Since guitarist Josh Cain
and his bandmates in Motion City Soundtrack
made their way into the national music scene with 2003's I Am The Movie, life has been moving along at a lightening speed. In the past couple of years, MCS has found a cozy spot in Vans Warped Tour and worked with a producer whose name carries plenty of weight in today's music world - Mark Hoppus
of Blink 182. Even with Hoppus at the helm of the band's latest CD Commit This To Memory (a deluxe edition with bonus DVD was released on June 20, 2006), the band is open to the possibility of working with new producers for future releases. But for now, the band is currently on a whirlwind trip, playing at all the dates on Warped Tour rather than just a portion as in year's past. While the band is not quite ready to start recording another full album just yet, Cain has gotten the ball rolling by setting up shop in the back of his tour bus.
Ultimate Guitar: Congratulations on setting out on another adventure at this year's Vans Warped Tour. What does it mean when you're asked to play the Warped Tour?
I think it just like depends for a lot of people. It's so crazy and it's so many people. And it's the chance of someone walking by might like your band and come to watch. You know?
Do you find a big difference in playing Warped Tour in comparison to your headlining gigs?
Yeah, I mean it's very different. I mean, it's like you don't know when you're gonna play. You get up in the morning, someone tells you what time you have to play. It's just chaos. It's not as routine as normal. Every band plays the same amount of time. It's really just like it's a taste of all these different bands at once. It's just a totally different feeling than playing headlining shows, for sure.
You're playing all of the dates this year. Did you have the same schedule in the past?
The first year we only did three days. The next year we did about two weeks. The next year after that we did about half of it. The next year, last year, we did two-thirds of it.
Are there any bands this year that you're excited to watch?
|"It's just a totally different feeling than playing headlining shows, for sure."|
It's really cool to see bands like Helmet, NoFx, and Joan Jett, The Buzzcocks. All the years we've been out there, there hasn't been that many of these older rock bands. And then all those bands like Armor For Sleep, Moneen, and there's a bunch of bands on tour that are just rad bands. It's just fun to hang out with everybody and you get to watch a lot of bands. I probably check out 80 percent of the bands if I can.
Do you think watching the other bands tends to inspire you in some ways?
Yeah, for sure. You know, it's a matter of the band and a matter of my mood. But I definitely think that situation is possible - watching other bands I can get inspired to play different.
Let's talk about your record Commit This To Memory, which was produced by Mark Hoppus of Blink 182. Was the experience working Mark a lot different than your experience with Ed Rose (producer of I Am The Movie)?
Well this time around, I think we knew more than we did the first time or whatever. This time it was more like a relaxed thing. He was real positive to be around and kind of giving encouragement us in what we were doing. It was kind of like giving us little things here and there to help us out through the process.
Were the songs already written or did he Mark have a lot of input?
Yeah, basically we wrote all the songs. And then he came out through for a couple of weeks to help go over the songs. It would be like, "You can do a little more here. You could do less here.
" I wouldn't say he wrote anything at all. He'd take song parts we'd have, put together a song. He kind of gave us another opinion, you know, a sixth opinion on what we were doing and not just our own. It was a good thing. He'd always say like, "You're making my job easy. You guys write the songs you play.
And you recorded that album in a studio that used to be a house owned by the drummer of Toto?
|"We just try to develop the songwriting a little better this time around."|
Yeah, yeah. Jeff Porcaro. He used to own the house, you know, before he died (Porcaro died in 1992). Now it's turned into a studio called Seedy Underbelly.
What was it like recording in a studio that is somewhat in a residential area? How did the neighbors feel?
It was all right most of the time. We only ran into a couple of problems. We heard there could be problems. But it ended up working all right because we just worked out vocals after eight. And so that would cut down the volume because they wouldn't hear that. But it was all right. There was a pool and it was a nice environment.
What kinds of equipment did you use in recording Commit This To Memory?
We used a lot of stuff. I own a Vox hand wired set, which they made like 100 of them or something like that. So I use that a lot on the record with a lot of different Marshalls that we had. Justin chose a high-watt, 100-watt amp and he would mix that with all the Marshalls.
