For pop-rockers Motion City Soundtrack, 2010 has been—and will continue to be—a busy and successful year. The band released their fourth album, My Dinosaur Life, in January and followed up with performances at Bamboozle and the first half of Warped Tour. OurStage’s Jay Schneider caught up with vocalist Justin Pierre to talk about recording with Mark Hoppus, pushing the boundaries of pop rock and Motion City’s post-Warped Tour plans.
OS: So how’s the Warped Tour going for you guys?
JP: So far so good. We’re on the homestretch for us. We have six more shows including today and then we’re done. Just half of the tour.
OS: Some bands, after being on tour for so long, get excited to wear a t-shirt or something they haven’t seen in months when they finally get home. Are there any plans like that for you?
JP: Not necessarily the t-shirt, but I tend to keep myself very busy by doing many different projects. So I have like two weeks worth of projects that I’ve got planned, and we’ll see if I pull them off. They may involve a video shoot, some recording of stuff, some movie things and some hangout sessions with some friends.
OS: Yeah, that’s always good.
JP: Yeah, maybe some Red Dead Redemption. I just started playing it before I came out on tour, so I think I’ve forgotten how to do all the things. I can’t really ride a horse very well.
OS: I’m sure it’ll come back to you. It’s just like riding a bike.
JP: Actually it’s not like riding a bike, because I was in Japan a few years ago riding a bike for the first time in 10 years, and I fell off and totally sliced up my arm. So whoever said “It’s just like riding a bike” is full of shit.
OS: You just released a new album this year. It was produced by Mark Hoppus. What was that studio environment like?
Motion City mastermind Justin Pierre at Warped Tour
JP: It was pretty relaxed. This time we used his studio—the one he and Travis own and run. It was very interesting because, they had Blink rehearsals for their tour. So it was a very weird schedule. We were shuffling around between the main studio and the “B” studio. I don’t know. It was really relaxed more than anything—very easy. I think that’s what’s great about Mark. He just creates an environment in which you totally feel comfortable. As opposed to some people, who shall remain nameless…not “people” but “person”…Anyway, it’s a long story. There’re other experiences where it’s more stressful, where things are just chaotic. Mark’s good at keeping it relaxed.
OS: It seems, for the new album, that you were pushing the boundaries a little in terms of your sound—maybe a little bit heavier than some previous releases. Was this a conscious effort?
JP: I think the only thing we were aware of was that we wanted it to be more of a “rock” record, as opposed to a “pop” record. I feel like the last record we did was very pop-oriented, and for this one, we wanted to just put a little more energy in. I feel like it was a success in that regard.
There’s a song called “Pulp Fiction” which is totally the brainchild of our bass player Matt Taylor. He tends to write these songs with just like keyboards and drumbeats. It started out as an electronic song. He sent it to me while I was actually in Japan, when I had the bike incident. It was so fun and easy for me to write lyrics, I wrote the entire first verse and chorus within minutes and sent it back. We ended up turning it into a real song, as opposed to an electronic/techno thing, where it started. So I would say that that was different. I think another one, like “Disappear” is very dark and a lot more aggressive. So, yeah I would say that that is a fair assessment.
OS: During Warped Tour and shows in general, it seems that you guys in particular like to mingle and hang out with the people who came out to the show- before/after the set, like at the merch booth for example. Why is that?
JP: I think when we do our tours, it’s really easy. It just kind of makes sense to go hang out with people. It’s only like 30 minutes or an hour out of your day. When we do longer tours, I tend to lose my voice, so I usually don’t talk. But on Warped Tour I’m talking all the time. My voice actually is going right now. It’s kind of on its last legs this week. Hopefully, it’ll hold together. I like actually talking and hanging out with people, and I don’t really get to do it that much. I guess that’s why—for selfish reasons. Most of the time I spend in my bunk, I spend it reading or watching X-files or something, and not talking with people. When I’m around people I tend to not stop. I just keep going and then I lose my voice.
Motion City Soundtrack are performing at the Leeds and Reading Festivals this year in the UK as well as Bumbershoot in Seattle, WA in addition to their own fall tour.
8/26-The Underworld, London, UK
8/28- Leeds Festival,Wetherby, UK
8/29- Reading Festival, Reading, UK
9/5- Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle, WA
10/14- Soma, San Diego, CA
10/15- Avalon, Los Angeles, CA
10/16- House of Blues, Anaheim, CA
10/17-The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
10/20- Portland, OR, Crystal Ballroom
10/22- Salt Lake City, UT, Avalon