espite possessing a name that evokes Hollywood endings, the Long Island-based quintet thrives on pointblank veracity and raw emotions. That fact is apparent throughout the band's visceral new album, Forty Hour Train Back To Penn.
Every time front man Vinnie Caruana sits down to pen the lyrics to The Movielife's stick-in-your-head vocal melodies, wrist-racking chord changes and breakneck beats, he wrestles with a question: should he keep his personal life personal, or open up to the world?
The abbreviated plot thus far goes something like this:
Formed in 1997. Played first gig in drummer Evan Baken's basement. Spent a generous day and a half recording scrappy-but-catchy debut album, It's Go Time. Built following with a dynamic live show while touring the hardcore circuit. Solidified line-up with addition of guitarists Brandon Reilly and Dan Navetta, and bassist Phil Navetta.
Recorded critically acclaimed second album, This Time Next Year, with producer/unofficial sixth member Brian McTernan. Toured with kindred spirits New Found Glory, Glassjaw, Goldfinger etc. Signed to Drive-Thru. Released 2001's The Movielife Has A Gambling Problem EP. Recorded Forty-Hour Train Back To Penn.
Except... that last part almost never happened.
Without getting too dramatic about it, The Movielife nearly died before they had a chance to record Forty Hour Train Back To Penn with McTernan at Salad Days in Washington D.C. The title comes from a line in the album's "Jamestown," a propulsive track that chronicles a harrowing van accident the band experienced while touring behind 2000's This Time Next Year.
Vinnie captures the details in lines such as "late-night snowfall. Get us to the hospital. Jamestown 94 West. And forty-hour train back to Penn," and "friendship forged through broken bones and tragedy." The end result of their high-speed encounter with black ice in pitch darkness? One totaled van, a broken wrist for Brandon, stitches for Phil and bruises for Vinnie.
Back in Long Island, The Movielife gave themselves time to heal. Friends eventually helped them return to the stage and studio. Glassjaw, The Reunion Show, Reach The Sky and a host of other Long Island bands organized a benefit for the group. And New Found Glory took them on the road for their first post-crash tour. Then, Richard and Stefanie Reines, Drive-Thru's brother and sister team, inked The Movielife to the label.
Fittingly, Forty Hour Train Back To Penn is the band's most realized work to date. Songs such as "Face Or Kneecaps," "Taking It Out And Chopping It Up" and "Ship To Shore" feature bullet-proof arrangements from the road-honed band. And throughout, the album showcases Vinnie's talent for succinct, emotional narratives. In other words, the truth.
: Movielife [dot] com