Motion City Soundtrack keeps busy

By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 27, 2005

When one sees a band with success on MTV and the misfortune of being lumped into the squeamish category of pop-punk, one assumes they can usually pinpoint the influences. This is not quite true with Motion City Soundtrack, whose bizarre, but catchy sound hints at diverse influences - something drummer Tony Thaxton acknowledges.

"Kind of as a whole, this band's sound comes from bands like The Pixies, Superchunk, Get Up Kids, The Rentals and things like Fugazi to Ben Folds," Thaxton said. "There are a lot of different things going on."

Indeed, Motion City Soundtrack utilizes all the traditional instruments of punk (guitar, bass, drums) with the instrument that made Weezer's "Tired of Sex" so damn cool, the moog. On their debut record I Am the Movie, Motion City Soundtrack ran through 14 tracks at breakneck speed while the moog furiously kept pace on bouncy classics like "The Future Freaks Me Out" and "My Favorite Accident."

That album and its subsequent videos led the band to minor success and its chance to record its sophomore album, Commit This to Memory, with Blink-182's Mark Hoppus.

"It was great," Thaxton said. "He's been a rad guy to us. He came into it as a fan of ours, which was pretty crazy to us and he was like, 'I'm a fan of you guys, and I want this to be a good record as much as you're fans do because I am one.'"

Hoppus' interest was sincere and he avoided slipping into the roll of dictator during the recording of Commit This to Memory.

"He was like, 'My thing is I'm just going to be there to oversee the whole thing and not really step on any toes, and just kind of stand back and let you guys do your thing and throw in my two cents in here and there,'" Thaxton said. "He knew exactly what he wanted, what kind of sounds he wanted for what kind of songs. At the same time if we weren't so into the idea he was suggesting he was totally into us telling him, 'That sucks,' or saying 'OK, that's fine.' He's like, 'It's your record in the end.'"

The result was another record of infectious pop, punk and rock tunes. If listeners note a bit more cohesion on Commit This to Memory than I Am the Movie, there is a reason.

"This time was the first time that the entire record was written by the five of us together," Thaxton said. "All of us played on (I Am the Movie), but a lot of those songs had been written for years and years, and some of them were written before all of us were in the band."

Plus, with the backing of a big name like Hoppus this time around, the budget was also sufficiently larger, which made the recording smoother.

"It was also the first time we had a lot more time and money to go in and feel like we were making a real record this time, whereas I Am the Movie was recorded in little segments here and there and eventually pieced together," Thaxton said.

Following the release and mounting success of Commit This to Memory, Motion City Soundtrack did not rest on their laurels - touring incessantly - including soaking in this summer's Vans Warped Tour.

"It was our forth year doing it and this was the longest we've ever done it, so it went really well," Thaxton said. "It's always been good for us, and it's always done amazing things for us. This year was the most fun we've had on it yet. The crowds just got pretty crazy this year, and they just got bigger and bigger as the summer went on."

From the Vans Warped Tour the band hopped onto the Nintendo Fusion Tour when good friends Fall Out Boy asked them along. Both bands are now basking in their relatively newfound success.

"Fall Out Boy just asked us if we would come on the tour," Thaxton said. "We've been friends with them for a while now. We played some shows together years ago, before anyone knew who either one of us were. We played shows to like 20 people or something like that, so it's pretty crazy now to see a band you played with for like 20 people playing sold-out shows to like 7,000 people some nights."

They can expect more of the same as they play a sold-out show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Saturday night as part of the Nintendo Fusion Tour. The all-ages show starts at 6:30 p.m. with The Starting Line, Boys Night Out, Panic at the Disco and Motion City Soundtrack opening for Fall Out Boy.