In the often transient, here-today-gone-tomorrow-world of independent punk rock, No Motiv are the exception to the rule. With the release of Daylight Breaking, their third album for longtime label Vagrant Records, this Southern California quartet proves that not only have they survived 8 years together as a band, but that they are just now hitting their stride. Their unique punk energy according to guitarist Max McDonald, finally reached the ideal proportions on Daylight Breaking. “I think that this time around it gelled a lot more. There were different elements of music that were thrown in , but instead of being so schizophrenic, there’s a smoother transition between all the styles that we like to play.”
The combination of these different elements is what has always set No Motiv apart from the multitudes of bands calling the southern coast of California home. After forming in 1995, the Oxnard-based No Motiv soon attracted the attention of a then-fledgling record label, Vagrant Records. They would soon be the very first band to sign with Vagrant, and in 1999 released their debut, And the Sadness Prevails…Two years, 10 tours and countless thousands of van-cramped miles later the band released their follow-up, Diagram for Healing, which showcased a more mature, road-experienced songcraft but the same heart-felt sincerity and melodic heaviness that the band was known for.
Since the release of Diagram for Healing, however, No Motiv has undergone some changes, both in terms of personnel and outlook. Original drummer left the band to pursue other projects, with bass player Roger Camero moving behind the kit and new bass player Jeff Hershey filling out the band. The lineup shift, says McDonald, was nothing if not a catalyst for further growth in the band’s sound, a maturation process that comes to bear on the refreshingly honest Daylight Breaking. “The three of us — me, Jeremy and Roger — wrote this record together, we just kind of did what was natural.”
Opening up with the anthemic “Independence Day,” Daylight Breaking is a culmination of the musical evolution that began on Diagram for Healing. The band’s trademark melodic crunch is still present in ample quantity, but it is tempered with a darker musical aesthetic and more perceptive lyrical themes. McDonald attributes this change to not only the shift in the band’s lineup, but also with just plain growing up. “We’ve embraced the more serious side of things, as far as music goes; definitely darker. I think it also has a lot to do with getting older and not really being interested in the things that you are when you’re younger. Some things kind of seem a little more petty to us.” He cites the song “Death in #’s” as a prime example of this newfound darkness, both musically and lyrically. “It’s less personal, and has a lot more to do with what we see going on around us instead of focusing on personal relationships, love songs and whatnot,” says McDonald. “Those are still there, and are definitely still an element of our writing, but I think we try to touch on issues that are a little more generalized as far as what we see going on around us everyday.”
Another point of pride for No Motiv regarding Daylight Breaking, is the fact that the album was produced and engineered by the band members themselves. Though the band had always recorded their demos themselves, this was their first self-produced release. But according to McDonald, it certainly won’t be their last. “It was kind of scary,” he says of the recording process, “but we’re really proud of the way it came out. This is the direction we want to go in from now on. To just to try to record ourselves and produce ourselves, but leave it up to somebody else, who really knows what they’re doing to mix it.” In this case, that somebody else was noted engineer Chris Shaw, who McDonald credits for augmenting the band’s production perfectly.
With the release of Daylight Breaking, No Motiv’s only goal is to continue to do what they’ve always done: work hard, get their name out there, and just be themselves, for better or for worse. Says McDonald, the band’s plan of attack is the same as it was so many years ago. “Basically, we’re gonna be on tour forever. We just really believe in the idea of getting out there, playing every show and making people recognize us.” However, with the impressive musical testament that is Daylight Breaking, it’s doubtful that any fan of emotionally charged rock music could fail to recognize No Motiv, not only as one of the more longstanding bands in the burgeoning modern punk world, but as a band that is just now in the prime of their musical lives. Says McDonald, “we’re definitely trying to focus more on where we’re going as opposed to where we’ve already been.” Enough said.