatzi, Limbeck and Matchbook Romance. The second album, Commit This to Memory, has been the epitome of MCS' sales to date, selling 285,000+ records and peaking at #2 on the Top Independent Albums chart. It featured single, "Everything Is Alright", which also found success on the likes of MTV, but also fell short in radio airplay and the charts.
The release of Even If It Kills Me in 2007 propelled the band to their most successful chart results. The album debuted at #16 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top Independent Albums chart. It produced singles "Broken Heart", "This Is for Real" and "It Had to Be You", which all received television airplay.
Currently, the band is enjoying international recognition, with strong fan bases in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Australia.
The formation of Motion City Soundtrack was made possible after the separation of two local bands. Joshua Cain of Saddest Girl Story recruited Justin Pierre from Slide Coaster, instigating the formation of Motion City Soundtrack in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1997. The band's first lineup comprised of only two of the current members, guitarist Cain and vocalist Pierre. It also contained guitarist Joe Skinner who didn't last until the end of the year, and later, drummer Andrew Whitney. According to Cain, they soon realized that there "wasn't really anywhere to play [shows] in Minneapolis", and that they would have to "tour all the time" to get the name out there. The name Motion City Soundtrack was thought up by Josh Cain's brother, Jesse, who Josh says "made up a name for something he was goofing around with, just as an idea, and I asked if we could use it", and they did.
In January 1998 Motion City Soundtrack played their first live show, and throughout 1998 they played local shows and had numerous lineup changes. Andrew Gruhn joined the band briefly on the moog synthesizer, Whitney departed, and Austin Lindstrom took over the bass position, with Joel Habedank, formerly of Sadie Foster and the Fuck Yeahs, on drums. Later in 1998, Gruhn departed, leaving Cain and Pierre to share the moog duties, and the band as a four piece to record with Randy Duerr at Wigged Out. These recordings would later turn out to be their 7" vinyl release, Promenade/Carolina, marking the official formation of the band in 1999.
In the early 2000s the band did more chopping and changing of their lineup, with the inclusion and then departure of short-lived bassist, Matthew Potocnik, it also saw the exclusions of drummer Joel Habedank as well as bassist Lindstrom, after his second stint. In mid-2000, MCS released their first CD EP, entitled Kids for America, it was self-produced, recorded by Sound in Motion and co-released with Modern Radio Records, coinciding with their tour alongside local band, AMP 176 The first EP was closely followed by Back to the Beat. The second EP was also self-produced and later notably reviewed by music website Punk News in April 2001, one of the band's first official reviews.
2002 saw the formation of Motion City Soundtrack's lineup as it is today. The departures of drummer Sidney Burgdorf and Austin Lindstrom prompted the additions of two former members of Richmond, Virginia-based band Submerge, drummer Tony Thaxton, and months later bassist Matt Taylor. Thaxton initially took about a year to convince to join the band. Jesse Johnson, who worked with Cain at a Pizza shop in Minneapolis was the last current day member to join the band. He joined just three weeks before the initial recording of their first album and in this time, learned the moog synthesizer from without any prior experience.
In mid-2002 Motion City Soundtrack twice self-released their debut album, I Am the Movie. It would later become the basis for their first full-length studio album, of the same name. The album was originally produced by Ed Rose, who had previously worked with The Get Up Kids, Ultimate Fakebook and The Anniversary. It was recorded at Red House Studios in Walnut Creek, California, with Punk News describing the production as "nothing short of stellar". I Am the Movie was unusually released originally in the form of a five and a half inch floppy disc and sleeve.
Motion City Soundtrack released the album a third time through Epitaph Records in June 2003. It was partially re-recorded, with the bass guitar parts being redone by new bassist Matt Taylor, for legal reasons.
