Song of the Week II: Motion City Soundtrack’s ‘Her Words Destroyed My Planet’Each week A&E reporter Matthew R. Perrine not-so-subtly suggests a song you should know by heart. PLUS: A "reprint" of Perrine's feature on Motion City Soundtrack's Matt Taylor, who was a member of Submerge before joining the popular Twin Cities-based group.
Each week I not-so-subtly suggest a song you should know by heart. For this very special sophomore edition, I have chosen “Her Words Destroyed My Planet,” an explosive, impossible-to-resist track off Motion City Soundtrack’s latest, “My Dinosaur Life.” (Though, admittedly, it was tough to decide which track to select off the album — which debuted in the top 15 of the Billboard 200 when it was released in January and earned an “A+” in Entertainment Weekly, by the way — as it’s enjoyable from start to finish.)
One very good reason you should familiarize yourself with this instant classic is that the group will be returning to Duluth next month. The group’s tour-kickoff show, which will be held at Grandma’s Sports Garden on April 6, will also feature performances by fun. (the exciting successor to the Format), A Rocket to the Moon and the features-the-talents-of-hometown-boys Sing It Loud. (Visit www.motioncitysoundtrack.com for ticket information.)
And, while I have you here, check out this “reprint” of my feature on Motion City’s bassist, Matt Taylor, which appeared in the Budgeteer one of the last times the group visited the Zenith City. For your reading pleasure, I humbly present “Road Warriors Motion City Soundtrack Back in Town Already”:
Motion City Soundtrack is a weird band.
Not in the sense that its music is too arty or experimental to be appreciated by the masses — its infectious brand of Moog-infused pop punk has proven quite popular, thank you very much — but in the sense that, while the quintet may have formed in Minneapolis, only two of its members actually call the Twin Cities home.
“We’re all over the place,” explained bassist Matthew Taylor in a phone interview last week. “Josh (Cain) and Justin (Pierre) still live in Minneapolis, Jesse (Johnson) lives in Brooklyn now, I live in Richmond, Virginia, and Tony (Thaxton) lives in north Hollywood, L.A.”
The reason for a lot of this is that Taylor and Thaxton actually got their start in Submerge (which quietly won over a fanbase in its native Virginia before its January 2001 demise). Had it not been for their old band sharing a bill with an early incarnation of MCS — in Milton, Pa., of all places — and the two outfits becoming friends, chances are this story this story would’ve looked a lot different.
See, as fate had it, Thaxton was asked to join MCS in January 2002 after the departure of the group’s third drummer (as you can probably already tell, lineup changes were a common MCS fixture until ’02).
Soon enough, Taylor joined his former Submerge bandmate in MCS — not that it was an invitation he was expecting or anything, though.
“I was totally surprised,” he said. “Tony had been in Motion City for about six months … and I was just at home working. I decided, I’m gonna save some money, I’m gonna buy a car, kind of move on — and I’ll keep playing music at home, but very casually. So after a couple years of just working, I kind of went crazy, like, I need to be playing music. Tony came home for a break one time in the spring of ’02. We were hanging out and he was talking about a little bit of trouble with one of the members, and I was like, ‘Oh, man, if I was offered that position, I would take it in a heartbeat.’ And he was like, ‘Really, I thought you were going to work?’ ‘Well, I was.’ At that point, I just went in the next day and told my boss, ‘I gotta go.’ The whole two-weeks notice thing really didn’t work out. [Laughs]”
How’s that for good fortune? Taylor goes from working an office temp job — which he described as “just horrible” — to joining a band that would soon become breakout stars for punk powerhouse Epitaph Records, which MCS signed with in early 2003 for the re-release of its debut album, “I Am the Movie.”
But it was also somewhat of a leap of faith for Taylor. He said he didn’t have any idea MCS would get as big as it has (the group’s third album, 2007’s “Even If It Kills Me,” peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the independent albums chart).
“Obviously I’d been in Submerge and we’d worked hard, done tours on our own — didn’t have a record label — so we’d done the hard work, and I knew what it entailed and I liked it … but Motion City happened to be getting some label attention and calls from people, they were about to hire a lawyer, they had just hired management,” Taylor said. “It was like, This is a good step up for me. I did the legwork in the other band, I know what that’s all about, but now I realized they were a little more serious and they were really going to try and pursue it. So that’s why I did it; if it was just another band that was unsure, that was just going to play regional shows and still work their jobs, I wasn’t going to do it. But everyone was pretty much willing to let go, rack up some credit card debt, lose their jobs … I decided to hop on.”
The glamour is contagious
Taylor’s current journal post on Motion City Soundtrack’s Web site is proof that, no matter how successful your band is or how many magazine covers you’ve graced, life on the road will always be hell. In an episode dubbed “Help Me, Rhonda,” he describes having dinner at a place called “Mex and the City” and choking down the world’s worst burrito (“It had a full chicken bone in it. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t on the menu.”) and, of course, having his flight home cancelled.
“I do like (life on the road); it’s just funny when you get to that two, three month point of being gone and … you get a little delirious,” Taylor said. “And then, of course, to top it off, the icing on the cake is that my flight gets cancelled. The one flight on the board that’s cancelled is mine.
“… I considered leaving and going to a hotel, but the only two that had rooms were Days Inn and Comfort Inn, which are not nice hotels — not that I need something nice, but they wanted 200 bucks a night for a piece of crap room. So, out of principle, out of sheer punk rock principle, I slept in the terminal. [Laughs] It’s good for stories, and now I’m glad it happened … it was an adventure.”
Despite (mis)adventures like those, at least Taylor gets to have fun onstage with MCS.
“There’s nothing too complicated going on,” he said. “My main goal is, and always has been, to lock in with Tony and kind of be that glue, I guess [Snickers], between the guitars and the drums. It’s definitely fun. It’s fairly high-energy stuff, so I can just kind of let loose and run around a little bit and do that kind of thing.”
The bassist said he really enjoys playing “Last Night,” which is on the group’s latest album.
“That one’s a challenge for me, because I have to do some backups in that song,” Taylor said. “I have to play this pattern that at first was really hard for me. I literally had to practice it in my room for hours — just loop the song — and I finally got comfortable with it.
“I really like playing that one, it’s just kind of a different feel for us — almost reminds me of a Motown type of groove, and I enjoy that stuff.”