Motion City Soundtrack : Joshua Cain, Justin Pierre
They are the movie . . .

Motion City Soundtrack are one of the hardest working bands around at the moment. It seems as though they've been consistently touring for the last few years - they thrive on live performances and it wears you out just looking at the tour schedule. The only time they've taken a break is to record I Am The Movie after signing to Epitaph Records. With the album successfully wrapped up and doing well, they've hit the road again with fellow tourmates Limbeck and The All-American Rejects.
    The tour is going so well that several of the venues have been upgraded to accommodate growing demand; tonight's show in Leeds has been moved from The Cockpit to the Leeds Met. This may explain why Justin Pierre (vocals/guitar) and Joshua Cain (guitar/backing vocals) are buzzing with energy. Both come bounding through the emergency exit, Justin clinging to a polystyrene cup of tea, Joshua with a beanie hat, both stating that this is warm weather compared to the climate they're used to. Joshua states that in their hometown of Minneapolis it would be snowing!
    The interview takes place outside, away from the bustle of the backstage area. An ambulance rushes past and a ticket tout looms in the shadows like Fagan. Welcome to Leeds.

counterculture: When did the music become serious to you, from being a side project to waking up and thinking 'this is it'?

Motion City Soundtrack - Click to enlargeJoshua Cain: In high school I was playing music in 9th grade, but in 11th and 12th grade I started not paying attention to anything else, and for three years I played, played, played as hard as I could - then stopped for about two years, went back to work for a while and then went to college. During the two years at college I started a band with some friends in another band that were doing well.
    Our name was bigger than we were. We weren't anybody but people knew who we were, but that band broke up right away and then I sought him out [nods to Justin] cause I knew him from high school and I wanted him to sing in a band with me. From day one I was pretty adamant that this is what we're doing, there's no way out of it.

At this point in the Motion City timeline of fate, Justin was working in a video store. He has an iconic look with one of the most distinguishing hairstyles in rock complemented with cool glasses. He also has a slightly reserved element to him - the saying still waters run deep could have been made with Justin Pierre in mind. If you mention films, Justin ignites with gusto. The band may be his life now but film was surely his first love.

Justin Pierre: I wanted to make movies and I wanted to play music. I wanted to make movies more than I wanted to play music and then the band started doing better and better and better, then I thought holy shit; I can make money doing music - fuck movies!

JC: I had a conversation with him at one point that was like 'I know you wanna make movies but this [the music] is actually working and you're not going to get that chance again. If you're given those kind of chances you've gotta run with it.

JP: Joshua said look at all these people who're listening to us - we're actually doing something here.

JC: Everything we've been trying to become with the band we actually became, and all of a sudden we were gonna get a record deal.

cc: You all seem to have a diverse range of influences, from Elvis Costello, The Pixies, 80s music, dance music and Ben Folds. I Am The Movie has a distinctly unified and identifiable style. Was there ever any conflict between you when making this record?

Motion City Soundtrack - Click to enlargeJC: Huge conflict! [nods to Justin] He could be 'I like this cause it's crazy' and I'm like, 'I don't like it cause it's not', but I want it to go here cause then it's going to be somewhat more enjoyable to listen to and it's cool and I respect that cos it's cool. There's a game you have to play when you play music, write movies or books where you have to write for your audience . . . it's a trade off; you can't always be doing something really cool at the same time.

cc: What's the significance of the pink bunny in the video for My Favorite Accident?

JP: It's like on MTV or many other channels, when you see a band rockin' out and then there's a boy and girl havin' dinner and that's basically our way of makin' fun of that, and ourselves.

cc: What film would like to write a soundtrack for?

JC: I'd love to be a part of the Fight Club soundtrack.

JP: I'd like to write music for a Hal Hartley film, Jim Jarmusch film, or a Terry Gilliam film.

Considering they're due to go on stage in under an hour, they're both remarkably calm. There's a sense that music is such a natural element to their DNA; there are no nerves or doubts in their minds. I ask Joshua how much preparation goes into the gig; whether he psyches himself up for the performance with some good old fashioned transcendental meditation or some kind of hypnosis. He turns to me and claims, "No way, we just go on and do it!"

cc: According to the new single, the future freaks you out. How much truth is in this?

JC: I'm more interested in what the future's going to be. You always have what it could be and what it couldn't be.

JP: A lot of it's written from the point of view of someone else - a lot of people live in the past.

cc: How happy are you now, on a scale of 1-100%?

Motion City Soundtrack - Click to enlargeJC: It's a situation of what you wanna achieve and what you can achieve changes all the time. If you look at it from the perspective of how it was a year and a half ago, I'm 100% happy now.

JP: I'd say the same thing; when you're biggest problems are that you're tired of sitting in a van for four hours driving through the UK to play shows for 2000 kids, shut the fuck up. I've got to say that I've got the best fucking job. It's a lot of work; I'd rather be doing nothing else.

:: Paul Newbold

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