Reflecting on the legacy of MxPx with Mike Herrera

By markheybo from UK - mxpx at Greenbelt2008, CC BY 2.0,

I sit waiting for a call from Bremerton, Washington – a small town outside of Seattle, and home to Pop-Punk legends MxPx. I’m about to interview Mike Herrera, singer/songwriter/bassist of MxPx, bassist of Goldfinger and host of podcast TheMikeHerreraHour.

When Mike calls fifteen minutes late, he asks me to call him back, as he is calling long distance. After returning from a successful tour in Japan I thought he could handle the bill, but I did as he asked.

When he picks up he greets me with a “May the fourth be with you,” which I’m immediately disappointed by.

Jumping right in, I ask his biggest accomplishment of the last 25 years.

“I think it’s the resurgence of our popularity starting in 2015. After declining for a bit we’re now selling out shows again and playing bigger festivals. That’s our biggest accomplishment: not dying.”

I ask which album he feels is his best work.

“Listening to each album, I always wonder ‘what could I have done better.’ Overall either Secret Weapon (2010) or Life In General (1996). With Secret Weapon I feel like as a songwriter, I had a chance to grow, was more well rounded, and knew more what I wanted to say. Life In General is the first album I nailed a cohesive sound songwriting-wise and when we really learned to play our instruments.”

On his songwriting process, Mike says, “I try to come up with progressive, fun ideas. MxPx really has two different styles of songs. One being poppy, upbeat, ‘fun’ songs. Then we have more aggressive skate punk stuff- kind of a Bad Religion sound but with my vocals. The main thing is a good hook, something catchy and having the lyrics saying something.”

I’m curious to know which artists and bands he’s listening to and influenced by currently.

“Not a whole lot lately to be honest. I listen to a lot of podcasts that talk about music and the ideas and process behind writing. I will blast R&B and hip hop when I am working out. I am down with the latest top 40 hits, some of them. It helps me write a melodic punk rock sound that is still current with today.”

I ask him about his role as bass player of Goldfinger and how he got the gig.

“Feldy (John Feldman) tried to get a hold of me, and just texted one day saying, ‘I would love to have you play bass for Goldfinger, we are going to Australia’.”

His favourite NOFX album?

“White Trash, 2 Heebs and a Bean.”

I ask him how many StingRays (Ernie Ball Bass Guitar’s) he has. Which is his favourite and why?

“I have about 20 StingRays,” he tells me. “The turquoise is my favourite. It plays perfect and I love the feel.”

I ask a couple more. I’ve been a fan of his for years, and I may have gotten too comfortable with talking to him like we were old friends. I get the sense my barrage of questions are making him antsy to bail. He says he has to go.
One last question. I want to know what it’s like to look back on 25 years of being a musician.

“It’s wild to think that I’m still doing music- all the craziness of pop culture, the ups and downs, the financial market, politics – through all of that, the core message is still there, and the reason we started doing it: we love to play music together. I’m very proud to be here.”