Don't Call It a Documentary: Motion City Soundtrack Make a Movie

Check out some footage from 'I Am The Movie: The Movie.'

May 12 2014, 6:00pm

This week, Motion City Soundtrack are releasing the video documentary I Am The Movie: The Movie. Except, as frontman Justin Pierre explains during this interview, it isn't really a documentary. The good news is that it's something way cooler. Essentially, the film consists of home footage of the band's early days that they gave to a friend/fan who put it all together. Oh, and we should also mention that like the original version the band self-released before it was put out by Epitaph, I Am The Movie: The Movie is coming out digitally and on a limited edition DVD packaged inside a floppy disc, the latter of which was sort of ironic back then and so retro that maybe it's cool again now. We don't know anymore.

Noisey: So you have a DVD coming out, huh?
Justin Pierre:
Yeah, well, that's one way to put it. [Laughs.]

So how did it come together?
Last year we celebrated the ten-year anniversary of I Am The Movie so we really wanted to do something cool. We had hours of footage from the early 2000s to 2004, maybe, that had been shot on video cameras and I gave all the tapes to a friend of ours named Melissa Kraemer who is a fan as well and said, "Hey, can you look through the stuff and find what you would want to see?" She was into the idea so she uploaded all the footage which took endless hours or days and sorted through it and I would check in every once in a while. I wanted it to not be five guys on camera talking about things, so there's none of that. There's literally just footage of us from that era running amuck and a lot of it sounds terrible but it's just really real. I let her run wild and said I wouldn't censor anything and if she put embarrassing things in there I promised I wouldn't take them out.

You've struggled with alcoholism in the past and I'm sure it was in full force during those years. Was any of this footage hard for you to watch?
I was really good about censoring myself when we were filming things or at least hiding from the camera. I noticed there were scenes where I was totally wasted but I don't know if people would be able to tell because I also overcompensated for my drunkness by being super hyper. There's definitely one scene that's awkward for me to watch but Melissa liked it and thought it was important to be there so I let her keep it in even though it makes me cringe. There's a segment for each song [on I Am The Movie] and I like that each one is different. It's very chaotic and I feel like you can watch each part on its own or together, you don't need to watch it in any sort of order. It's just really a snapshot of a moment in time and how dumb we are. Mostly, I think you walk away from it going, "These guys are idiots and it must be magic, I don't know how they got anything done."

Why did now feel like the right time to do this?
We literally started doing this before Warped Tour last year and with us things often take way longer than they should, so now for the first time, we're trying to plan our lives way in advance. I don't know whose idea it was in the first place. Usually, an idea will occur, someone will say it's the anniversary of this record and I'll go, "Oh that's a special number, maybe we should do something" and then I'll remember that we have all this footage we should put out. It was really as simple as that. In conjunction to the DVD, we're in the process of remaining all the songs on I Am The Movie and they go from totally simple to totally bonkers and bizarre, but we're going to do two nights at McNally Smith College Of Music and play that album in an acoustic fashion for people.

Speaking of I Am The Movie, didn't you release the original version of the album yourselves inside of an actual floppy disc?
Yeah, we went in with Ed Rose and I think we recorded twelve songs and put it out ourselves; I believe it was [keyboardist] Jesse [Johnson] or [guitarist] Josh [Cain's] idea to take a floppy disc, cut it open, pull out the inside, put the CD in, and put a sticker on it and that's how we sold them originally. I feel like we sold 3,000 records which is a lot for us being nobodies—and then when Epitaph bought the record we went in to do a triple split with Reggie And The Full Effect and Ultimate Fakebook, that split never came out so we put the songs we recorded for the split on the record and that was "Perfect Teeth," "Autographs And Apologies," and "Modern Chemistry" and took off "1000 Paper Cranes" because Epitaph wanted a B-side. Ultimately, that became the 14-song I Am The Movie.

Did you stuff the floppy discs yourselves?
Yes, although I didn't do a single one and [my bandmates] still talk about it. From what I hear, it was a ton of work and people hurt themselves a lot: They had bruised wrists and hands and cuts. We had some sort of Anvil case and an X-Acto box cutter and would slice them open and pull them out and stuff it in. I didn't do a single one, I'm very proud of that fact.

Way to be a team player.
Yup. I had other things to do like get drunk and fall down. [Laughs.]

So, ultimately what do you think makes this documentary stand out?
Honestly, I don't think it does stand out and I don't even know if I would call it a documentary. It's literally a bunch of stuff we shot over the years, gave it to a fan and she said, "This is what I wanted to see ten years ago" and I think that's what I like most about it. If people don't like it—not to blame her because it's all about us—but it's just really fun to say, "You make something from this stuff that we have" and at no time are we sitting down being interviewed. It's just moments in time from sitting in the van punching each other to trying to make a couple of music videos to people not showing up for shows. It's just weird random stuff, it's more of a time capsule than anything else.

I Am The Movie: The Movie is out tomorrow on DVD. Order it here.