I had the honor of chatting with MxPx singer and bassist, Mike Herrera, after his set as he made an impromptu appearance at the San Francisco stop of the ‘12 Vans Warped Tour. He shared with me the latest on MxPx, his solo career, and views on punk rock as he sees it now.
(photo by Tina Barnes)
Today you’re doing an acoustic set…
Mike Herrera: Yes! Actually, today was special. Not only are we in San Francisco and it’s a beautiful day, but I had Emily Whitehurst, formally of Tsunami Bomb – a very Bay Area punk band, she came up and sang a bunch of songs with me… and of course I did some other stuff. But the acoustic basement stage has been a cool little thing, it’s been a fun time.
I caught some of your set, I’m glad that you came out. This was very off the cuff.
Mike: Yea, I was already out here for a couple days, so I just talked to Kevin, and said “Hey, I‘m here” so he put me on the stage. So I’m turning a kinda vacation/work thing here. We’re doing our 20 year anniversary show, that’s coming up next weekend, in LA.
Where’s that going to be at?
Mike: That’ll be Anaheim Friday night, June 29th, that’s sold out… then Hollywood the next night, June 30th, there’s still some tickets left. The next week we go to New York, July 6th… Philadelphia, July 7th… there’s still plenty of tickets for those shows if you’re on the east coast. Really it’s just like a 20 year celebration, cuz we don’t play as much as we used to… but we still are a band. We have a new record out.
What’s the name of it?
Mike: Plans Within Plans.
What were the thoughts behind that? Any direction you wanted to go with the album, or a certain message you guys wanted to capture?
Mike: The direction is balls-to-the-wall, skate punk album. It’s a MxPx album for sure. Very much strait forward. It’s got a moderate feel to it, but it’s still got everything you love about MxPx. It’s a little more serious MxPx, cuz we’re a little older now. I think it’s perfect cuz we’re aging with our fans, or maybe… whatever it is… our fans are aging with us, so a lot of our fans have real jobs and some may have some kids… and even some guys in the band have real jobs, family and kids.
But still finding the time to get together…
Mike: but yea, we still do music. Yuri‘s got three kids, our drummer, and that really makes it hard to do full time touring.
Yea, as a single mom, I could imagine with three kids… that‘s kinda hard.
Mike: Exactly. I don’t have kids, so I still tour all the time. I do solo stuff. I do another band called Tumbledown… but MxPx… you know… I’ve really tried to reflect on my time with MxPx, and try to like celebrate those years. What we’ve done and hopefully what we will still do, but it’s definitely changing. Life is changing. I’m doing more acoustic solo stuff. I still love to do punk rock, and I love to listen to punk rock… and the Warped Tour is awesome. It’s a place where I kind of cut my teeth, as far as punk rock goes. We did so many years, so many times… being back is definitely nostalgic. It’s fun though. Everyone is so nice, all the crew, people that I used to know I’ve been seeing around… they‘re all so great. It’s a real family here.
What are your thoughts on how Warped Tour used to be in the beginning versus how it is now?
Mike: Umm… you know everything changes… but honestly, it hasn’t changed as much as you’d think it would have. 18 years… it’s been 18 years now, and uhh… bands come and go, you know, sometimes you have legacy bands that come back like Pennywise, Bad Religion has come back a lot, NOFX… you know, I think MxPx is sort of in that category where we come back now and then. Back in 2005 we came back and did our whole thing, and that was really fun. That’s like forever ago now…
So as far as future touring…
Mike: Well we’re doing the anniversary run off shows, but we’re not really touring, but I’m touring. I’ll be going to Europe after that. I’ll be all over Europe doing festivals with MxPx All-Stars. Basically it’s MxPx without the guys, so I call it All-Stars. I have a back up band, and it’s basically an MXPX party with me singing and playing bass. Uhh… it kind of gives me a chance to play all the songs that Tom and Yuri never wanted to play, or do stuff that we normally wouldn’t do with those guys. So it really is, like in a way, it’s just as good as MxPx… but it’s a little more free. It’s more diverse. I mean, I’ve been doing a few tours here and there, but I try not to do too much with it. Just enough to where it’s special… and… people really like it and I’ve been having a good time. I haven’t heard anyone all pissed off about it. I think that if we did that 15 years ago, back when the scene was really about who’s selling out and who’s not, then they would have probably been pissed about it… but everyone’s so mellow nowadays.
It goes with the Warped Tour itself… a lot of different genres being introduced and it’s really the attitude that’s keeping everyone together…
…rather than how your music sounds, or how you’re dressed, or how you look… which is what punk rock is really about.
Mike: Yeah, everything evolves…
Well, thank you so much for talking with me!
Mike: I appreciate it… absolutely!