Motion City Soundtrack are fans of the Minnesota Goodbye: long, bittersweet, and making sure you connect with everyone before heading out the door.
In the months following their March breakup announcement, the band — one of the most successful Minnesota rock bands ever — will trek across the U.S., then head over to Europe, Australia, and Japan. Like the Replacements before them, Motion City Soundtrack will play their last gig in Chicago.
MCS frontman Justin Pierre gets a breather from touring this week. He's at home in Minneapolis with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. Come Friday, his group will begin their goodbyes to Minnesota with “four fucking [sold-out] shows," as Pierre puts it, then apologizing for the language, at the Varsity Theater.
Pierre is charismatically long-winded when fielding questions about his band's breakup. Far removed from the cataclysmic in-fighting that destroys some groups, Motion City Soundtrack’s decision to end things was mellow.
“We all hit the same wall at the same place and at the same time," Pierre says. "There were different reasons, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think it was time for us to not tour, and that was the only decision we’ve made: we’re not touring. We haven’t really talked about what that means beyond that.”
Does that mean the potential for more studio albums, a possible follow-up to Panic Stations, MCS's sixth and (possibly) final album from last fall ?
"It’s wide open and could possibly never happen, but we’re focusing on one thing at a time," Pierre, 40, says. "I’m trying to live in the moment, and I’m trying to have an experience every night and be there. It’s hard for me, because I’m not the greatest guitar player and my mind is always racing.”
With these last shows — which will include original drummer Tony Thaxton, who left the band in 2012 — Pierre is working to move outside of his headspace. He's says he's less concerned about hitting the right notes, and remembering lyrics doesn't feel as important as in the past. It's all part of embracing his newfound philosophy of living in the moment.
“It’s kind of sad and beautiful that only just now am I learning this. I think maybe having this kid had something to do with it," Pierre says. "I hate the feeling of looking forward to the time she goes to sleep, so I can have time to do stuff. I should be happy just doing stuff with her and being there.”
As the final Motion City Soundtrack show draws closer, Pierre says the reality of his 19-year-old band's breakup is becoming more visceral.
“It's hard to think that we’re not gonna play another show in Seattle again. We’re done — that’s it," he says. "It’s too much to think about, but as we get nearer, I know for sure in Minneapolis we’ll probably be a weepy mess, being the hometown and all. I can’t think about what the future is."
Cue one of Motion City's trademark jams from back in 2002:
As creative outlets go, Pierre says he's always felt most comfortable away from the stage. Perhaps that’s why MCS fans connect with him in such a profound way through lyrics about self-doubt, anxiety, and mental illness. He's the awkward introvert that found a way to express himself to the world.
Awkwardness aside, Pierre loves to talk when approached by fans. But, due to temperamental vocal chords, he says he has to save his voice for performances. To allow others into his world, he found an outlet via social media.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself through our fans. It’s mindblowing how many people have told us that our music has helped them in one way or another over the years, but that was never our intention," Pierre says. "It’s a wonderful coincidence. Hopefully we brought a moment of reprieve to people. Life is complicated and tricky and hard. Our music is a break for whatever is going on.”
Being stationed in Minneapolis will allow Pierre to be a dad and husband, trading tour busses for lawmowers. But Pierre, who dropped his first solo track in February, stresses the importance of maintaining a relationship with music, whether through basement recordings or more formal releases. For now, however, he's focusing on being present in the final moments of Motion City Soundtrack.
“Time has moved so fast with this band. It’s weird to think that I’ve been playing music with [MCS keyboardist] Josh for over 19 years, and I’ve known him for 23 years – I’ve known him for more than half of my life," Pierre muses. "Time speeds up exponentially — now more than ever, and that is making me appreciate the present even more. That’s what I’ve landed on with this tour.”
Motion City Soundtrack's So Long, Farewell Tour
With: Have Mercy, Light Years.
When: 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., June 24-25 & Mon.-Tue., June 27-28.
Where: Varsity Theater.
Tickets: Sold out; more info here.