POZ Decade: The Movielife - Forty Hour Train Back To Penn

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 26, 2013

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We are incredibly excited to be launching our second Decade feature in celebration of The Movielife's Forty Hour Train Back To Penn, which was released ten years ago today. Though the band has been broken up for most of the past decade, minus two reunion shows, Forty Hour is a record that many POZ team members and bands that we love hold dear to our hearts. We have commentary on the album via team members Erik van RheenenAdrienne Fisher, and guest Marc Gary Gray. Enjoy and reblog to let us know your thoughts on Forty Hour Train Back To Penn ten years later!

Legacy of Forty Hour Train Back To Penn:

2003 was (clearly) a banner year for Drive-Thru Records pop punk, and The Movielife’s album Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (clearly) fits into that category. However, unlike almost any other album in this showcase, this album marked the end of a band’s run, as opposed to the many debut or sophomore albums you’ll be reading about in the next few weeks. Forty Hour Train Back to Penn plays like many of its peers: 3 minute catchy jams about heartache, longing, and let’s face it…girls. With the aid of retrospect, this album feels rather dated. There is certainly an air of sincerity surrounding these tracks, but with so many of their contemporaries striking similar chords (chords…get it? Never mind…), the only remarkable thing about this album 10 years later is how unremarkable it sounds. In effect, this album permanently grounds the band (and, with help from others, Drive-Thru Records) as relics of the early 2000s, a time when boy bands were fading from the spotlight but Kanye and Skrillex weren’t there yet to grab hold of the pop music reigns. It was a time when four unassuming guys from Anywhere, USA could wear their hearts on their sleeves and sell records while they were doing so. Fans of pop punk (myself included) will continue to love this record the way we love playing old NES games on the Wii; we don’t want to go back for good, but we’re glad we can from time to time. - Marc Gary Gray (@marcgarygray)

How Forty Hour Train Back To Penn holds up in 2013:

Pop punk isn’t a genre that ages especially gracefully, but Forty Hour Train Back to Penn holds up remarkably well. That might have something to do with the fact that it’s the last record we got from The Movielife, and with Vinnie Caruana saying “The Movielife is dead” during the Acoustic Basement Tour, waiting for another Movielife record would be as aimless as waiting for Godot. Because the Movielife isn’t around to play these songs, giving Forty Hour Train Back to Penn a spin every so often keeps the songs as fresh as they were ten years ago. Caruana’s open-book lyrics still hit home, and while it’s a shame the Movielife called it quits, at least they saved their best album for last. Hearing Caruana perform some of these songs acoustically really illustrates their versatility, and that translation away from the full-band ethos keeps fans listening. - Erik van Rheenen (@TheVandyMan)

Movielife’s follow up to Forty Hour Train Back To Penn:

The Movielife put out Forty Hour Train Back To Penn in 2003 and, despite praise from the pop-punk community, announced less than a year later that the band was no more. And with that, the cord was cut – no final show, no posthumous B-side releases, no breadcrumbs to feed the fans.

So, to say whether or not the band was successful in following up their final full-length record truly lies in the way that the Movielife achieved closure for themselves and for their fans. In 2008, Caruana brought the songs back to full-band life by performing a set of Movielife songs at Bamboozle and Bamboozle Left that year, with Set Your Goals as a backing band. The decision to play this way was reported as because the other members of the Movielife were not willing to participate in a reunion, yet Caruana wanted to find a way to bring the songs back to life for fans that still loved the records and had been hoping against hope to hear the songs again in a live setting. Caruana also continued playing solo shows on a semi-regular basis over the years, touring by himself and playing sets that consisted of both Movielife and I Am the Avalanche songs.

At the end of 2010, however, an announcement appeared on the Internet stating that the Movielife were to officially reunite and play a slot at the 2011 Bamboozle festival. The news also came with some tour dates that featured both Caruana and Reilly playing acoustic together to help stir excitement and flesh out some of the older Movielife material that hadn’t been given a live incarnation in years. Six months of excitement culminated in a 40-minute set on the Saturday evening of Bamboozle on the Zumiez stage, with a collection of mostly older fans hugging one another and singing the old favorites at the tops of their lungs. However, one festival set wasn’t enough to send the band off for good, and shortly after the Bamboozle, a single Movielife headliner was announced for the end of August at Best Buy Theater in New York City. The band, in their communication spheres, could not stress enough that this was going to it, the last hurrah, for absolutely ever. No “we’ll see how it goes” sentiments or indication that there was any hope for the future. Frankly, the concrete fact that this show was truly the last one only made it more intensified (and the surprise unannounced guests of Brand New and Crime in Stereo only added to it!), and despite the set edging on clumsy, most of the members looked ecstatic to play to a gigantic sold-out theater and allow everyone involved to say their proper goodbyes to the Movielife. - Adrienne Fisher (@adriennerayfish)

Most memorable song on Forty Hour Train Back To Penn

There are better-written songs on Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (fan-favorite B-side “Sailor Tattoos”) and there are songs that pack harder emotional punches, (stand up and take a bow, “Ship to Shore”) but I’m hard pressed to find a pop-punk song that better defined a seminal generation for the genre than “Hey.” The charm of “Hey” is in its sheer simplicity: its power chords, its girl problems lyrics, its toe-tapping guitar riffs and snare drums. From Vinnie Caruana’s first few lines (“Hey, I guess I’ll figure it out / The reasons why things went the way they did / And why we can’t accept it”) listeners quickly find out there’s going to be nothing remotely flashy about the song. But that’s what pop punk was back in 2003: earnest, relatable songwriting, armed to the hilt with hooks.

As simple as “Hey” is musically, the song runs the gamut of emotions. You have Caruana coming to grips with a failed relationship and exorcising his demons, Caruana getting nostalgic (and bitter) over said relationship, and finally, Caruana confidently belting, “And even though we brought it crashing to an end I loved it all / And now I love my friend.” Caruana’s lyrics are intensely personal, and listeners take the breakneck emotional roller coaster ride sitting right next to him: the highs are sweeping, the lows are heartbreaking, and four simple chords have never hit this hard. Young love in “Hey” isn’t particularly innocent or beautiful, but it’s those ups-and-downs that make the song so unbelievably endearing ten years later. - Erik van Rheenen (@TheVandyMan)

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    We are incredibly excited to be launching our second Decade feature in celebration of The Movielife’s Forty Hour Train...
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    Read More 10 year reunion show please?
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