Show by show, Motion City Soundtrack builds a following

For big-name bands, touring simply fuels burgeoning album sales and lines already deep pockets. For smaller acts, hitting the road means spreading their names and staying afloat.

It's also a way of life.

Motion City Soundtrack, based in Minneapolis, falls into the second group. A band that spends a good portion of the year hitting the pavement, MCS slowly has been building a name around the country and abroad (they recently returned from a tour of the United Kingdom and Holland). Despite the temptation of "hitting it big," band members said they are more interested in building a solid, loyal fan base.

Here's a look at a band that continues to work and play hard to become a name on "sincere" fans' lips everywhere:

Band Members: Joshua Cain (guitar, backing vocals), Tony Thaxton (drums, percussion), Justin Pierre (vocals, guitar, piano), Jesse Johnson (Moog keyboards, bells) and Matthew Taylor (bass, backing

vocals, piano)

Sounds like: Emo-tinged, punk-pop with a dash of indie-rock experimentation.

Current Album: Their debut album, "I Am the Movie," was released this year on Epitaph Records.

Standout Tracks: "The Future Freaks Me Out," "My Favorite Accident," "Shiver"

MCS Cliff Notes: The band recorded its first 7-inch in 1999 and subsequently went through a number of lineup changes. While Cain and Pierre (founding members) were on a tour in 2000, they encountered Thaxton and Taylor and recruited them for MCS's final roster. Temporarily transplanting to Kansas, the band worked with Ed Rose (Get Up Kids, The Anniversary) to produce the debut album, before eventually getting signed to a major label, Epitaph.

Cain on the importance of touring: "We got back from Europe last night, so it's been 16 hours of being awake," the guitarist said with a laugh during a recent phone interview from his home in Minneapolis. "It's a lot of fun, but I'm looking forward to the break.

"A band like ours works really hard. We can't count on getting played on the radio or our videos getting play. The only thing we can trust is playing shows. We can't expect to win the lottery. We can't count on others helping us. "

On song-writing: "Everyone writes their parts," Cain said, explaining that Pierre writes most of the lyrics, but the songs are a group effort. "It has to be spontaneous ... Sometimes we don't understand each other, but we never get too caught up."

On on-stage antics: "Jesse is still doing handstands on his keyboard -- three or four (times) a show. He's hit his face on the keyboards ... There's always some tripping and falling on stage. When you act like idiots on stage, that's the risk."

On the big picture: "Our main goal is to keep playing shows and keep getting a core audience. To keep getting sincere fans. I'd rather stay at the level where we're at, than have a bunch of people like us just because someone else does or told them to. We'd like to build it slow."

By Tricia Woolfenden
The Grand Rapids Press

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