On Friday, Oct 29, Mike Herrera of MxPx was interviewed by one of the
intrepid reporters here at Decapolis. Here's what he had to say...
Andrea: You've had the opportunity to work in what are considered the
"Christian" and "secular" music markets. Do you see a big dichotomy
Mike: For us, there really isn't, only because when we started out, we
really didn't know anything about the Christian industry. So we always
played local shows, with other local bands, and that's how we've always
done our thing. We promoted our own shows, and sometimes they were at
churches, sometimes they were at community centers, wherever we could get
a show. There really wasn't a whole lot of clubs that were actually made
for shows, where we're from. There weren't like, bars, you know. We
kind of just had to figure stuff out on our own. And we kind of just
took that, and we got signed to Tooth and Nail, and they're kind of a
Christian label. But we didn't realize there was really a difference
between the two markets. Which, there is, there really is. But we
didn't really like being in just one or just the other. As we see it,
music is music, and everybody, as individuals, stand for something. And
I guess the only thing that's different about other bands is just what
they believe, and who they are and what they stand for, and I don't think
it should matter where you're playing, or who you're playing with,
because people are people. I mean, we just play our shows, and we play
the places that are right for us, and it seems to work out really good.
Andrea: What are some of the differences that you've seen, and maybe some
of the pros and cons, in each separate scene?
Mike: I think the Christian market, a lot of the people working in that
market, don't really know what they're doing, because they're kind of
just taking stuff and making up their own rules... The music scene's been
around for, how long? At least about a hundred years. Obviously, it's
gone through major changes. There's just certain things that have
happened over the years, that have made music what it is today. I think
with Christian music, it's a reflection of what mainstream music really
is, it's just not as good. I don't know why that is, it shouldn't be
like that. I personally believe whatever you do, you should do it to the
best of your abilities. There's tons of bands out there, they don't
really care about the music itself, they just want to get signed, they
want to put out a record, they want to get famous, whatever they want. I
talk to bands all the time, and it's just like, "Oh, we gotta get
signed," and they've only been a band for two months.
Andrea: In Christian music, or, either...?
Mike: Actually, in both. It's like, for us, we were never really too
interested in looking really far ahead. We kind of took each of our
goals one step at a time. Like, "Okay, now that we've got this show,
what are gonna do next? We gotta get a show here..." And that's what we
did. We set very small goals for ourselves that were fairly easy to
achieve, and in that way, we became successful. When we put out our
first record: "Okay, well, we gotta get more shows, farther away from
home." Finally, we started touring. Everything to us is all about the
music. I think a lot of younger bands are focusing less on the quality
of the music, their passion for the music, and are focusing more on
getting signed, putting out records...
Andrea: Image, maybe?
Mike: Image, yeah. Putting out records, getting signed, that'll all come
later. But what's gotta matter is your devotion to what you do, your
music. That's the foundation for everything.
Andrea: While we're on that, first of all, how long have you guys been
Mike: Seven and a half years. We got together in July of 1992. So, it's
not quite a half yet.
Andrea: Do you view MxPx as a job, or, like you were just talking about,
is it more of a passion? Something you do because you really love to do
Mike: It's both, I mean, it is a job, it's the only thing I do for money.
But I can't think of anything I'd rather do. I love to do it. Even if
I didn't get paid, I'd still want to do it. You know what I mean? On my
days off, I'm still usually working. At home, in the studio, or
whatever, if I'm not doing something for MxPx, I'll still go in there and
try to record a song I've written or something. It's definitely what I
love to do. We all do.
Andrea: As a Christian, how do you approach your music, or the arts in
Mike: I guess what I believe definitely reflects my music. I don't know
if I approach the arts any differently. I respect art for what it is,
and I think art is important. I personally don't believe that art and
music have to have a utility to them to be important. It can just be
something to enjoy, it can just be entertainment, it can be a picture,
just something to look at. I don't agree with a lot of the
fundamentalists out there that say that, if your art or whatever you're
doing isn't working toward their goal, whatever it is, then it's not
valid. Well, I don't believe that. I think that if we enjoy what we're
doing, and other people enjoy it, then that's just, in itself, worth
something to me. I guess that's how I approach the arts.
