When I walked into the catering room to interview Joshua Crain, I really didn’t know what to expect. As noise from the food caterers and Panic! At the Disco doing their sound check filled the room, Crain commented that his favorite fast food chain is In-And-Out.
“I don’t eat meat, but they have really good grilled cheese sandwiches there,” he said.
Crain has been playing music since high school.
“I think around when I was like 15, I decided that I really wanted to play bass because of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I ended up playing guitar in the end. At that time, it was all about music. As soon as I had my bass, I immediately started playing in a band. We were terrible.”
He had a few idols while growing up to guide him from his first band to eventually making the music of Motion City Soundtrack.
“I liked everything from the early ’90s: Smashing Pumpkins, Fugazi, and a lot of indie rock. I thought they were all just amazing, huge artists. Now, I don’t think they were as big as I thought they were then.”
Crain describes his influences in another light, too.
“We steal from every one of them – huge, huge rip-offs of The Pixies. I mean, I don’t know if it shows up, but that’s what we’re thinking in our heads, like, oh this is totally stolen!”
The name Motion City Soundtrack has another short story of thievery behind it.
“My older brother made it up for something, and we just kinda stole it from him, and then we just thought it was a cool name. It just kinda has its own meaning, like if you want it to say something about any city you live in and you like, it just seems to fit.”
Crain seemed to be one of the lucky ones who worked hard and found that his dedication to music paid off.
“My parents have always been supportive in helping me along the way, but I don’t think they really wanted me to apply myself as hard as I did to music, until it started becoming successful, and they were like, well, it paid off.
“They would always say, ‘We wish you would apply yourself to school as much as you’re applying yourself to music.’”
If he weren’t a musician, Crain isn’t quite sure what he would be.
“It’s hard to say…I mean, I was a waiter, I’ve been going to school for art and design and stuff, but I don’t know what I’d be.”
His favorite place to play is his hometown, Minneapolis – even though that wasn’t always the case. “There are lots of places that are awesome and fun to play, but it’s always great to play home,” he said. “There’s a little weirdness because you’re playing in front of people you know, but it’s just so reassuring to come home and play in front of so many people and have them actually really like your band.
“It took so long to get Minneapolis behind us because we basically had to leave Minneapolis to go everywhere else, and to get everyone else to like us before Minneapolis would even come around. And then we play huge shows like the Warped Tour, and I liked playing it and I hated it at the same time because it’s hot, it’s gross, and it’s long.”
The band isn’t quite sure what the future will hold, but they have a contract with Epitaph for one more album.
After their next CD, the future is more open.
“I don’t think there’s any plans,” he said. “I think everybody in our band, especially Justin [Pierre (singer)], are very motivated people who do a lot of things in their lives, and they want to do a lot of different things. So I don’t know what this band will become in the long run, though I don’t think it’s just going to disband or something. We’ll just take it as it goes.
“If there’s a scale of things that you have to accomplish to be successful, then for me, I need this band for a certain level of success just to satisfy my own needs as a human to get by. Beyond the enjoyment of recording our own music, we want to make it to where we can live off of it ’cause it’d be amazing to do that, and we’re getting there.
“It’s still a long road, and you need to be rather successful to actually live off your band longer than the time that you’re actually in the band. So I think our goal now is to just do whatever creative stuff we want to.”