They've toured with his band. Worked with him in the studio (twice). They even revealed the title of their new record to him last year in Las Vegas. But the guys in
"We are definitely, as a band, trying to stay away from being 'over-Mark-Hoppus-ed,' " MCS guitarist Joshua Cain laughed. "Not that he's a bad guy — he's awesome, and everything he brings to our thing is amazing, and going on tour with Blink is obviously amazing, we would always do that thing — it's just that, you know, we want people to know that it's us doing this."
He's talking, of course, about the rather undue amount of attention most of the media seems to be focusing on Hoppus' production work on Motion City's brand-new (and really pretty excellent) My Dinosaur Life album, which hit stores Tuesday. Seems that every review mentions Hoppus' involvement in the project, despite the fact he's already produced a disc for the band (2005's Commit This to Memory) and despite the fact that Dinosaur is very clearly MCS' most-personal — and most realized — album to date.
"The great thing about Mark is that he lets us be us. He never comes in and is like, 'You've gotta sound like this.' He's not an overbearing producer. A lot of working with him is just being ourselves and letting things happen," Cain said. "And this record is the end result. We put every element of who we are on the record — from old-school influences to who we've become as musicians — and I felt like I was being myself and playing all my guitar parts on this record. And that wasn't always the case."
So in a lot of ways, Dinosaur is also Motion City's most ambitious album too. While not exactly a concept record ("Don't write that I'm calling it that," Cain laughed. "I'm not. I'm calling it a rock record, where a lot of things tie together"), there's certainly a central theme going on throughout: the idea of feeling out of place and out of touch, of feeling old and teetering on the verge of extinction — you know, sort of like a dinosaur.
"[Frontman] Justin [Pierre] came up with the title. It was some quote that he was saying all the time, and we all liked it, so he put it in the lyrics," Cain explained. "We liked the idea of it, because there are a lot of different meanings: being out of place, being old. We like that it has many meanings. But if you want to think that we're actually talking about a dinosaur, that's cool."
The thing is, Motion City Soundtrack have earned the right to make a record like this. They're practically elder statesmen of the so-called "scene" these days, and they've watched plenty of bands come and go over the course of their 12-plus years. So it's only natural that they'd feel like the last dinosaurs on the block. Or planet. Whatever. The point is, unlike the titular dinos, they don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon.
"The majority of bands we end up on tour with are, like, 10 years younger than us. And I was hanging out with Mike [Kennerty] from All-American Rejects recently, and we were talking about how we'd first met each other in 2002, when nobody knew who either of our bands were," MCS drummer Tony Thaxton said. "And now, obviously they've gone on to much bigger things than we have, but we both survived. It seemed like all the tours were, like, interchangeable. Everyone knew each other, and now, most of those bands we toured with are gone. But we're not. It's weird in a way, but it's also pretty amazing."