The evolution of Beckley’s Motion Theatre
Recently Graffiti had the opportunity to chat with the exceptionally polite Jason Lockart, manager of the Beckley area band, Motion Theatre, and the equally pleasant members Greg Lilly, Robbie Lanham, Justin Puett, and Krystion Stover.
Motion Theatre is a “bi-product of two local bands that eventually broke up and the remaining musicians were still seeking a new and different creative outlet.” Vocalist Lilly explains, “In 2010 Justin and I came together first, and then the rest just fell into place.”
Graffiti: In what ways, musically, lyrically, philosophically, does Motion Theatre differ from the previous bands?
Motion Theatre: I think we had been growing and consistently confronting our musical abilities, whilst also trying to question our stance on who we were, and what we were here for. As we grew and evolved, our music showed proof of this transformation. Our music is a reflection of where we are in life physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Graffiti: When the band came together, was there ever a discussion about which musical direction to go in or was it an organic path that you found yourselves on?
Motion Theatre: The previous band had been metal, and we knew that we, musically, wanted something else. We were writing real time, what was coming to us that sparked that gut feeling. It was kind of terrifying and chaotic at first, but we had real chemistry, and could feel it from the get-go.
Graffiti: Who and what do you guys find inspiring and influential that has helped shape the band as a unit or the individual members and the music that comes as a result? Music – bands/artists or certain albums? Movies? Books? Life experiences?
Motion Theatre: I think musically we were all kids of the 90s, and love artists like Nirvana, Alanis Morissette, Ben Folds Five, and Radiohead. A lot of the classics, too, like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Janis Joplin. Our music has never really been based off of anything [other] than our observation of the world around us. The condition of everyday life is always something inspiring to us. Our music is a ‘journal confessional’ of sorts. Just spitting out what comes without any censorship of what is felt.
Graffiti: What is it about rock ‘n’ roll that you love, personally and collectively?
Motion Theatre: Rock music affords musicians a sense of true intense connection with fans, self, and home. It’s amazing following in the footsteps of such great rock acts of the past. Rock brings all of the happy, sad, complacent, joyous people together.
Graffiti: How did the chemistry of the individual members affect the songwriting initially, and is it still the same, or has it evolved?
Motion Theatre: We always looked at life as one unit. Although there were personal differences in our perspective, process, and personality, we were looking for one cause. We found that offering our music authentically provided us a better connection to each other, and ourselves as well. It also almost organically came as a service. We felt purpose reaching out and writing things that made us ask questions, and gave us more of an urgency to answer them.
Graffiti: What is your songwriting process like? Is there a primary songwriter and/or lyricist? The band’s roster credits Greg with the lyrics, but does anyone ever try to put their own stamp on the lyrical content? How is the musical side of things created?
Motion Theatre: In the past, we have seen our instrument as our form of expression. Many times when the guitar is being written, percussion is coming together, and Greg is writing lyrics based off of what the song says to him sonically. Once we are all in a room working on it, it finishes itself up pretty quickly. We don’t like to be too precious about it. If it’s not coming out naturally, it probably isn’t supposed to come out at all. Songs write themselves.
Graffiti: Going back to (the theme of) evolution, a band’s first release is obviously a ‘first reaction’ of sorts, in terms of finding out where the musical direction of a band’s sound is heading. Was the approach different with ‘The Convalescing’? How has the direction of the sound changed from the debut EP to ‘The Convalescing’?
Motion Theatre: (Love) that you have used ‘evolution’ so much. As we grew as musicians, we also grew as people. ‘The Convalescing’ was really the demonstration of what we had learned from an industry standpoint, in working with a producer and having to do much more work to see a smooth release. On the other hand, these songs were direct reflections of what we were learning as our own selves evolved. It was a true moment of synchronicity. One that we would hope is present for each record we write.
Graffiti: What kind of support are you going to give ‘The Convalescing’ in terms of touring and distribution? Is there any particular area that the band wants to concentrate on promoting first, speaking locally and/or regionally, to garner new support from a new audience of fans close to home, or is that a concern at this point?
Motion Theatre: We are starting off slow with our touring efforts, working our way up as the year continues. We are playing Philly and Brooklyn in mid-March, and working our way down from there. We will spend 2013 truly focusing on our touring efforts.
Graffiti: To the people who might not be familiar with Motion Theatre, what would you like to say to them to get them to check the material out or come to a show?
Motion Theatre: We will mow your grass and feed your cats if you’ll buy our record!
Graffiti: How can current and prospective supporters find Motion Theatre material and merchandise?
Motion Theatre: Our record is distributed through iTunes, Bandcamp, CDBaby, Amazon, and Spotify. Our merchandise can be purchased at shows, but we are hoping to have an online store up for you soon. We’ll ship anywhere!
Fortunately for fans throughout West Virginia and the tri-state area Motion Theatre also plans on turning their attention to audiences closer to home.
While they will have already played to a few different crowds by this month’s end, they have a show coming up at the Raleigh Playhouse in Beckley on March 8 and an event at Liberty High School in Beckley where they will be getting music students involved in the set. As a band that is motivated by not only everything going on around them musically and existentially, they will always welcome the fans with open arms. “We like to hear from fans,” Lilly says emphatically, “and about what they came for.”
Motion Theatre can be found online in the following places: