For fans of pop punk, it may be hard to believe, but Bremerton, Wash., natives MxPx are in the middle of their 20th anniversary tour, which came together in part after learning that drummer Yuri Ruley was going to retire, until the band's fans begged him not to. The band ended up releasing a new record, Plan Within Plans, in April and has soldiered on since. Ahead of their show at the House of Blues in Anaheim, we caught up with singer Mike Herrera, who filled us in on the happening with the punk veterans.
OC Weekly: Can you believe the band has been together for 20 years?
Mike Herrera: It doesn't feel like 20 years at all. But then again, 10 years ago doesn't seem that long ago. It's something that's going to happen once and I don't think we're going to make it to 40. Even if we did, it's ridiculous to even think about. We're gonna do this 20 year anniversary celebration all summer long and make the best thing we can out of it.
Being that the lineup has remained the same throughout the course of the band's history, how have you managed to stay together without having any major issues or replacement players?
Tom [Wisniewski] and I have been the ones that have clashed over the years, but overall, we get past it pretty easily. The attitude is that we have a job to do, so let's do it. Maybe those guys don't think too much about it or don't say anything and I'm sort of the same way. So even though that we may be pissed off at each other, we'll grumble then get over it. I know a lot of bands break up over fighting or even just being bored. Over the 20 years, we've done a lot of different stuff that hasn't been boring. It's been an amazing experience.
How do you think being from Washington as opposed to somewhere like Southern California, which is known as a punk haven, has helped or hindered the growth and uniqueness of the band?
It feels like we're in our own little corner of the world. There's not really a lot of bands like us up in Seattle and not a lot that have done much. As far as the pop punk world goes, you get a lot of bands from all over the country, but most are from California, New York and England, and not here. I never felt like I was part of a bigger scene in my area because there was a punk scene, but there wasn't a band unlike anyone else there. I can't say what would happen if we lived in L.A. Obviously things would be different for better or worse, but who really cares?
What's been the most gratifying part of this journey?
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I like to work hard and play hard and as I'm getting older, I've been focusing more on the traveling aspect of what we're doing. It's a blur going all over the world for 20 years and each time I go back to Japan or London or even Los Angeles, that's a new experience and something I take seriously and I've learned to really enjoy seeing places and meeting people. It feels like I'm in an old band and that I'm 60 or 70, but I'm only 35 and that's what I think I'm allowed to do.
That being said, you guys have a new album that just came out, so obviously the band's creativity is still pretty vibrant. What was different making this record as opposed to something you've done in the past?
I'm definitely more of a Universalist. I've got my ideas politically and ideas of the world, but my views are much more broad now. I'm trying to take all of the bad experiences I've had and turn them around to good, but it doesn't always happen that way. MxPx has always been known as a very positive band, but the main thing that is different is my outlook on life. There's urgency, but in the end, I really want people to enjoy the music. If that's coming from an aggressive place, there's a perfect record to get that fix. I think that's what's kept us going, seeing that we've energized people, which also energizes us.