Three albums into its recording career, Minneapolis' Motion City Soundtrack is happy with the progress its making -- and particularly with its decision four years ago to sign with the independent Epitaph Records imprint rather than any of the several major labels that were also pursuing the quintet.
"We were scared of (the majors), basically," says keyboardist Jesse Johnson, 30. "It was kind of weird place to be in, making your first record under a major label, knowing if that goes sour that's basically the end of everything.
"So we took less money and what have you, and went with Epitaph. Everybody that works there, they're like friends of ours. We can hang out with them in L.A.. A lot of them are people who have been in bands, too, so they understand where we're at totally."
Being with a smaller company hasn't necessarily minimized MCS' opportunities, either. The group was even able to have its newly released third album, "Even If It Kills Me," produced by a pair of proven hitmakers -- Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and the Cars' Ric Ocasek.
"We never really worked with a producer who helped guide you through the record before," Johnson says. "We usually just went in, recorded our songs and that was it. This time we wanted to pick somebody who could bring out more of the pop side of what we did.
"Rick and Adam seemed like a good mix of people to do that. It was an intentional thing; we wanted to work with songwriters -- people who played in bands and actually write songs instead of someone who was more theoretical. They're fairly different from each other, but getting both of their viewpoints was really interesting, and good for us."
Motion City Soundtrack, Mae and Anberlin perform at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 21) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are $22.50. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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