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Interview: Motion City Soundtrack

8 min read

Back in 2005, synth-punk band Motion City Soundtrack unveiled their second album Commit This To Memory. Featuring the band’s signature track Everything Is Alright, the record was a huge success and propelled Motion City Soundtrack’s musical career.

Now the band’s preparing the release of their sixth studio album, as well as currently embarking on an extensive tour to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the release of Commit This To Memory. We were lucky enough to catch up with Josh Cain, the lead guitarist, to talk about the tour, the band, and the new record…

Stephanie Ochona: Hi Josh, how are you and where in the world does our interview find you today?

Josh Cain: I’m good. I’m in New York City, below a freeway underpass. We’re in our tour bus.

Motion City Soundtrack - Commit This To Memory

SO: You’re currently touring to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Commit This To Memory. What are your fondest moments of putting that album together?

JC: That album, you know, it was a strange time because there was a lot of turmoil within our band at the moment we made that record. Cause Justin, our singer, well, we kind of figured out that he was a complete fuck up at the time and was way out of his mind, drinking a lot. So there was that going on. But it was also the first time we made a record together in a destination. We were out in California, basically living there for a few months with a pool and sunshine and working with Mark Hoppus from Blink 182. So there was a crazy amount of emotions, but at the same time we were really into making the record and focused on making that happen, focused on getting our singer healthier. We were just trying to soak it all in. I mean, our first album, I Am The Movie we kinda paid for ourselves, we signed to Epitaph, and then we toured forever. And then when we made this record. And it was like ‘Okay, you have a month to make a record, you guys have to go to California and make it, and write it.’ So we were out there writing this record and it was the first time we felt like we made it as a band. It was like ‘Wow, this is our job now.’

SO: How has the tour been so far?

JC: It’s been awesome getting out here and playing. We’ve done album shows during the previous two years, but the 10 year anniversary has been really special. People come out and they’re really excited and have a good time, which makes us have a good time. Even when we’re having a bad time, we have a good time.

SO: How does a performance of an entire album differ from a normal gig?

JC: Well, you know, it’s kinda strange because we do play a lot of songs from Commit This To Memory in our sets anyway, but we get to play more of the deeper cuts we haven’t been paying attention to much like ‘Revolutions’. And you get to see how the album flows in a live situation. You listen to it on a CD, but not however it’s all gonna work live with different pauses. It’s a nice experience to see how your physical artwork is now translating into this kind of performance.

SO: What do you prefer?

JC: I like both for different reasons. Some days it’s really relaxing to make a scrambled setlist. But because it’s [an album setlist] really routine, I don’t want that to happen, having the live set with us hammering out what we do every night. So that’s the downfall. But we do come up and play extra songs. We try to change those up. We play the whole album, we let it finish, then we let the people take it all in and if they’re still excited we’ll come out and play an extra 8 songs, at least.

SO: You’ve been performing with these guys for so long now, what motivates you to perform after doing it for almost 20 years?

JC: We love to play music. We love to write and record and release them. We also love to play shows. The audience and their reaction and energy is what motivates me. If we go play a show and everyone’s just standing there and not enjoying themselves, I’m not enjoying myself. I don’t want to play the show. But it’s not like that normally, most of the time I’m like ‘This is awesome, they’re all yelling at me and having a good time!’ and we just feed off that energy.

SO: Do you have a favourite gig that you’ve done?

JC: Yeah, there’s a few out there in my life. When we did this show in Minneapolis, our home town, it was really special. It was great. The audience was going nuts and it was just a lot of fun.

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SO: Do you still get nervous before you go on stage?

JC: Sometimes. If I think about. I tend to not think about it. But when I do think about it what I’m going to do, I get nervous.

SO: There’s a couple of weeks between the American and Australian leg of the tour, what do you plan on doing during that time?

JC: I’m gonna go camping with my daughter and my wife. Spend as much time as I can with them and connecting with my family, being real family-ish is important to us. That’s how I got into this job, we spend a lot of time away from our families and it’s important that we stay connected to them.

SO: What remedies for being homesick and must-haves do you take on tour with you?

