Motion City Soundtrack performs Wednesday at High Dive


The rock band Motion City Soundtrack, with singer/guitarist Justin Pierre, center, will perform Wednesday at High Dive.

Courtesy of Anthony Saint James
Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 1:22 p.m.

If you want an idea of what downloading has done to album sales, Motion City Soundtrack can serve as exhibit A. The group commonly headlines large clubs — a level of success that is as big as many acts ever reach.

Facts

Motion City Soundtrack, Relient K

What: Rock bands perform on co-headlining tour
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Where: High Dive, 210 SW Second Ave.
Tickets: $20 advance, $23 day of show
Info: 872-5949; Ticketweb.com

After releasing its first three albums on indie label Epitaph Records, Motion City Soundtrack signed to major label Columbia Records before returning to Epitaph for its current CD, “Go,” which was released in June 2012.

“I think in 2005, we had sold a certain number of physical records, and in 2005 we were on Epitaph, and in 2010 we sold on Columbia, we sold one-sixth of that,” singer/guitarist Justin Pierre said in a phone interview. “And it was deemed a success as far as what's going on in the world and how many people are actually buying records.”

That's a sobering reality for any band. But don't get the idea from that observation that Pierre is unhappy about where Motion City Soundtrack's career stands. The group does well as a live draw — and Pierre seems to have accepted the reality that a lot of music fans simply have decided that they don't need to pay for recorded music.

And that's OK with Pierre because Motion City Soundtrack is showing that a band playing clubs can still be financially viable even if record sales have almost disappeared.

“I think in terms of how our record (“Go”) is doing, compared to the numbers of 2005, it's not doing nearly that,” Pierre said. “But compared to what other people are doing in this day and age that are of comparable size, we're doing great. The other thing is we're so fortunate the people come out and see us live.”

What Pierre is seeing is that Motion City Soundtrack shows draw far larger crowds than its record sales would suggest.

“We'll sell out shows,” he said, “These people are singing along, They know the music. They have the music. They just don't necessarily — I shouldn't say 'they' as in all people — but I think a great number of people, they get the music any way that they can. I don't mean to say that in a negative way.”

Pierre also isn't complaining about Motion City Soundtrack's experience with Columbia Records. In the end, as Pierre explained, the band just didn't sell enough copies of its Columbia CD, 2010's “My Dinosaur Life,” to fit the needs of the label.

Stability and familiarity were factors in the band's decision to return to Epitaph.

“We'd always stayed in touch with (Epitaph owner) Brett (Gurewitz) and Epitaph, and he's just been a huge help to me personally as a friend and a mentor,” Pierre said.

With “Go,” Pierre and his bandmates — Joshua Cain (guitar), Matt Taylor (bass), Jesse Johnson (keyboards and Claudio Rivera (drums) — gave Epitaph an album that has the usual virtues of a Motion City Soundtrack record. It's filled with songs that nicely blend catchy pop melodies with honest energy.

The latest album is perhaps a bit less punky and frenetic than the early Motion City Soundtrack albums, but that's not necessarily a sign that the band's sound is changing.

“There are some other songs that we recorded or songs that we didn't record that are a lot faster and more frenetic and crazy and punk rock. But they just didn't seem to fit with the guts of what this album was to us,” Pierre said, also making the point that the band has never viewed itself as punk or pop-punk, even though the group has frequently been labeled as such.

The continuity of the band's music should be apparent on tour this fall, as Pierre said the shows will include material from all five albums. But fans can expect set lists to vary from city to city.

“We usually every night try to mix it up. We have a few songs that we tend to close with, but we try to put in a few deep cuts each night,” he said. “Typically if we have made a music video for the song, there's a good chance we're going to play it already, but songs that are a little more weird, I guess we pull them out every now and again.”

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