MxPx has hit the road again, this time promoting their newest release, “Before Everything and After,” which showcases a more polished sound with more mature lyrics. They recently made a stop at Rochester’s Water Street Music Hall where they performed to a young crowd of enthusiastic fans.

Before the show, the Campus Times got a chance to chat with the punk rock band in their posh, luxury tour bus parked out behind the venue. The band, which has been together for more than 10 years, had just gotten back from dinner and took some time out to talk before they took the stage.

Campus Times: How did you guys get started playing music? When did you first pick up an instrument?

Mike Herrera: In the beginning, there were a lot of local bands playing punk rock. And there was one in particular that played the style that I was really into, which was sort of California, Descendents, Bad Religion, kind of fast, but melodic. That kind of got me interested as well as a couple other friends I knew had guitars. So I started learning to play the bass and the guitar about the same time, writing songs.

Yuri Ruley: I got into drumming. I met Mike the summer of ’92 and I’d been playing drums for a couple months. I had some friends who were in bands, too. And same thing, ya know? Just wow, that’s what I want to do.

MH: We were in the skate scene. All we did was skateboard all the time, go to shows, so it was like, I’m skateboarding, I might as well be in a band, too.

Tom Wisniewski: My dad was Eric Clapton. So the guitar just kinda goes with it. No, I saw a family friend playing drums and I was just like, “I need to do that.” It was loud, it was awesome, his arms were flailing.

CT: You mentioned that you knew you wanted to play punk rock. Was there ever another genre you considered or was it always punk?

MH: Always punk. Well, rock n’ roll, punk rock. That was sort of what I was into. It’s the music of youth and growing up and trying to figure it all out. That’s what I was doing at the time – still am – but that was the music that was speaking to me. I liked a lot of other bands like Bryan Adams, the Beastie Boys. But as far as what made sense to me, what I totally got, was punk rock.

CT: What about you guys?

YR: It was the same. I listened to other music. But punk rock is that style of music that is sort of an introduction to being a musician for a lot of people. ‘Cause it’s not really technically difficult, it’s easy for someone who’s new at playing music to get into. Plus beyond that we were listening to it. We were like, “yeah, let’s do that.”

TW: A friend of mine let me borrow some “Liveage,” and I was sold. I listened to Pearl Jam before that. But Descendents’ “Liveage” sealed it for me. And then I borrowed “No Control” by Bad Religion. Then I was definitely sold.

CT: Did you start playing bass or guitar first?

MH: I started playing bass. But I started playing bass before I actually had a bass on a classical guitar. Just play single notes on the guitar, ’cause, the whole time I was 14 trying to save up money to buy a bass. My mom had this crappy old classical guitar so I was kinda messing around and learning to move my fingers around on it for a couple months.

I remember learning some Dead songs and some Violent Femmes bass lines on the classical guitar. And then I got a bass in a pawn shop for $180. Still have it, don’t use it. I still have it just for old time’s sake. And then I started playing bass full time and I had a little bass amp. After that, it was about six months after I started playing bass, I got an electric guitar as well. I started learning how to play the electric guitar chords.

CT: Punk is a pretty broad genre and you guys are sorta on the lighter side of it. For the future, what are your plans?

MH: I don’t know, that’s a good question. Anything could happen because, I mean, we write so many songs for each album it just depends on which songs get chosen for the record. Those songs make the sound of it. There were tons of songs we had written for this record, the new album we have out “Before Everything and After,” that were really heavy, hard kind of stuff, like yelling kind of stuff. They just didn’t get picked I guess. I don’t know. I think our next record will be even different, you know. It will probably be very punk rock, but at the same time very catchy, something new in punk rock. We always try to do something of our own. Punk rock in general, music, it all can be very similar to one another. I think it’s just mixing and matching certain ideas with new ideas.

CT: What do you guys think about the new generation of punk?

MH: Well, punk has become just another business, you know, a marketing scam. It seems like people are in bands nowadays for all the wrong reasons. When we started out we didn’t even consider getting signed or being a touring act. We were just playing in our garage. Playing a party down the street was just as good as anything. It was amazing. Just inviting people over to watch us practice was like playing a show. We used to do that all the time. Nowadays we see all these kids that are like, “hey, here’s my demo, we’ve been a band for two months.”

YR: There’s like a business plan or something.

MH: Yeah, they’re like “we’re really trying to get our name out there and da-da-da.” But it’s like, why don’t you concentrate on the music. If the music matters and if the music’s good, then you’re not necessarily guaranteed success, but somebody’s going to notice. These days it’s less and less because people only notice what gets crammed down their throats ’cause we’re so desensitized to anything good. We don’t necessarily recognize what’s good and bad, we just recognize what’s there and what’s not. And we forget about what’s not in your face and we buy what we see. So if you see a logo over and over and over, chances are they’ll go buy that album. In general there are a lot of good bands out, just like there were 10 years ago. There are still good bands coming out, new, good people. I just think overall the market has been flooded with a bunch of crappy bands.

YR: Yeah. And fashion wise, too. Hot Topic and stuff. That wasn’t around 10 years ago for sure. You had to work a lot harder and look a lot harder to get stuff like that, like studded belts and stuff.

MH: Now it’s just common place. I feel like an idiot, even though we’ve all been wearing these things for 10 years or more, or more than 10 years, before we were in this band. It’s weird.

CT: Do you guys feel like there’s a big difference between the small concerts you give and the bigger ones? Are the big ones better?

