Justin Courtney Pierre didn’t have much of an idea of what he wanted to do when Motion City Soundtrack called it quits during September of 2016. “I didn’t have plans to do much of anything other than figure out what I was gonna do with the rest of my life,” he tells Billboard.
But after going through “kind of an identity crisis,” during which he gained 25 pounds, went to therapy and spent time hanging out with his infant daughter, Pierre is back. His new solo album, In The Drink, comes out Oct. 12; The first video, for the title track, premieres exclusively below.
“It just kind of happened,” Pierre says of the set, which was produced by his MCS bandmate Joshua Cain. “At the end of the day I didn’t know what else to do other than write music. I think I flirted with the idea of become an accountant, but then my wife told me that’s not a reality. That’s work. And she was right…And I had been kicking around the idea of doing something like this for a while, anyway. I had just never pulled the trigger.”
Enlisting Cain, meanwhile, was a natural move. “In Motion City Soundtrack I always sort of provided the guitar parts and the melody and I’d send them off to Josh and the rest of the band,” Pierre recalls. He did start to develop his skills on GarageBand and Logic, but enlisting Cain was a natural step. “I’ve been working with him for years and he’s been doing more producing and he’s really good at it. Pierre explains. “I said, ‘Why don’t you produce it? It’s kind of like we’re doing something together, but this time I call all the shots at the end of the day,’ and he liked that idea.” In The Drink was recorded in fits and starts over about seven months as schedules and their respective responsibilities to “dad-dom” allowed. That also gave Pierre time to develop his musical acumen, as he plays every instrument on the album except for drums, which were provided by David Jarnstrom (Gratitude, BNLX), some trumpet and backing vocals.
“Each step along in doing this I went on to the next step and didn’t think too far ahead,” Pierre notes. “Post-MCS I just really wanted to focus on the art, so I built a team of people around me that I can utilize for all the other stuff — the production, the business. What’s nice about this is I don’t have to ask anybody for permission or get four people to agree on whatever we’re doing. I can just do my ideas whether they’re stupid or not, for better or for worse. I thought, ‘OK, so if this is the only record I ever do, great. I’m just gonna do it exactly the way I want it.'”
Among those plans is a series of videos for songs on the album, starting with In The Drink‘s title track — a French New Wave cinema-influenced clip that combines elements of horror, suspense and chase amidst tight shots that leave some mystery about what exactly is going on. Future videos will be related, but “on a subconscious level, very loose and very ethereal,” according to Pierre. “I think these characters will show up in another video in a totally different way. There’ll be elements that are gonna poke their heads in throughout all the videos.”
Pierre is currently putting together a band and is planning to tour during the fall to promote In The Drink. MCS, meanwhile, remains apart — and peacefully so, according to Pierre. “Our only plan was that we didn’t want to tour at least for awhile, and there was a sense of relief to that,” he says. “With us all starting to have kids we wanted to spend more time with our families and less time on the road. Everybody else is doing that, but my plan backfired; I sort of accidentally wrote a record. Oops. Now I’m doing this again….”