Interview with MxPx
by Tammy Adin

MxPx started as three 15-year-old kids calling themselves Magnified Plaid pounding out music inspired by and similar to The Descendents,NOFX and other Southern California pop-punk bands. The trio were classmates at Central Kitsap High School in nearby Silverdale, WA.   They didn't really love their band name, however, which was a tribute to the original guitarist's fascination with plaid shirts. Consequently, the name was abbreviated to M.P., but in Yuri Ruley's handwriting, periods become "X"'s and since he made up the show posters for the band, the four-letter moniker stuck.  MxPx caught the attention of Tooth & Nail Records when they played a "showcase" for the label in 1993 in Herrera's parents' back yard. Mike Herrera had practiced so much before the first show, he lost his voice. MxPx released three albums with Tooth & Nail Records. After a falling out with Tooth & Nail Records, MxPx left the label and signed with the (at the time) independent label A&M Records. After the re-release of Life In General, MxPx released three more studio albums with A&M. MxPx had fulfilled their contract obligations and decided to part ways with A&M, which had been aquired by media giant Universal. In 2005, MxPx released Panic with another independent label named SideOneDummy Records. (from Wikipedia).

Mike Herrera – Bass Guitar, Vocals, Keyboard
Tom Wisniewski – Guitar, Background Vocals
Yuri Ruley – Drums

I recently met up with Tom before their Columbia, MO show at the Blue Note, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Tell me about the members of MxPx.   Name, instruments and one intriguing fact that the readers of Punk Globe didn't know about each band member.

There’s Mike that plays the bass and sings.  Me, I play guitar, I sing a little background.  And there’s Yuri who plays drums and uncontrollably wakes up screaming in the middle of the night.  We don’t know why, but he pounds on the bunk, he freaks out.  He yells things about muppets, daddy.  I’m not even joking!  There is an intriguing fact.

What about you?

About me?  I’m kind of a whiz in the kitchen.

What’s your favorite dish?

I like cooking filets and stuff. 

Can you give me a brief history of the band?

A really brief history – here we go:  We started in 1992, played in Mike’s backyard, put out a record Fall of ’94, Summer of ’95, Fall of ’96.  We just toured like crazy.  Straight out of high school, I graduated on a Monday, shot a video on Tuesday, went on tour for two months on Wednesday.  Been pretty much “rinse and repeat”, everything since then, you know – record, tour, record, tour, record, tour some more.  So, that brings us up to the present.

You’re like the “new kid”, aren’t you?

Well, yeah, I wasn’t in it for the first two and a half years but I’ve been in like over 11 years, so I kind of consider myself part of the band now.

How would you describe your sound?

Loud, fast, melodic.  When we go to airports and people ask “oh what kind of band are you?”  we say “loud”.

Who are your influences?

Definitely the Descendants are a big one.  They wrote the book on the pop punk thing as far as we’re concerned.  Black Flag, Sex Pistols, and the Clash,

Who writes your music?

Mike does.  He writes the songs and then we all get together in the studio and read over some stuff… and some stuff just stays how it was and some stuff completely changes.

What’s your favorite MxPx album?

You know, it’s hard to pick a favorite.  It’s like do you have a favorite daughter or son, what do you do?  You tend to go with the new one because it’s new and it’s fresh and it’s exciting to you still.  You haven’t heard it a million times and played the songs live a million times so you know “Panic” definitely stands out for me and plus the way we recorded it, it was very punk rock, it was like a get back to basics kind of recording set up. 

Are you writing any new material? 

There’s actually going to be two new releases by the end of the year.  One is going to be a re-release of “Let It Happen” which is a B-side compilation that Tooth & Nail put out in 1998.  We recorded three new songs for that, and it’s also going to have a DVD with a bunch of our videos on it.  That’s going to be one thing… and another thing is we’re releasing a new B-sides record.  It’s called “Let’s Rock”, it’s like a rarities kind of compilation thing.  And that’s going to be on Side One Dummy and that’s going to be out right around the same time.  So, put it on your Christmas lists, kiddies!

What is the most bizarre thing that has happened on stage during a MxPx show?

There’s always the inevitable pants falling down and stuff like that.. “oh my belt broke… there goes my pants!”  That’s always interesting.  There’s always the good one where you run up to the front of the stage and fall off, and then the stage is too high to jump back on so you have to run around outside or whatever to get back on stage.  That’s always interesting.

What bands have you toured with?

I think at this point we kind of have to start saying what bands haven’t we toured with.  We’ve toured with everybody.

