Interview By Tim Anderl | Photo by Dan Monick
Over two decades ago, songwriter and musician Justin Courtney Pierre cofounded Motion City Soundtrack. The Minneapolis band’s debut, I Am the Movie, hit the streets in 2003, and their commercial breakthrough, Commit This To Memory, followed hot on its heels in 2005. Committed road warriors and staples of the Warped Tour, Motion City Soundtrack released several more albums, including their last, 2015’s Panic Stations, which hit the Billboard Top 200 list.
Just when it seemed the band were poised for even greater heights, they announced a hiatus in 2016 and Pierre returned to Minnesota to concentrate on domestic life. Thankfully, his respite from creating music was short-lived.
“[My wife and I] came to an agreement. When I think of what fulfills me as a human being on planet Earth, I tend to go to art projects first,” Pierre says. “What fulfills my wife is the people closest to her. I feel kind of horrible to say that, but in talking about what next we discussed, [recording a new record], seeing if I could do it, how much money I was willing to throw in the garbage, she said, ‘This could go one of three ways: this could be a success,’ and we both laughed, ‘or it could be a one-and-done sort of thing to get this out of your system, or it could sustain itself in some way, shape, or form, maybe you get a day job and make a record every couple years.’ So, I decided to try to do something.’”
“That said, I really don’t want to be on the road the way Motion City was,” he adds. “If I could be on the road one or two months a year, that would be ideal. I want to be around my daughter and watch her grow up. From age 15 to 40, I feel like there was a lot of lost time. I made a lot of bad decisions and wasn’t really ‘there’ when I was there. So, I’m trying to find a different way of doing things.”
As a result, Pierre shares that he began therapy to help him learn to be present. He also began recording sporadically over the course of seven months, with Motion City Soundtrack guitarist Joshua Cain acting as producer. The resulting change in outlook on his personal life and solo album, In the Drink—due out via Epitaph Records on Oct. 12.—find Pierre at his most unfiltered and relatable. Embracing everything from anthemic pop to moodier material, Pierre played all the instruments on the album, with the exception of drums, which were laid down by David Jarnstrom of Gratitude and BNLX.
“I think I’m learning how to be in my skin, in the moment, aware. I’m excited to make more music, to go on tour, and to experience the best that I can in this form or this way,” Pierre admits. “I’m excited for the future regardless of what happens, whether [In the Drink] is a smashing success or a total failure or somewhere in between. I’m just excited for the possibility of it all.”