Backed by the success of their first album, Motion City Soundtrack toured for quite some time and in 2003 released the third track on I Am the Movie, "The Future Freaks Me Out", as their first single, which became a modest hit. According to the band's official website, the song's success was surprising, as the band "wrote the song in mere hours and it almost didn't even make it onto their debut. A second single was released later that year, "My Favorite Accident".
The title, Commit This to Memory, was chosen early in the album's production, and is taken from a lyric in one of the album's songs, "Hangman". Production work on Commit This to Memory was finished in early 2005, and the album's winter theme (with two songs reflecting on New Year's Day) contrasted heavily with its expected June release.
The album was leaked to illegal file sharing websites within a day of the final mastering and months before its official release, whilst the band took part in the first ever Epitaph Tour in February and March of 2005. Epitaph placed computer arresting software on the official release of Commit This to Memory to resist any further damages due to piracy. The precautions were reported to heavily limit how you could play and listen to the disc.
On June 20, 2006, the band released a special Deluxe Edition of the album, it included an extra track "Invisible Monsters", a DVD with three hours of footage containing a documentary, a live show and five of their music videos, including a video for the song "L.G. FUAD", which was made especially for the re-issue. The live concert was shot at the 7th Street Entry show in their hometown of Minneapolis.
The album's first single, "Everything Is Alright" featuring Patrick Stump noted as Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Mark Hoppus and members of Limbeck, has found significant radio play and has already appeared on several compilations. The song's video has appeared on MTV and Fuse channel, and has also appeared on the Saint's Row soundtrack. The song was also featured in the trailer for the 2006 comedy movie Accepted. "Everything Is Alright" also appeared in the soundtrack for the video game "MLB 06: The Show". The band's second video from the song, "Hold Me Down", proved to be a lesser success.
In January 2007, MCS was announced as having one of the most anticipated upcoming albums of 2007, they were featured on the issue #222 front cover of music magazine, Alternative Press, in the Most Anticipated Albums of 2007 edition.
The band recorded their third studio album with two different sets of record producers at separate times. Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains of Wayne) and Eli Janney (of Girls Against Boys) were responsible for seven of the final tracks on the record, and former frontman of The Cars, Ric Ocasek, for the other five. The two separate recording sessions created a concern over whether the album would hold a consistent vibe, drummer Tony Thaxton stating "[it's] something we definitely worried about. Our solution that we set was that it had to be all mixed by one guy", the band hired one "big name" audio engineer, Tom Lord-Alge, to mix eleven of the tracks, the exception being "The Conversation", as it was only piano and vocals.
In anticipation of the upcoming album, the band released a series of 'webisodes' (video blogs) in early 2007. A collaboration between vocalist Pierre and bassist Taylor was captured on camera and consequently, viewers saw the birth of the song "The Conversation", a song that featured as track seven on the eventuating album. The webisodes were released through a specially made website for the album, titled EvenIfItKillsMe.tv, with the videos being created by the brother of Joshua Cain, Jesse. The six videos also included clips of songs from the then upcoming album.
After the disastrous circumstances with the leak of their second album, the band took precautions prior to their third album in 2007. Advanced copies were handed out to marketers and reviewers with a warning, or as Joshua Cain described it, "a threatening letter". Alternatively, Motion City Soundtrack invited the relevant parties to a Nike ID Studio to listen to the third album.
The album eventuated as their most successful both commercially and critically. It received positive reviews from numerous sources, with British magazine Kerrang and music website Rock Louder both giving it four out of five stars, as well as Absolute Punk awarding it a commendable 83%. Even If It Kills Me topped the Top Independent Albums charts at #1, as well as reaching #16 on the Billboard 200, selling around 33,000 albums in its first week.
Eight months after the initial release of their third album, MCS released a five track Acoustic EP featuring acoustic versions of songs from Even If It Kills Me. The songs were released exclusively on May 6, 2008, through the iTunes Music Store, as part of a bonus bundle package of Even If It Kills Me. A physical release of the EP is expected for later in 2008.
