When Blink-182 singer/guitarist Mark Hoppus mentioned to tourmates Motion City Soundtrack that he was interested in producing their second album, the Minneapolis rockers thought it nothing more than backstage banter. But on the last night of Blink's European tour, Motion decided to take him up on it.
"He was hanging out in our dressing room -- I think he liked to hide there from press -- and he was like, 'Yeah, sure, what the hell,'" lead singer and guitarist Justin Pierre says. "Which I think was very brave of him because he hadn't heard any of our new stuff. For all he knew, we could've written thirteen country classics."
Recorded in Los Angeles, Commit This to Memory, out this week, maintains the rabid guitars and punchy drums of the band's 2003 debut, I Am the Movie. The four members -- Pierre, guitarist Joshua Cain, bassist Matthew Taylor, keyboardist Jesse Johnson and drummer Tony Thaxton -- share the writing duties. "It usually starts with two large German chocolate cakes and a bottle of Jack Daniels," Pierre jokes.
Formed in 1999 by former high school buddies Pierre and Cain, Motion City Soundtrack combined the emo flourishes of Jimmy Eat World with the lyrical tongue-in-cheek of Alkaline Trio for I Am the Movie. "We decided to write happy songs instead of eight-minute sad songs," Pierre says. "But everything I write still seems to be dark or funny in a really horrible way."
In that vein are Commit This to Memory's "Lgfuad" ("Let's Get Fucked Up and Die"), "Hold Me Down" and "Time Turned Fragile," sung from the perspective of Pierre's father. "I try to do this whole Tom Waits or Ben Folds thing where I try to sing from somebody else's point of view," he says.
Motion City Soundtrack will get a chance to air the new material this summer with a stint on the Warped Tour. Although the exposure will be welcome, the band has already reached its goal. "We got to play at First Avenue [music club] in Minneapolis, and we sold it out," Pierre says. "All I could think about was Prince, the Replacements, the Jayhawks and all the great bands from there. If this record fails and that's it, I'm happy."
8/15: Northampton, MA, Three County Fairgrounds
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