Sixteen-year veterans of the music scene, Minnesota’s Motion City Soundtrack are arguably one of the success stories of modern day pop-punk (love it or hate it.) With an unapologetic adolescent approach to lyricism common to the genre, MCS has emerged as one of the more consistent and beloved bands of the neo-punk movement. Their fifth studio album, “Go,” was released last year to respectable reviews, quite the feat after having set the bar so high with “My Dinosaur Life” two years prior.
So what does the future look like for this Saddest Girl/Slide Coaster hybrid? I sat down with Matt Taylor and incoming drummer Claudio Rivera (of Saves the Day) along their Uniondale, New York Warped tour stop to find out. Click here to read the interview.
Dying Scene (Deb): How is the new lineup going so far for you guys?
Matt: I would say it’s going great.
Claudio: Very seamless transition.
Is it weird having to hop right out onto the road while you’re still gelling?
Matt: I think for a lot of people, it would be, but for us, it has not been. We have a history with Claudio. The guys have known him forever.
Claudio: Yeah, since ’98.
Matt: And I met you like ten years ago.
Claudio: We’ve been gelling for almost a decade.
Matt: He’s worked with us for awhile, so we know what he’s like as a person.
And he knows the songs.
Matt: Right. We know every little thing.
And you’re blackmailing him.
Matt: Absolutely. Wait, what?
A lot of your songs deal with nerdier topics – do you ever want to distance yourself a little bit (to Claudio: not you as much,) that maybe not feeling the way you used to feel at the time they were written?
Claudio: Not really.
Matt: There’s nothing wrong with being nerdy!
Not at all!
Matt: And really, how do you define nerdy, like you’re really into something?
How do I define it? I don’t get to sit at the cool kids’ table – you probably do.
Matt: No, we don’t! I don’t know: we sing about what we know – that’s the key to being real, just talk about what you know.
I think that’s actually what the fans relate to the most, I think they love that about you guys.
Matt: I think you’re absolutely right.
You appeared on “Yo Gabba Gabba” – what was that experience like?
Matt: It was ridiculous!
Was it fun?
Matt: It was really fun. We were playing a show that day, so we had to soundcheck, then go right to “Yo Gabba Gabba” in this huge arena, then wind up on this little platform about ten feet long and four feet deep. We were right next to each other, so we couldn’t see it each other. We had this tiny little drumkit to play. Then they pushed us out through this giant wall and DJ Lance was like “Hey, here’s my friends” and you’re like “Hi, everybody!” You know, you have to play it up for the kids.
Did you really have to work hard to make your song into a kids’ song?
Matt: We did, we had to literally change every lyric to “Everything is Alright.”
So you’re willing to tone yourselves down for a kids’ production?
Matt: Yeah, we’ll do it for the kids – that’s about it, though.
What do you feel sets you apart from the other artists in your genre?
Matt: I don’t know, I don’t want to sound like a weird, jaded old…
Matt: Yeah, but we are not scared to be who we are. Like I said, we sing about what we know. Yes, we’re nerds, whatever – there are other nerds out there who get it. I think a lot of bands are really worried about looking cool. I just think sometimes people try too hard.
Well, you know, I hate to come right and say it, but pop-punk became a joke for awhile. How do you keep it fresh?
Claudio: Just be ourselves.
Matt: That’s it.
People who show up here in mohawks are maybe trying too hard to fit in?
Matt: I mean, it’s working for a lot of people – whatever works for you. If I showed up covered in tattoos one day after ten years of being this guy, it might be a little weird.
Is there a follow-up to “Go” maybe cooking?
Claudio: And it’s cooking.
Cool! Cooking with gas?
Claudio: Oh yeah.
So once you get off the road, are you going to hop into a studio?
Matt: Well, we hope so. We have so many songs and we’re basically just putting the finishing touches on some of them.
Are you going to bust them out at all?
Matt: We’re playing one on the tour, a brand new one – it’s going over pretty well.
Claudio: We want to get it out there.
Is that going to be the new single?
Matt: Yeah, we’re going to put it out digitally.
Claudio: Before we even have the album.
A lot of your peers have done away with the synth sound – do you ever feel pressure to do the same?
Matt: No. It’s a whole other world that we have.
Claudio: They (miming piano fingers) are very finicky.
Matt: They can be moody. It’s a weapon for us, you know? It’s like another guitar – that’s what we do as well. It gives us a whole other thing to work with. They make the melody bigger, that’s why we have it.
You guys actually recently played at Nassau Community College. How is a show like that compared to a festival?
Matt: Obviously, here you’ve got people who are here to see other bands and may not have heard of you.
Does that make you have to try harder?
Matt: I don’t know, I mean, at a college, it’s a free show, and kids are going to show up just because it’s free to check you out, so you’ve got to bring it there too.
The best and worst things about playing a festival?
Claudio: Worst would be that (points up at the sun.)
Matt: That, right there (follows suit.)
That goddamned ball of fire! Okay, and the best?
Claudio: The kids.
Matt: Definitely the kids.
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