TW: They both equally have their good and bad parts. There is a huge difference between them. If you compare playing here to whatever the enormodome around here is. This is cool ’cause it’s tight and sweaty, and the fans right there. But it can suck too if they’re just kinda halfway into it. But then you play the enormodome and you’re playing, and even if everyone’s giving you a half- hearted thing it sounds huge. But then the crowd’s really kind of distant. It’s like you’re playing just for yourselves to a sea of faces that you can’t make out.

YR: Yeah, intimacy’s not there as much.

TW: Yuri likes to get intimate with every single person in the crowd.

YR: I do, I like to make a bond.

CT: What’s Warped Tour like along that? It’s huge but they’re not really distant.

TW: They’re not super distant. On stage you can see more people. It’s like a big show, though. At Warped Tour it’s good ’cause it’s a place to be and you’re in front of tons of people that might not come to see you. But it’s rough on bands and rough on fans too because it’s like “Thank you, goodnight, Hi, we’re blah blah blah.” Bam, instantly, there’s no breaks. It’s over the top.

MH: It’s a factory.

TW: Yeah. Then the second that band gets done it’s like “Hi we’re this band.” Instant switch over. Maybe you get 10 seconds, 30 seconds of downtime in between bands.

YR: It takes

a while sometimes, especially when you’re playing after someone really popular, for the crowd to kind of shift over sometimes. But Warped Tour’s not too bad.

CT: This is kind of a popular topic nowadays. What do you think of people downloading mp3s?

TW: Whatever, you can’t sit around worrying about it ever. I think the whole argument that music’s too expensive, and I don’t have enough money. It’s like, gas is really expensive, if I went and stole it, I’d get arrested. BMW’s are really expensive. I want one, I’m just going to take it. What? I couldn’t afford it, I just took it. Cops leave me alone, get these handcuffs off of me. To me, stealing is stealing and it’s easy to put music and movies up on the internet and it’s easy to download them and have them and not have to go to the store and buy it. It’s easy not to support your favorite bands. Me personally, I don’t download from Kazaa or Napster or something like that. If I download anything it’s from the Apple music store or I just go buy the CDs. I’d rather go to the store and buy the CD and support the band. If I like the band I want to see them become big rock stars and keep doing what they’re doing. I don’t want to see them having to wait tables in between tours, ya know?

CT: Have you noticed any differences before the internet was really popular and now in record sales?

MH: The big artists sell just as many. Small artists sell less I think. A band like us would sell less. If we ever got big enough it wouldn’t matter ’cause people would still want our records. Eminem’s doing just fine.

CT: What’s road life like? You see movies about it, but I don’t really know…

MH: It’s pretty much like those movies.

YR: The party is behind that door right now, waiting to burst through.

MH: It’s insane.

CT: How long are you guys on the road at a time?

TW: With this I think we’ll have been out for like two months. You get tired.

MH: It’s a lot of partying. It’s a lot of being tired mostly. I got up at 3:11.

TW: I got up at 3:12. You’ve been up almost four hours.

MH: I wish I could go back to bed.

YR: I got up early today, like quarter to one.

CT: Do you spend the night in a hotel and drive the next day or sleep on the bus?

TW: We sleep on the bus. Everyone’s got their own bed. There’s a TV with satellite and DVD. Everyone’s like, “wow, you’ve got this rad bus.” But if we didn’t have this rad bus we’d be so bored.

MH: It’s comfortable, you just chill.

CT: Do you get to see a lot of the places you go?

TW: We don’t get to see much. I woke up, went and worked on my guitar because it was breaking last night. Then I came out and we went and did an on air radio thing, we did an interview and played some songs. Then we went out and got food. Now we’re doing an interview. And in 13 minutes we have a meet and greet with a whole list of people then we play at 9:45. So we don’t see a ton of the city, but we have.

YR: Our first couple tours was like “let’s go visit this and that.”

CT: You guys have done a couple European tours, did you get to see stuff over there?

YR: Not really.

TW: We flew over to England one time and we were all way jet lagged. Me and one of our techs, this guy Neil, we were just both wide awake. We ran into each other in the lobby of the hotel. And I was like, “Dude, I cannot sleep.” And he was like, “Neither can I.” So we just went and walked around London and all of a sudden we noticed we were standing right next to Buckingham Palace. So then we’re like, let’s go to Big Ben. So we walked over there and stood right by it. Taking pictures. Every once in a while you’ll get a chance to wander around if you’re up and stuck somewhere.

CT: Another question about the bass thing. Most of the time it’s the lead guitar and the vocals. Bass players are generally the kinda crazy guy in the back.

TW: The guy with the weird hat.

MH: Well, I guess one of the reasons I did start playing bass was because of Sting, the Police, because I was really into them. And because I couldn’t think of many other bass players who did sing. There are more nowadays just because there are so many more bands.

TW: In the traditional blues bands type of thing the drums and bass were the rhythm section so they kinda hung back by each other. And the guy with the guitar with the little B.B. King lead would be up in the front, pouring his heart out.

CT: Do you guys want to add anything?

TW: We have a new record out called “Before Everything and After.” I’m very happy with it. Tell everyone to go buy it. If they don’t buy it, lame.

CT: Are you currently working on anything right now?

TW: Yeah. We’re not working like in the studio recording our next record, but we’ll demo them out. He’s always writing. We already demoed like three. I don’t remember them right now.

MH: That’s exactly why we’ve got them on tape.

Egan can be reached at cegan@campustimes.org.



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