In June 2008, Joshua Cain and Justin Pierre announced several times throughout a podcast with Alternative Press that they would be moving from Epitaph to Columbia Records, a subsidiary to major label Sony BMG.
Justin Pierre and Joshua Cain formed the band with shared inspiration from Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbox, The Flaming Lips, and Superchunk. They've since been noted as being influenced by Braid and The Rentals, "early 90s rock", Elvis Costello, Pixies, 80s music, dance music and Ben Folds.
The band's musical style is widely recognisable by its unique blend of pop punk with the moog synthesizer. They have been widely attributed to a number of different genres, including pop rock, indie rock, punk revival and the usual reference of pop punk. They have been said to display "more pop than any other genre" which mix in "alternative-based, acoustic songs" to "switch up the successful flavor that gained them notoriety. The band has been described as being "too diverse to fit into just one particular genre," with Pierre replying by suggesting the band could fit into "Scrabble rock. Not Fraggle rock. You know the game Scrabble, where you’ve got to come up with the big words and you get the most points," he was referring to the lyrical content of the songs, where he admits he must sometimes use a dictionary to "fact-check".
Their debut album, I Am the Movie has been described as having a "distinctly unified and identifiable style." An article by The News Record's Jeff Miller in 2004 said, "inspirations for the band's style range from Elvis Costello to Huey Lewis, but it is more appropriately described as a fusion of Jimmy Eat World and The Get Up Kids, enough high-energy to classify under punk, contrasted with enough emo lyrics to fill up a LiveJournal." Motion City Soundtrack's "synth-pop-punk" style has been brought upon by "lyrics and guitar lines that are purposefully designed to get stuck in your head, all perpetuated by the catchiness of Johnson's keyboards."
The band's third studio album, Even If It Kills Me, came with more of a pop sound than the previous two. Jesse Johnson has said the band had the opportunity to add "elements such as strings onto the latest record." The Daily Cardinal said that the "album is true to the band’s fast-paced punk roots while remaining firmly anchored in catchy bubblegum pop melodies," demonstrating the band's "maturing style" while "the pop-punchers play it safe and stick to what they know best."
Motion City Soundtrack has embarked on tours frequently from the start. Being a small time band from Minneapolis, they featured in tours alongside other local acts such as AMP 176. As they grew a larger fan base they begun playing shows with other bands in a similar progression towards success. They played basement shows with Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects before they all found their commercial success, with Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz opening some small punk club shows for them. Since then Motion City Soundtrack has said that their level of success was due to the constant touring they have always done, it has gained them recognition as one of the hardest working bands in the genre of pop punk. Backed by the success of their first album and their signing to Epitaph, Motion City Soundtrack toured for quite some time, having venues in the UK upgraded to accommodate a larger audience for shows alongside The All-American Rejects and Limbeck. In 2004 they played around 320 shows. They were invited to tour with Blink 182 through Europe and Japan, with Blink 182 bassist Mark Hoppus taking a liking to them and later producing their second album, Commit This to Memory.
Gradually working their way up, the band have been on multiple worldwide tours, notably through Japan, the UK and Australia where they've built a name for themselves with their enthusiasm and energetic live shows. In 2005, the band's heavy touring saw them on their first Australian tour alongside punk rockers MxPx, the Nintendo Fusion tour with Fall Out Boy, The Starting Line and Boys Night Out, as well as playing their third straight Warped Tour.
In late 2007 they embarked on a US Fall Tour with Anberlin, Metro Station and Mae. Continued support for their third album saw them supporting headliners Panic at the Disco alongside The Hush Sound on the 2008 Honda Civic Tour. Motion City Soundtrack now holds a reputation as a headline act and main stage performer at large concerts and music festivals. Headlining dates on America’s Warped Tour in 2008 and playing main stage around Australia’s Soundwave Festival in 2008, alongside massive acts The Offspring, Killswitch Engage and Incubus.