Who was your favorite?

You know, I don’t know.  Again, that’s hard to say because you have a great time all the time with the people you’re out with.  Then you go on the next tour…the next tour is different.

Who would you most like to tour with?

The Beatles, The Who and the Clash.  We could open for them.

Can you share one of your wildest tour stories from the past, and from the present?

I almost got into a fight the other night.  That was fun!  There were these kids kind of heckling us in the crowd.  Like in between when we were playing they would figure out what they were going to chant the next time we stopped playing.  So they started with “Reel Big Fish” who were playing after us, and they were just saying anything they could think of, and so at one point it got kinda quiet and they weren’t saying anything and I was like,  “you know what?  I got something to say to these two kids right here”, and I pointed them out to the crowd.  And I was like, “you know what?  I don’t come to your work and slap the dick out of your mouth” and the whole place exploded and these kids kind of got a little offended and a friend of ours who is out singing with us right now, he said this whole thing:  “who is here to see a ska show?”  and half the crowd cheers, “who is here to see a punk show?” the other half cheers, “who is just here to a great show with great music and have a really good time tonight?”.  Everyone cheers.  He was like, “there you go, guys… you’re definitely in the minority.  But you know what?  If this was my show I’d be in the crowd kicking your ass but since it isn’t,  We’ll all be waiting out back.  See you out there later.”  So we waited out back for them after the show, because for the rest of the show they are all pointing at me like “You, me, outside, after”.  I was like, that’s cool, whatever. 

So did they show up?

No, they walked out but they saw us and they went straight for their car.  We figured they’d drive by so they could yell something at us, so we hung out next to the street where they had to go.  They drove by, windows up, staring straight ahead.  They got stuck in a left hand turn lane so we started running after their car and as soon as they saw us they bolted over to the right hand turn lane and just took off.  They ran.  It was pretty fun.

Do you get treated differently by other bands that you play with, for having Christian values?

No, we get treated differently by other bands more because we’ve been around for so long and, like, you know, some people kind of look up to us.  It’s just kind of a seniority thing, I guess.  Back in 2000 Fat Mike from NOFX said “one day this is going to turn for you guys and it’s going to go from you being the young band to you being like the veterans.  Every band will sound like you and it will just happen and you won’t understand it but it will happen.”  And it was weird because like a couple of years later it did. 

My daughter Madison plays bass and I'm learning to play the bass, starting very late at 48. At what age did you start playing music, and what were the first instruments you learned?

In fifth grade, the school band, I played the clarinet, but I hated that.  And so in seventh grade I started playing drums in the school band, and I got a drum set.  Then I got in some bands and one of my friends played guitar and I said, you know what?  I should learn to play the guitar.  So I went to my dad, and my dad got me like a cheap pawn shop crappy acoustic guitar and I played along to like Green Day or Bad Religion songs trying to figure them out, you know.  And then I got in this band.

Any words of advice for new musicians/bands?

Definitely don’t record a demo until you’ve had a band for like a year.  I mean, it’s your first impression, you’re like “hey this is what we’re like”.  Don’t record a demo like really crappy the first day you are a band because you just blow your first impression.  You want it to be really good and you want people to go “whoa, how come I never heard of this band?”.

What songs are your favorites to perform?

I like playing one of our songs called My Life Story because it’s got a lot of guitar holdouts and I can just run around, jump around, pump my fist in the air, you know. 

You’ve done some really great covers over the years, my favorites being the Ramones and Social Distortion.  Which covers did you enjoy doing the most?

Lately we’ve been doing 500 Miles by the Proclaimers, that’s always fun, and Should I Stay or Should I Go by the Clash.  I actually sing that one.

Your Myspace page has an impressive amount of fans and a lot of plays of your music.  Has Myspace helped get your name and your music out there?

You know what, I think our name and band was already out there, I think it’s more just connected to the fans more on like the grassroots level than like getting us out there.  As opposed to where it helps new bands really become a thing.  This is more of like a way to be in touch with the band. 

What do you do for fun when you are not performing?

Play video games.  Hang out, do whatever, go to record stores.

Is anyone involved in any other music projects?

Mike’s got a little side thing that he does every once in awhile.  We have another band where we all kind of play in every once in awhile, it just depends. 

What is the girlfriend status of the band members?

We’re all married.  To girls.

Any last words for Punk Globe readers?

What’s up, Punk Globe? 

Thanks so much to Tom and the other members of MxPx for answering my questions, and for the great show at the Blue Note!

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