Thursday, December 20, 2012

All Ages Highlights II: Mike Herrera of MxPx (May/2011)

We went to a wedding and a "Punk Rawk Show" broke out!
Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Herrera of MxPx.
(Personal Collection)

Felipe M

The following is part of a series of music shows and events that I attended in the last year and half or so.  

May 27-30, 2011: Mike Herrera of MxPx Private Show--Lake Geneva, WI.

Spending three out of four weekends in May in the state of Wisconsin leaves me with a sickening feeling.  Nevertheless, it's worth going up there when I can't see some of these bands live in Chicago. In this instance, on Memorial Day Weekend of 2011, my buddy Jesse was getting married and I was part of his wedding.  The following is a quick chronicle of the Private Punk Rawk Show that broke out at his wedding. 

Jesse (left) on guitar;
Mike (right) on bass.
(Personal Collection)
Mike Herrera, lead vocalist/bassist of the band MxPx flew down from Bremerton, WA to perform during the "Happy Hour" portion of my friend's Jesse's wedding--except that Jesse didn't know anything about Herrera's arrival.  It was his wedding surprise, all planned out by his wife-to-be.

He thought he was getting an acoustic guitar from Herrera's folk music project, Tumbledown. As much as Jesse was content with the guitar, the look on his face when Herrera came out to greet his is simply, for lack of a better term, priceless.

From what I remember, Mike had flown into Chicago and was being driven to the small town resort of Lake Geneva, WI. He looked fatigued and hungry. None of us knew what to expect of the encounter.  Somebody handed Jesse his electric guitar, Mike took out his bass and what followed was an impromptu set, guitar lesson, and jam session all rolled into one as Jesse and Mike played what had to be 3 hours of MxPx's music catalog.  They literally could have played all night if it wasn't for the fact that, you know--there was a wedding to prepare for and poor Mike was still exhausted and hadn't eaten a thing since arriving in Wisconsin, but he was such a good and humbled sport about the whole ordeal as he toughened it out for our entertainment--one of the most lax people I have ever met.  And really, as an entertainer, Mike knew that the show had to go on, even it was in a small room of just about 20 people watching.  As I would later learn, Mike takes his musical obligations very seriously.

Some of the highlights:

  • Announcing that he and MxPx were working on a new album (eventually being Plans Within Plans). 
  • Giving us an inside scoop of the current music scene.
  • Updating us on the band and its other members, Tom Wisniewski and Yuri Ruley, and how they're now providing and caring for their respective families.
  • How he continues to tour without the band with Tumbledown and the MxPx All-Stars
    • Basically, he explained how blessed he was for having the opportunity to perform for a living and will continue to tour and use his musical and songwriting talents.
  • Performing two song requests from me: "Begin to Start" and "Teenage Politics"
    • Mike tried setting me up to start doing the vocals for "Politics," but I forgot the words and choked.  The song was abruptly ended, understandably so.  
(Here's a video of my boy Jesse playing guitar and Mike playing bass.  The name of the song is "Heard that Sound" by MxPx.)

Yours Truly on the left.
Mike was definitely dressed for the occasion as well
(Personal Collection)
As mentioned before, Mike was there to do a one hour solo acoustic set before the wedding.  The one song that stuck out that he did play was "Final Slowdance," which I always thought was appropriate for events such as these.  A lot of people at the wedding who never heard of Mike or MxPx came out very impressed and quickly became fans.

Eventually, I did have, what proved to be a very long conversation with Mike.  After praising his work as a musician and thanking him for creating music that people like me can relate to--despite the fact that I am not a Christian and MxPx has always had the label of a Christian Band--we began having a conversation about stuff.  Lots and lots of stuff.  With respect to Mike, I was not conducting an interview and if I was somebody of importance, we would have been speaking "off the record," but I will try to tip-toe the major issues that were discussed over whiskey and tequila drinks.

  • Found out we have something in common: we both enjoy listening to Bad Religion
  • His close relationship with the bands Thursday and Strike Anywhere
  • What it means to be part of a band that has been labeled as a "Christian band." 
    • I shared with him, that despite not being a Christian myself, that I enjoy listening to bands like Emery and August Burns Red. Again, he reminded me that he likes Bad Religion.
  • How he and Chuck Ragan's acoustic music differ despite both coming from punk rock backgrounds. 
  • We discussed the pros and cons of technology on the music industry. He explained that there was more exposure, but getting paid as a musician was a lot harder to achieve despite Internet services claiming that they pay a percentage to musicians for letting them use their music for their streaming and downloading services (which is really not news as many bands can attest to this fact). 
    • In the August 2012 issue of Alternative Press, he had a more optimistic and detailed view about technology being used as a beneficial tool to succeed as a musician. 
  • The real highlight--Mike telling me that I have a place to crash the next time I visit Seattle, Washington. Don't know if he was serious or if I should take his invite with a grain of salt, but I considered it a small victory as annoying as I must have been with all my questions.  Plus it gives me another reason to go back to Seattle.  
  • Of course, was able to get his autograph. 
Mike proved to be a very cool, humbled, patient, guy who thankfully, takes his craft seriously.  He's gone through his ups and downs in 2012 (gear stolen in Vancouver), but continues to tour, all over the world--most recently, he went to Australia to play bass for Goldfinger. We at Pathological Hate continue to wish him lots of luck and I personally wish to thank him again for a very memorable wedding in late May. 

Great to meet you too, Mike!--Felipe M (Personal Collection)

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