Interview with acoustic-rockers First Class Motive

First Class Motive

I stumbled across First Class Motive, a little two-piece acoustic act, a few months ago while aimlessly browsing MySpace. I was intrigued by the fact that they were predominantly acoustic, which instantly made me think of Dashboard Confessional, and listened to every song on their MySpace. I searched every P2P service I could think of looking for any and all songs I could find. Without any luck (their album just came out on iTunes March 24) I stuck with MySpace Music’s handy pop-up player and kept it up on my desktop for two weeks. I’d like to let their music speak for itself, so in short, First Class Motive brings the attitude back to pop/punk (think Say Anything meets Sum 41 with acoustic guitars). Their clever lyrics and energetic licks are so genuine it hurts, and the duo’s raw vocals only add to the intensity. The contrast of the vocal and lric, with the rhythm of two acoustic guitars is what really sets this band apart from the rest. There hasn’t been an acoustic rock act like First Class Motive since Dashboard hit the scene almost ten years ago, so I immediately thought of the duo for May’s feature. Luckily Michael Newkirk and Ryan Baird had a few free moments to answer some questions last week, and even more to my delight, they had some really amazing things to say. Based on their answers alone, it’s clear they’re incredibly passionate about what they’ve created with First Class Motive, and it’s exciting to find a band that’s not trying so desperately to be part of “the scene.” Instead Mike and Ryan are two guys from Indianapolis just keepin’ it real, and telling their stories; bashing the high school politics of emo/punk music and setting the record straight for everyone to hear.

I would suggest listening to some music while you read the interview below. Go to to preview their entire album (all you indie bands out there should really take a note from these guys) and you’ll really get a feel for what they’re all about. Bottom line, these guys are believable, authentic, and honest–three things that are desperately missing from indie-rock scenes everywhere. What I’ve found in Fist Class Motive is rare, and it should be celebrated! So make sure you check out their MySpace and go download their entire album, Disasterpiece on iTunes today. Until then, enjoy the information below, and check back next month for another feature from today’s hottest up and coming bands.

MP: How did First Class Motive come to be?

FCM: I (Michael) was actually in a few screamo/metal bands and wanted to try something kinda different. I kinda surrounded myself with superficial people in a superficial scene. I got tired of playing music that everyone has heard before, cause honestly, it’s hard to make metal sound different. I grew up as a pop-punk kid, so I knew what I wanted to do should have elements of that. I looked at some acoustic acts out there, and saw they went more with the “I lost my girl, life sucks” route, and I wanted to do something fun. I started writing, and things sort of fell into place. I posted 2 songs on a new Myspace page, and people responded really well. Shortly after, Ryan heard the music and liked what he heard. Him and I talked for a while via Myspace, and we wanted to see if we had any music chemistry together. We met up, played together once, and things just clicked.

MP: How would you describe your sound?

FCM: Probably more of a “sarcastic/indie/acoustic/pop-punk” sound. It’s kinda hard for us to even classify ourselves sometimes. We’re both really big Say Anything fans. Max Bemis is one of our heroes. We liked his thoughtful but playful lyrical style, and we felt we could relate to it. We want kids to smile, while having songs stuck in their head that aren’t filled with depressing vibes. All of the songs we write are meant to keep you in a good mood, without being ridiculously fluff, to the point it gets annoying. We want to give kids a somewhat new style, if that’s even possible these days.

MP:What inspires First Class Motive?

FCM: A lot of our inspiration comes from past experiences we’ve learned from in some way. Whether it’d be good or bad, we try to give the feel that the kids listening actually know us. The songs are us with a melody. We have a few breakup songs, and people always ask us if we’re bitter toward relationships. We choose to make light of heartbreak because a lot of bands seem to only focus on it, as an almost “end of the world” type of deal. We made it out of breakups ok, and we want kids to know they can too. If kids can smile and feel like two guys from Indiana went through/are going through the same things as they are, then we feel like we did a decent job. That’s probably our biggest inspiration.

Can you talk about the record?

FCM: Disasterpiece is kind of Ryan and I (Michael) on a plate. A lot of the songs have a sarcastic undertone to them, but we’re both somewhat sarcastic guys. We try to convey ourselves to the best of our abilities in each song. We mix pop-punk melodies and vocals, while trying to keep the acoustic part of it in tact as much as possible. The record is mixed with songs poking fun at the politics in the current music scene, and our own little “situation anthems”. We go from talking about how break ups made us better people, to the stuck-up cliques in high school. We are very stoked about releasing the record before summer. We feel it has enough energy and mellow moments to be a record kids want to hear while just hanging with friends. We narrowed the track list down to 12 songs that we, as a band, felt could sum us up the best way possible.

Disasterpiece is acoustic. Will there be an electric album any time soon?

FCM: We have a couple of electric leads in Disasterpiece, but for the most part is was kept exclusively acoustic, to give kids something different. We are actually writing songs for the next record right now, and a few things we have messed with actually do have more of an electric feel. We want to progress with the next album, without alienating the fans. They made us what we are in the first place. We’ll be playing with a more electric sounds, as well as some electronica in the near future. No word on us going full band right now. The way we see it, two guys playing acoustic/pop-punk sets us apart a little, and we kind of like that.

Can you describe a First Class Motive live show?

FCM: We try to keep is pretty light in feel, like you’re hanging out with your friends. We move around a lot, and get really into the songs. As much as we can, we try to get the crowd involved. Our actual goal is to have everyone leave and feel they just got back from a small house party. Once the show is over, we love to stick around and talk to as many kids as we can.

What’s your favorite song on the record?

FCM: There’s probably three songs that mean a lot to us. “Let‘s Get Some New Cliches” because it kinda wraps up our entire goal as a band in one song. We want to show kids there is different stuff out there than somewhat cliché metalcore. “Roses and Bloody Noses” because we felt we needed a catchy ‘breakup/I’m stronger than this’ song. We wanted to give kids who went through that to feel like they’re not alone, and there IS life after one. It can relate to guys and girls. And last would be “Coffee Isn‘t My Cup Of Tea”. This song is personal to us because we get a chance to kinda talk about our insecurities and vulnerability in certain areas. Most times, people keep a lot of that stuff in, and feel weird for talking about it. Along the same lines of “Roses and Bloody Noses” , we wanted kids to know they aren’t the only ones dealing with those feelings.

What is your favorite song to play live?

FCM:This one is kind of tough, because we can almost break it down to two. “Let‘s Get Some New Cliches” for the energy and the breakdown. Seeing kids get really into it and laugh is always fun for us. The most fun all around would probably have to be “Pen Pal (Hey, Christina!)” though. We love the fact that the chorus is sing-a-long enough, that kids who didn’t even know it beforehand are singing it before it’s over.

What’s your favorite theme park ride?

FCM: We’re big roller coaster fans. If there isn’t a roller coaster around, we’d gladly settle for a gnarly log ride or adorable Ferris wheel. When we go on tour, we’d love to stop at as many parks as we can along the way.

Any guilty pleasures?

FCM: We’re both big fans of the show “The Office”. We both quote that show almost on a daily basis.


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