JC: Our trusted computer devices keep us pretty happy. We play video games. I play on my laptop and Jesse plays on his PS4. But I think mostly our electronics. I think I can survive with that and some clean socks. I’d be okay.

SO: What video games are you playing right now?

JC: I play World of Warcraft and Destiny, stuff like that.

SO: Nice! Do you play Diablo?

JC: I haven’t played Diablo recently, as I’ve been playing World of Warcraft. But I played the original Diablo a long time ago and played Starcraft 2, but WoW takes up too much of my time. I’ve only got a certain allotted time for video games in my life and WoW takes up more than it should.

SO: I understand.

JC: Yup. I’m a nerd.

SO: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. I am too. That’s why I asked.

JC: Yeah, we’re all pretty obsessed here. Matt’s more into old school games. And Jesse’s been playing a lot of Destiny lately.

SO: That’s cool. Sorry. Back on track. The last time Australian fans saw you was in 2013 when you were performing for the Soundwave festival. What can fans expect from your show now?

Motion City Soundtrack 2015

JC: Well you know, we’re gonna play the album. So there’s that. It’ll be fun. I think it’ll be fun. We’ll put on a cool show. We’ll have some cool t-shirts. We’ll hang out with you. Good times.

SO: How have you found Australian audiences compared to fans back home?

JC: They’re pretty great. I think Australia’s on par with ravage crazy people who like to crowd surf and have a good time. That’s what we like.

SO: When you and Justin formed the band in ‘97 did you think you’d still be together and making music 18 years later?

JC: No. I didn’t think that. I didn’t think about it. When we got to the 10 year mark I didn’t know what else we were gonna do, ever.

SO: How do you think Motion City Soundtrack has evolved since you first started?

JC: We’re constantly evolving in the way we write songs and what’s inspiring us at the time. We’ve learned how to deal with each other and get over personal differences whenever they happen. It’s just about making lasting relationships with each other that makes sense. And also balancing our family life. I mean, at the beginning of the band [forming] you don’t really balance your family life very well and it takes its toll on everybody. So we really gotta learn how to balance those two things.

SO: Where do you see yourself and the band in the next 10 years?

JC: We’re gonna make a lot of music. As far as a few years? I have no idea. We’ll see how it goes.

SO: So you’re still gonna be around?

JC: I hope so. But yeah, we have no idea. We don’t plan on not being around. But it just depends if people care. If people don’t care, we can’t make music. We’ll just go and make waffles instead.

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SO: Whilst your fans agree that Commit This To Memory is their favourite album, what would your favourite be?

JC: I love Commit This To Memory and I really like the new one, obviously, because we just made it. And I like bits and pieces from all of them. They’re all beautiful to me. Even If It Kills Me has some of my favourite songs on it. It might not be my favourite album, but it’s got some of my favourite songs. I mean, it’s tough. All my babies are beautiful.

SO: Motion City Soundtrack’s latest single ‘TKO’ came out last month and it’s gotten everyone psyched for your next album. Can you tell us a little about the new record and when we can expect the release to land?

JC: It’s gonna be out in September, I believe, in Australia. I‘m not sure, but I think it is. It’s a record we recorded mostly live. We tried to capture some rock and energy. We wanted it to feel like a band was playing together when we made it, and not ‘oh we’re going to record the drums by itself, and then we’re gonna add this and add that’. We wanted it to kinda have this messy, loud, and energetic vibe that playing everyone in a room with your headphones up real loud would feel.

SO: Is there any key differences between the new album and the rest of your back catalogue?

JC: I’d say it’s a mix of all our stuff, but leaning towards the My Dinosaur Life and Commit This To Memory vibe.

SO: Would like to add anything else about your current tour and upcoming album?

JC: You should check it out, and you should come to our shows and enjoy yourself.

SO: Alright, thanks for talking to me.

JC: Thanks for doing the interview. Have a good one.

Motion City Soundtrack are Commit This To Memory 10 Year Anniversary tour this month throughout Australia. Tour dates below:

Motion City Soundtrack 2015 Tour Poster

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