MxPx: Rock’n’Roll, Then and Now

20 years down the road, MxPx is still rocking it despite the decline of ‘90s pop punk music which began the minute the Good Charlotte twins got their first tattoos. Eschewing straight edge to be (shock, horror) openly Christian, much of the band’s early attention in their heydays was due to their religious stance. While Green Day and The Offspring were singing about masturbation and racial violence, MxPx (aka Magnified Plaid back then) were innocently thrashing out songs about teenage politics and confusion in sugary, energetic, under 3-minute sing-a-longs. With a new studio album out this year, JUICE took the opportunity to speak to frontman Mike Herrera on what starting out as Christian band was like, and if Bieber Fever is the new pop punk…

Congratulation on your 20th year as a band!
Thank you very much.

Not many bands can say that they survived 2 decades of rock and roll. Add to that, the death of record sales due to the Internet. How different has it been for MxPx, in the early ‘90s compared to now?
Oh, so much has changed of course. We started out when cell phones were not part of our daily lives, just normal phones. The Internet was not part of our daily lives. Bands didn’t have webpages. The way people did things, it was all fax machines and real mags, like paper books, paper mags. I mean everything has changed in light, not only just us, so I think in that way, certain things have changed but we all had that sound… I dunno if you can call it the early ‘90s sound? I guess it is because that’s when we started, but uh… West Coast punk type, a lot of fast energetic sound. So we just tweaked it over the years, and of course we’ve also grown up a lot. A lot of the song titles were very silly, very young, very ‘high school’ back then. But now, the biggest change is that I’m now an adult and I write songs that span a larger age group.

That’s great. Rockaway 2012 will be the band’s 2nd gig in KL! The last time you played here, it was in a dodgy underground dive bar with a horrible sound system. We thought you guys deserved a much better venue. How did you get from there to playing at Rockaway? And are there any fond memories of your 1st KL gig that you’d like to repeat this time round?
Yea… That place that we played was pretty… pretty insane. I remember the walls were sweaty and the bathrooms weren’t quite proper. But the show itself was amazing. The bands were great, and everybody just had an amazing time. You know we’ll get the same energy from the crowd because it makes all the difference. Cause if the crowd loves it, if the crowd is into it, then it just makes us want to give 120%, and it’s gonna be an amazing time, an amazing experience.

We look forward to it. Your new studio album is called Plans Within Plans. Was the title inspired by the movie Inception?
No, but it’s actually a line from a song I wrote. People have pointed out that there’s a line with that phrase in it “plans within plans” from the movie Dune, the original movie Dune.  For me, it’s important to have an album title that works on multiple levels. It could be a bigger picture, you know? World view of what the album title is about down to a very personal view. So for me that is very important, so that’s why I named it Plans Within Plans.

Why did you form the MxPx All Stars? Where’s Tom and Yuri?
Well, I did that because Tom and Yuri don’t tour anymore. But I still have to go on shows every now and then. So I formed the All Stars, where I got musicians who are actually better than all of us original members put together. So it’s nice to have someone who can really, really rip the solos well, a drummer who can really play in different bands, it’s crazy. For me it’s important that I have players playing with me who I think are amazing, so that it’ll only get better and better as we go on.

But how does that work though? I mean, for recording you’ve got Tom and Yuri but when you perform live, it’s a different line up. How does the song-writing process and all work?
I write all the songs. The songs are mine, actually I produced the new album and everything. I’ve always written all the songs for MxPx, and Tom and Yuri just come in and play. So it’s just a different set of people, doing the same songs that I wrote. Of course, Tom and Yuri are the original members, nothing can change that, but the cool thing is being able to do these songs live and being able to tour when I wouldn’t be able to if I was going to do it just with Tom and Yuri.

Something like a bigger MxPx family, right?
Yea exactly. Like Jack who plays lead guitar for the All Stars, he plays with Tom and Yuri as well when we do shows with them. So we all kinda play together. Like the same family.