Motion City Soundtrack, enjoying widespread success in over fourteen countries, recently co-headlined the Nintendo Fusion Tour. The experience is hard for them to grasp but they seem down-to-earth and quite grounded. They joke around backstage, laugh at jokes, and have a bit of trouble realizing how far they have come – it’s been a dream for so long it was hard not to imagine it being realized. With the release of their new album, Commit this to Memory, it has been proven that this band can only get better and continue to wow the music scene.
How did the band form?
Josh: It was a long and arduous process. Basically Justin and I had known each other when we were younger. We had played in bands and shows together and such. After we were done with high school and a bit of college I sought him out and we started a band together. And through the process we met some members who didn’t work out, but we met Tony and really wanted him in the band. Him and Matt joined the band at the point and then Jesse. And then we made this band – about four years.
Tony: Yeah, that’s right. Almost four years.
What are the largest obstacles you have faced as a band?
Josh: Just dealing with being gone so much and trying to live on no money. And trying to stay in good spirits about everything. It’s really hard to be working really hard at something and getting basically no return from it. Until the shows started getting better we had nothing to look forward to. We were playing shows and no one knew who we were.
Tony: And you hope that there’s even going to be people at those shows. Because no one knows who you are and chances are about half the time you’re playing with a band that no one knows who they are either. So it’s like what reason do they have to come to the show.
Josh: But then things shifted and started working out and it’s been awesome. That was probably the biggest obstacle other than our own personal demons. Things that as you grow up and start not being home we all have to deal with things in our lives. That’s one of the hardest things to deal with when you’re in a band – everyday crap when you’re never home.
What has been your biggest musical achievement thus far?
Tony: I think, I don’t know. The fact that we recorded our second record maybe?
Josh: Yeah. I mean there’s a lot of cool things that we’ve done. But I think that that would classify as our biggest musical achievement.
Tony: I think everything is kind of…it’s gone beyond what any of us ever really expected it to. Our albums have sold more than we expected. We played on Conan O’Brian – that was a big highlight for all of us. I don’t know. It’s just being able to do this and not work day jobs. To survive off of this was our goal. Everything else is just a nice bonus kind of.
What has music meant to you?
Josh: I think for me it’s been everything in my life. I’ve tried so hard at times in my life to not do anything music related. Go to college for art and design and it always leads back to it. So it is everything in my life.
Tony: It’s a huge part of my life. Same way – if I’m not playing it, I’m thinking about it. It’s something I’ve always been around and something that I’ve always wanted to be a part of.
What’s the basis for the band’s name?
Josh: It was just something that someone else had made up. We took it and used it and it was something that I felt was unique. We really didn’t have any other god options. It’s the hardest thing, coming up with a band name, honestly. Unless you had some brilliant idea before you started the band. It just came out of a mess of trying to find a name and we thought it stood out as something different from the rest. It sounded bigger than we really were – at the time we were nobody. It sounded more official than anything we had done before.
Could you describe the songwriting process?
Tony: There’s no real set process usually. Sometime Justin might be working on something at home by himself and shows us to us. We’ll jump in and throw our two cents in – “that’s cool” or “it needs this here instead.” One of us out of nowhere might start playing something and then the rest of us join in. It’s totally random.
Josh: I think we’re constantly trying to reevaluate how we write songs. We may be trying something so hard, trying to force it and it’s not working. But then I’ll think of something from when I was 15 and people will like that better and we’ll start playing with that. It’s really that someone plays something and if Tony starts playing then we run with it. And some songs work really well that way and then some songs like “When You’re Around” Justin had written at home and we put in our own unique parts.
Tony: The key is not to try o drag it in the ground. If you force it, it won’t work. Some songs, not to sound cheesy, but some songs literally almost write themselves.
Josh: Some songs we’ve come up with are horrible and I never want to play them again. But, on the other hand, some songs are amazing, but you just can’t get them finished and polished.
What’s your most memorable moment as a band?
Tony: For me, the one thing keeps standing out and it was pretty recent, the Chicago warped Tour show this year. It was my favorite show ever - so many people showed up, sang along, and went crazy the whole time.
Josh: Yeah that was a pretty crazy show.
How do you feel about “Commit this to Memory”?
Josh: I feel good. Like as a band you always over criticize yourself, but we as a band think this is a great stepping stone. I think, in my mind, we can do better. So I think we will do better on our next record. I think that we left things out of this record that we will be able to bring to our next record.
What’s your favorite track off the record?
Josh: I’d think we’d have to agree that it’s “Hold Me Down”. It was the most different and for me, as a guitar player, it was the most rudimentary song I had ever written. There was a D chord and then I just added this thing. I played it and then Tony played this awesome drum beat to it. It was just something so long in the making so it means a lot.
Tony: I wasn’t really sold on it right away – but then it ended up being my favorite song.
What was it like working with Mark Hoppus?
Josh: Everybody’s seen him on TV. You know how he acts – just being around a goofy, witty, fun guy when you’re recording was both entertaining and serious when it needed to be.
Tony: When it was time to work – he was serious and was chill when it was laidback. He knew how to lighten up a mood if things were tense. He’s a rad guy – it was an awesome experience and now it’s rad to have him as a friend.
Any last comments?
Josh: I’m bad at the last comments.
Tony: Should we call Matt and see if he has any last comments?
Josh: Yeah – let’s do it. (laughs) Oh that’s perfect.
Tony: I like to do interviews with Matt because the last comment thing is always hard. None of us have final comments. We like to throw it at Matt – so we’ll call him. Sometime he barely talks so we make him talk.
Josh (calling Matt): He’s going to be so mad – if he answers. (on phone) Hey Matt – what are you doing? We’re doing an interview in here and we got to the final comments and we wanted to know if you had anything to say. So do you have any final comments?
Matt (on phone): HAHAHAHA! Very funny. That’s my comment.