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ISSUE 120 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/29/2006

Fall concert preview: A closer look at Motion City Soundtrack

By Ian Anderson
Executive Editor

Friday, September 29, 2006

It's really hard to write a great pop song. I'm talking MTV-TRL-VH1-Behind-the-Music good. Motion City Soundtrack (MCS) has captured this ability as well as the attention of every major media export in the country, but their record Commit This To Memory (Epitaph) is still considered a "Sleeper Hit" by most. Their songs are infectious, poppy and undeniably accessible for, well, everyone. Not only are they a great band, but get this, they're from Minneapolis ñ a great choice for Fall Concert.

Motion City Soundtrack is Joshua Cain (guitar), Tony Thaxton (drums), Justin Pierre (vocals and guitar), Jesse Johnson (moog) and Mathew Taylor (bass); five stylish young men from the Minneapolis area who are as cute as buttons and just as well-rounded. Formed in 1999 when Cain casually asked Pierre (both High School students at the time) if he would be interested in working together, they rapidly realized that they had something special ñ and so did Epitaph Records who put out MCS's first record I Am The Movie in 2003.

After the release, MCS toured obsessively (so much that they no longer seemed like a local band) and even toured with Blink-182 in Europe and Japan. While en route, they bewitched a certain Mark Hoppus (bass player from Blink-182) who asked to produce their follow-up album. The pairing was just what the band needed. Commit This To Memory was pristinely polished, precise and meticulous in its attention to detail. MCS clearly took their time making the album and it paid off.

The album was a complete success selling over 200,000 copies and garnered many awards and kudos from media world-wide. Songs off the record have been featured in the "Sound of Superman CD" and the "John Tucker Must Die" soundtrack, not to mention that they played on the Late Show with Conan O'Brien and the Late Late Show with Jimmy Kimmel last fall. Rolling Stone Magazine described their sound as "Pogo-inspiring emo guitar meets Moog synth, giving the songs an Eighties teen-movie vibe" and Spin Magazine featured them as "Band of the Month" in June. To be entirely honest, Rolling Stone isn't far off, but their review doesn't take into account the stark honesty and authenticity of the band. Believe it or not, they're writing great music that is extraordinarily popular and happens to be completely from the heart.

But in lieu of their vast accomplishments, Pierre still keeps things in perspective. "[It's amazing] that I can afford to pay rent and buy toys because I play guitar and sing is the most mind-blowing thing that ever was," Pierre said. "Live television is too unnerving to appreciate while it's happening and I wish I were more clever when doing interviews but the things you mentioned are sweet as well."

Commit This To Memory is one pop-punk hit after pop-punk hit. It drips both precision and a big budget squeaky clean with enthusiasm and positive energy. Granted, these traits are often perceived as inherent in the cookie-cutter world of the pop-punk industry, but the record carries itself with a bit more dignity and depth than a passerby would expect. Commit This To Memory stands up over time and over heavy rotation. The songs are catchy, smart and can carry even the lamest of dorm-room parties. Plus, Pierre spits a non-stop flow of refreshingly clever lyrics that, although push the limits, never quite go over-the-top.

MCS just got back from touring Europe with OK Go and are looking forward to being home for a while before heading out again with All-American Rejects in November and December. But Pierre even keeps his tour antics to a minimum.

"Most of my exciting tour moments revolve around a new movie trailer posted on or a book I'm reading," Pierre said. "I still don't get out much or join in any reindeer games."

And in terms of another album, "We plan to write the rest of the next record in October and November," Pierre said. "I plan to relax as much as possible when not writing and finally move into the new place I've had since March."

For those of you who are debating simply skipping Fall Concert because you haven't heard of MCS, don't. It will be a great show, hands down. You haven't heard of them yet because they have been working from the ground up (like real bands should).

"Hopefully it will be an extravaganza that will top even David Copperfield's greatest efforts," Pierre said. "That's usually how we gauge things."

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