In achieving the sound you wanted, did you use new techniques or were they similar to how you achieved your sound on I Am The Movie?
For the first record, we recorded with our amps, which I had a Vox. He had a high-watt, which was basically the same thing. So we didn't blend them. This time around, we did a lot of blending. We mixed the two amplifiers together to get the sound. We did a lot of that.
What kind of equipment do you use on The Warped Tour?
We use actually - me and Justin both - we use AC30s. Yeah, Justin usually plays a Telecaster and I have Junior SGs (1965 Gibson SG Junior).
Regarding Commit This to Memory, people have described the sound as somewhat different from I Am The Movie. Some comparisons have been made to Jimmy Eat World. Did you go out aiming for a different sound this time?
|"If a song doesn't come spontaneous, then it's probably not a good song."|
I think that we weren't aiming for any specific sound or anything but our ability as songwriters. Just try to develop the songwriting a little better this time around. Honestly, Jimmy Eat World, Promise Ring, those were some of the influences in like the earlier Jimmy Eat World. You know, back when Static Prevails was out and earlier. That was band that, you know, kind of inspired me to play the type of music that Motion City Soundtrack kind of went down. As a side note to that, people say we're like this band called Superchunk that we like a lot. And some people say that we sound like the Get Up Kids as well. They're about the same age as us. And I think that a lot of our influences are the same influences as they have. Get Up Kids are really influenced by Super Chunk. We are really influenced by Super Chunk.
I don't have any problem being compared to Jimmy Eat World
. I think that they're a great band. So yeah, I don't know. I think something like that comes from having a lot of the same influences from our childhood.
Talk about how the band usually writes songs. Is there a process that you go through?
The way that it happens is very spontaneous. Usually it starts with something like an idea, like I'll have a guitar part that I made up at home. Or Justin will have a part of a song that he made up at home. Or Tony will have a drum beat that he really likes or whatever it is. And we'll come to practice and someone will start playing what they're doing. And usually what happens is that somebody will comes in and starts doing something. Justin will start immediately singing or not, and that usually helps songs get a beat. Tony adds a drum beat and I add a guitar part. If they match, then Justin will start singing immediately. It's really spontaneous. If a song doesn't come spontaneous, then it's probably not a good song.
Is it hard to recreate your studio sound when you play live?
I think we do a good job. We don't really try to over-record things either. There's usually not a guitar part that's not played that's on the record. So I really don't think we go too far overboard at this point. I don't know if that's gonna change in the future.
How long are you given to play at this year's Warped Tour?
With only 30 minutes to play, is it hard to pick which songs you're going to play?
|"Hopefully we'll be in the studio by mid-January at the latest."|
It's kind of heavy on the new, just because the record's been out for a long time. It's probably a little more aggressive and straight-up. It's kind of more like go, go, go! Just have fun and then it's over.
Are you writing songs for a new record on the road right now?
We're gonna start as soon as possible. Right now I'm trying to build a studio in our back lounge on our bus. We're going to Milwaukee tomorrow and we're gonna get all the gear we need to start recording in our back lounge. But I mean it will be real basic.
When would you ideally like to start recording in the studio?
It really all depends on how the fall shapes up. I mean, the idea was that we would be finished writing and recording before the end of the year. But you know, things always change. Hopefully we'll be in the studio by mid-January at the latest.
Will Mark Hoppus be producing your next record as well?
It's up in the air now. We haven't made any final decision. Mark
's definitely on the list and there's some other people we're talking to. It's really hard when you don't have songs written. We've never really had to approach producers. We kind of happened upon Mark. And we happened upon Ed Rose. So now it's different. We're gonna try to get some other people to do our record. It's not that we're not into Mark or we're not into Ed, it's the idea of kind of evolving. We'll see what happens.
|This intreview is one from our series of articles regarding this year's Vans Warped Tour (read review of the Pomona show; chat with Senses Fail members can be found at this location).
On July 18th we'll post here the next exclusive interview, this time with Vaux! Stay tuned.|