Andrea: What are some of your favorite songs to play?
Mike: Off of "Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo," for me, "Tomorrow Is
Another Day," that's song two. I think there's a couple others out
there, it's hard to say. It's just, I've played them so many times.
There's not one that's way better than the other ones or whatever. I
think a lot of our newer stuff, just because it's new, will be really fun
to play, and really fun to sing. Let's see... "The Downfall of the
Western Civilization," is pretty fun, even though I'm always out of
breath, so much energy goes into it.
Andrea: On that note, what can we expect from you guys in the near
future? Sounds like you have some new stuff...
Mike: Yeah, we have a new album coming out next year, early next year.
It's called "The Ever Passing Moment." We've been recording it all
summer. Well, not all summer, part of the summer we've spent recording
it. We're really happy with it, it's our best stuff ever. We're not
quite done with it. We've got a couple more songs to record, and then
the artwork to do, which always takes forever.
Andrea: How has your outlook changed since you started the band? Are
there things that, because of your experience in MxPx, you view
Mike: Yeah, that's a hard question, because over a quarter of my life
I've spent in this band... I think we learn a lot, from around being a
senior in high school and in those couple years after high school, a lot
changes, for everybody really. So I don't know what would be different
if we weren't in the band. We'd be going through those same changes,
those same experiences. But we definitely did learn a lot from touring
on our own. Right out of high school we went out, and it was just us
guys, kids. We didn't have a touring manager to take care of us or
whatever. It was just us driving in the van, to each city, playing.
Whatever problem we had, we had to figure it out on our own. Every time
our van broke down, we had to get it fixed. Flat tires, whatever it is.
So I definitely think this band has helped to contribute to our
personalities, and our lives. Definitely our experiences. We've been
through a lot, seen a lot of places. We've seen pretty much every city
in this country. Lots of different countries. It's hard to imagine what
it would be like if we weren't in this band.
Andrea: Where did you learn what you believe?
Mike: Well, I grew up in church, I grew up going to church. I've always
pretty much believed in God, but there comes a point in your life where
you have to really know what you believe, and it's not just what your
parents believe. For me, that was probably in high school. I had a
couple older friends who were really good influences on me. And it all
just made sense to me, you know? I think we all went through the
rebellious stage, but I think mine was pretty quick. I was pretty
focused on making a difference in my own life, as far as whatever I
believed, and what I was going to do with my life. I didn't go to
college, but I was pretty focused on being in a band, and playing music.
Andrea: Who are the people you view as role models, maybe impacted you in
Mike: That's a good question. I've never really thought about that much.
I guess I don't have one person I would consider a role model. I think
I take my inspiration from bits and pieces, here and there. Things I
see, people I meet, people I know, my best friends. That's a good
Andrea: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
Mike: I like catchy songwriting, like Matthew Sweet. Rock stuff, that's
got really good melodies, hooky melodies. It's hard to say, because I
listen to so many different styles of music. Anything from country, to
rock, to punk rock. I really like All, The Descendants, Elvis Costello,
Tom Petty, and the Beatles. The Beatles and Costello are really my
favorites. I'm really into listening to the songs for what they are.
Andrea: All right, last question. What kind of stuff do you do besides
Mike: Besides music? Hmm... do interviews! Let's see... Watch movies. We
go out to see movies sometimes. I mean, sometimes I never see movies,
and sometimes I go see a bunch. I used to snow board a lot, but I
haven't lately. But I will be this winter. Recording, I really like
recording. Oh, I guess that's music..That's probably my favorite thing
to do, play music. Skateboarding. Nothing really important. (Laughs)
Andrea: That's all we have today. Thanks very much for your time, we
really do appreciate it!