Musicheads Essential Artist: Motion City Soundtrack

Motion City Soundtrack
Motion City Soundtrack's gear in The Current studio, 2015. (Leah Garaas/MPR)
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Musicheads Essential Artist: Motion City Soundtrack
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April is Minnesota Music Month. To celebrate, each weekday this month we'll be spotlighting a different artist with special coverage on air and online. For Wednesday, April 29, we're shining a light on Motion City Soundtrack.

Minneapolis pop punk band Motion City Soundtrack have spent decades crafting irresistible, emotionally charged rock anthems.

Motion City Soundtrack were formed in 1997 by the lead singer and songwriter Justin Pierre and guitarist Joshua Cain, and spent their early years touring and independently releasing 7-inches and EPs in an attempt to break out of Minneapolis. They sold copies of their first album, the 2003 release I Am the Movie, inside vintage floppy discs out of the back of their tour van.

Motion City got their big break in 2003 when they signed to Epitaph Records, which led to a tour with Blink-182 and a chance to work on their second album, Commit This to Memory, with Blink-182's bassist, Mark Hoppus. The album was a hit, in part because of Justin Pierre's deeply personal, honest lyrics about seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and dealing with anxiety.

Though they often got lumped in with the emo bands they would share stages with on Warped Tour festivals in the early 2000s, their songs had depth and the band knew they were in it for the long haul and eager to continue evolving their sound.

Over the years, Motion City Soundtrack have had the opportunity to collaborate with some incredible producers, including Ric Ocasek of the Cars and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, who both contributed to the sessions for their 2007 release Even if it Kills Me. And over time they've also won over the music critics who used to deride them. In 2010, after signing a multi-album deal with Columbia Records, they released their best-selling album, My Dinosaur Life, to critical acclaim. The album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200.

Even as the band's success has brought them around the world, Motion City Soundtrack have remained rooted in Minneapolis. Although the band announced they were breaking up in 2016, they still continue to reunite and perform — including at a run of sold-out shows at the brand-new Fillmore Minneapolis in early 2020.


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