Motion Turns It On – Turned On and Tuned In
Motion Turns It On - Turned On and Tuned In
Every city, large or small, has nurtured some incredible bands and sent them out into the wild. Houston, Texas is a strange anomaly in the respect that it is so unbearably huge, but at a superficial glance there doesn’t seem to be much going on in the ways of an indie rock ruckus. Chances are when someone hears music coming out of H-town, they are listening to Beyonce, the late, great DJ Screw, or Mike Jones. Unfortunately, many people may not know that over the last few years, a subculture of driven, gifted, and innovative artists have emerged in Houston and are performing original music that is polished and unpretentious.
Motion Turns It On is one of a handful of local bands that are taking their homegrown sound out of Texas and sharing it with the rest of the world. MTIO is a quartet of quirky and lovable gentlemen from the suburbs of Houston. Their sound is a rambunctious combination of haunting calm and poignant cheer and their first EP Rima is a truncated taste of their tremendous ability. Persistence and determination definitely pay off when it comes to MTIO. Having grown up in the same North Houston neighborhood, the guys have had plenty of time to get to know each other well. In the summer of 2001, a couple of them decided to get together and make some music. Since their inception, MTIO has gone through a band member or two, but have settled comfortably into their current structure. Regardless of the band’s formation, they have consistently created delectable and novel noise.
One of the reasons their music sounds so fluid and familiar is a direct result of the amount of time the guys took to themselves before unleashing their rock madness to an audience. Drummer Steve Smith talks about how their extended practice sessions contributed to the overall feel of their music. “We’ve gotten good at playing music with each other. I feel like we’ve gotten a little head start over most bands. We’re just now starting to get out there and play and we’ve already managed to get our sound together really well – instead of going out and playing and figuring it out later.”
They definitely have their sound together and the confidence and maturity that the band members exude makes their music that much more enjoyable to hear. The process they go through to create each melodic morsel is a calculated method that starts with something simple and evolves into a complex piece of instrumental fury. Even explaining their collaborative writing process is a joint effort. Guitarist Bill Kenny and keyboardist Andres Londono discuss the inner workings of a MTIO song. “The bulk of the time we’ve been together was our formative period – but it’s always based off of a small idea at first and then we build off of it. We don’t write in terms of regular song progression – we pretty much try to match up parts that we like and flow stuff together. It’s definitely a live writing process.”
It’s hard to imagine these guys ever having a small idea when the final product always results in a bold exclamation of rock savvy. From the moment the then-trio struck the opening note at their first live gig – they knew they had a good thing going. Although a friend, Londono was not an original member of the band. He actually became interested in what the other three guys had going on after seeing them perform at their first live gig. Kenny, with a mischievous grin, recalls that first show as his band mates listen on, “We were playing at this guy Travis’ house – and we were just a three piece then – I remember the first note that we played right when the first song started – knocked three pictures off the wall simultaneously. Yeah. It had a pretty good effect.”
Years after that gig, Motion Turns It On has found its niche as a band that is more cohesive and comfortable than it’s ever been. Having just finished a short East Coast tour that ran from Louisiana to New York, the guys will be settling back into Houston to eventually begin working on new material. There is a chance some of the new stuff will include an extra layer of goodness with the addition of vocals. Whatever the sound, listeners can be assured that these guys will continue to push the bar and experiment with rhythm, texture, and volume. They have already blown the door off the indie music scene in Houston and will no doubt be blazing a trail through your town soon.
–Brigitte B. Zabak for Amplifier Magazine