Heading down to the Mod Club on November 13th to see Motion City Soundtrack for the first time all felt really surreal. It hit me, after years of loving their music; I was finally going to see them.
Looking around, everyone was singing as loud as they possibly could as we all buzzed along with everything Justin sang- everyone came together and felt pretty invincible. That’s something Motion City Soundtrack’s music has always been able to do, it without a doubt makes you feel like a badass who can overcome absolutely anything.
A moment to really love though had to be in the opening song Attractive Today, as Justin sang “say it’s true, say you like me”. The crowd sang backing vocals by replying “I like you!” and then Justin cheekily said back “thank you!” It was the little details and crowd involvement like that which really made for a memorable night.
I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much at a concert simply because of how long this band has been in my life. And you could feel among the crowd that many others were feeling the same sense of joy. The band’s setlist was awesome; the crowd got to hear some of Motion City Soundtrack’s latest material off their incredible, new album Go. Along with this they played quite a few of my personal favourites. They played True Romance off Go, which was another hit of the night. It took over the whole venue with its energy and melodious vocals which filled the room.
Months back when I bought tickets for the show I looked at the band’s setlist and Perfect Teeth was sadly nowhere to be found. Midway through their set though, guess what song they played. Did you guess Perfect Teeth? If you did, you’re right! And they rocked the hell out of it as people took it upon themselves to sing “someday I fear I will be rescued from the boredom line!” with the band. Honestly, one of the best concert surprises I’ve ever experienced.
After the concert, all of the band members came out to say hello to all of their fans. It was ridiculous being able to meet them and let them know how influential and outstanding their music is! And before Motion City Soundtrack’s concert, I had the dream opportunity of speaking to their bassist Matthew Taylor. He took the time to talk to me on the phone about live shows, Go, and also favourite Motion City Soundtrack songs and moments! So check out this new interview with Motion City Soundtrack!
AMBY: I’d like to start off by telling you Go is a terrific album!
MT: Thank you!
AMBY: You’re welcome. Now, how do you think the band has progressed since the last record?
MT: I think, you know, if you’ve been listened to our albums over the years you can hear a slight, I guess willingness to experiment a little, and I think on Go we were definitely left hindered by our own insecurities and as far as sound goes we went in and we wrote songs and some of them sounded good on acoustic so we did it that way. It’s just a left insecure album which came in a time of our lives in our career as a band where we didn’t have a label, and we didn’t want to stop and wait for a label, and we felt this new momentum. So we just wrote songs and recorded with our own money and made our own arrangements and everything ourselves, and then we had Go finished and then we could say, “this is exactly what you’re getting” to whatever label.
AMBY: Well the new album is fantastic so whatever you did on your own worked! So which three tracks would you say are the quintessential Motion City Soundtrack?
MT: Oh that is so hard! I mean, I’m going to go with my gut instinct here. I think Everything Is Alright; energy-wise, lyrically, it pretty much sums up where Justin is coming from. Another one is L.G. FUAD from the same album which is another very heavy song lyrically but it’s also a tongue and cheek song obviously. I just think that kind of represents what we’ve done overall pretty well and third one… Uhmm, drawing a blank here. I don’t know, you say the third one!
AMBY: The third one?!
MT: What do you think is the third one?
AMBY: Oh, I’d have to probably put True Romance out there. It’s a song that has a lot of your older elements, but I find there’s a new sound or twist to it, but it still carries your energy and the cheeky lyrics- it’s still Motion City, so I’d have to say that track.
MT: Cool, yeah I like that one too.
AMBY: There we go!
MT: Yeah why not? Team work.
AMBY: Well next question, what would you say are some of your favourite Motion City Soundtrack lyrics? And this is not restricted to any number!
MT: You know there’s a line that always sticks out to me and it’s a song we don’t play very much live. “They say that what doesn’t kill us makes us who we are.” And I tend to forget that line, but the other day I was thinking about it and thought that’s a really, a good moment. I enjoy that moment.
AMBY: Yeah, it’s a really nice line. Well moving on from really good lyrics, let’s go to albums. Which albums would you say have changed your life?
MT: I would have to say Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles. I was in eighth grade when I got that album for Christmas and the summer before that was the first time I really listened to it. I can’t say I understood it, I think that’s what I liked about it. It actually scared me because I was used to the old, 1963 and ’64 Beatles that my parents would listen to, and then I heard I Am the Walrus and it like really hit me on the head and I realized they were doing really cool stuff before anyone else was doing it.
AMBY: Yes, Go Beatles!
MT: So Magical Mystery Tour, I mean the whole Beatles catalogue but that one specifically changed me. And then I think of ninth grade when a friend played me Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Chili Peppers and that obviously, when you’re a young kid you pick up the bass for the first time and you hear that album and think “okay.” It kind of put bass on the map for me so to speak, I don’t necessarily try to imitate and play like Flea because I can’t because he’s so good but I’ve never heard anything like it. It was just a weird world, where I didn’t know where to put it but it kind of freaked me out in a good way. And third I would say Radiohead OK Computer. It kind of made me re-think everything I’d heard up to that point. That was a big transition for music in general. Like a modern rock band and in that moment in time everyone kind of reevaluated what they were doing with guitars and even basslines, like that was a huge influence on me at the time.
AMBY: Completely, well-
MT: Woah! Chili Peppers just came on in this bar, during this interview! Amazing.
AMBY: That’s pretty coincidental!
MT: Yeah, so crazy.
AMBY: Well next would be how would you define success for yourselves as a band?
MT: Well from the get-go I joined in 2002, a little over ten years ago. First of all just signing to a label and actually putting out a record and having it be distributed all over the world- that was like the first bar for me. It’s kind of what I had dreamt of ever since I was in high school and started playing in bands. And then you know, goal two was to have people singing along to my songs or our band’s songs. So right off the bat there were two things that happened immediately. I don’t know, I think we just wanted to be able to go in a vehicle and travel the world and play music and we’ve still doing it over ten years later and we’re able to support ourselves and just live life and as a very average person. We’re able to actually focus on music as a career which I think is- we’re really lucky to do that.
AMBY: Yeah, to do something you absolutely love.
MT: Yeah, exactly!
AMBY: And you guys are on tour right now, so what are some things you do for fun while on the road?
MT: Well, it depends on the city. With technology and iPhones you can look up anything in any city you are. It’s pretty much what most of us do; we wake up in the morning and in a new city every day so I pull out my phone, hit the maps program and I just kind of search around the area. And I’ll be honest; I look for a Starbucks which is usually the first thing I do for after when I’m awake and ready to go. Just depends if there’s movie theatres, if there’s a cool local establishment, you know, we’re kind of food nerds. We like to sample the local fare whenever possible, or if there’s nothing around some of us have Xbox’s in our bunks, so we’ll just kind of lay there and be total slobs and play video games.
AMBY: Nothing like some good food or gaming!
MT: Helps with the day, it really does.
AMBY: And your live shows sound fantastic, I’m extremely looking forward to tomorrow’s show in Toronto! So what would you say is one of your favourite songs to play live?
MT: I’m really enjoying playing The Coma Kid from the new album. It’s still really fresh to the point where I’m a little bit concerned I’m going to screw it up. I kind of like that element of “I don’t know what’s gonna happen”. But it’s a different tempo, almost more of a hip-hop kind of tempo and groove to it.
AMBY: Definitely, that’s a killer track.
MT: Yeah, bop your head to it a little bit.
AMBY: And speaking of live shows, what would you say is the most memorable moment you’ve had on tour?
MT: I’d have to say that we’re always surprised that it’s usually shows you don’t expect to have this incredible thing happen and that end up being the most memorable. I always remember this moment, I think it was 2005, we were on Warped Tour and we got the hated last spot of the evening, not on the main stage, it was after My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy and we were just breaking at that time. And we ended up playing in the amphitheater and we thought it would be empty, and it was like ten o’clock and it was full. I mean, I don’t even know how many people there was but it was full. And all the bands came and watched us and gathered around and there’s a huge crowd on the stage too and there was something inexplicable and magical in that moment. Definitely a top moment just because we kind of had the underdog attitude and ended up feeling like the champion.
AMBY: Sounds like a really great experience!
MT: Yeah, it was in Chicago too I believe. Was just awesome.
AMBY: So now moving away from your own music and albums, I have a different question for you! What albums are you most embarrassed to own?
MT: Oh man, I have hundreds of those.
AMBY: Those guilty pleasures!
MT: Yeah, well my wife and I share a collection and she’s got some really bad stuff- don’t tell her I said that! But I own, hmmm… That’s really hard. I’m not really embarrassed of anything because if I buy something, I like it for some reason and you know, you kind of have to own that.
AMBY: For sure! Since we were just talking about how you love everything you buy and the bands you listen to, are there any bands you’d recommend our readers to check out?
MT: Definitely! There’s a band called Mansions out of Seattle, and they’re kind of at the top of my list right now. The songs are really catchy and they have this element of sheer noise; just noisy guitars and it’s almost unsettling yet gorgeous music! I really like what they do and they’re great people.
AMBY: Well we’ll definitely have to check them out!
MT: Yeah, please do. They’re awesome. There’s another band out of Chicago called Any Kind who I’m completely in love with their album too. It’s free on their website anykind.net, that’s where I got it. And I love it to death so you should check that out too.
AMBY: Alright, thanks for the suggestions! So far out of the year, which song would you say is the best song?
MT: Song of 2012, you are just asking the tough questions!
AMBY: Whoops, sorry!
MT: No, no, it’s not a problem. 2012, that’s this year right?
AMBY: Yes, it is!
MT: Okay, let’s see. I don’t know.
AMBY: How about a song you can’t get enough of?
MT: I’m trying to think because when we go on tour I don’t listen to much music since I’m surrounded by music every night. I don’t know and I don’t know the title to that Any Kind record since I like the songs on there.
AMBY: Well that works! And for our last question, what’s something about Motion City Soundtrack that nobody knows yet?
MT: I feel like everyone knows everything about us now with the internet. I think, well I don’t know this might actually already be out there but I know I was surprised to find out that Justin was a dancer as a kid. He was on a dance team.
MT: Yeah, in Minnesota.
AMBY: Ah see, I didn’t know that!
MT: It’s kind of surprising but at the same time it’s not. He’s also a hockey kid. I was a baseball kid and then music happened and sports just disappeared from the radar.
AMBY: That makes sense!
MT: I think that could be a big surprise from before, because people may look at me and not think sports, so!