Don’t know what MxPx stands for? Well, that means one of two things: you’re not a fan or you’re not looking hard enough. Either way, don’t ask Mike, Tom or Yuri – they’ve been asked the question thousands of times. Instead, save your breath for something like “You guys rock” or “One-more-song” chants because the Bremerton, Wash. trio is making its way down to Cal Poly’s Recreation Center tomorrow.
Promoting their newest album “Panic,” which hit stores over the summer, bassist and lead singer Mike Herrera, guitarist Tom Wiseniewski and drummer Yuri Ruley have been on the road since early October for their “Panic with a K Tour” accompanied by Relient K and Rufio.
“I’ve been looking forward to this tour since the beginning of (the) Warped Tour,” he said. “The shows have been awesome and obviously, it’s been fun to hang out with Relient K and Rufio.”
It’s particularly weird – a good weird – for MxPx to share the stage with Ohio band Relient K.
“The guys from Relient K, they’ve been fans of our band for a really long time so it’s kind of funny. They’ll ask us questions like, ‘Hey man, I don’t mean to bug you, but -‘ And it’ll be questions that they’ve always wanted answers to for a long time,” Ruley said, laughing. “It’s an interesting position to be when you’re not even 30 years old and there’s people that are like, ‘Ah man, you guys are so great.'”
Then again, after nearly 14 years as a band, co-headlining with fans-turned-tour-buddies who remember listening to “Chick Magnet” and “Responsibility” during fourth period was bound to happen.
But concert-goers be warned: the band’s age is just a number.
Ruley, who mentioned MxPx just passed its “13th birthday,” said that though they’ve played numerous concerts – big and small – the band always strives to mix things up. So one thing’s for sure, MxPx is expecting fans to scream, sing and scream some more.
“We’ve incorporated a lot more audience participation through some of our ‘classic’ songs so there’s a couple of parts in the set that’s heavily dependent upon the audience,” he said. “The crowd can kind of make or break (the concert).”
And throughout the tour, Ruley said this technique has paid off.
“People have come up to us after shows and tell us ‘It’s so awesome’ and that it makes a big difference. And it really does because you don’t want to go to a show where you’re basically listening to a CD live and have the guys in the band never say a word. You want to fell some personal interaction,” he said. “And we’ve always done that, but I think we’re just understanding how much more important it is now that it ever has been for us.”
As Ruley explained, “Panic” is comparable to the band’s older albums such as “Life in General” (1997, Tooth and Nail) and “Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo” (1998, Tooth and Nail).
“Basically, we kind of went back to the way we used to make records, which was really fast – get in the studio, with the songs pretty much done and just get some good tones out of the instruments and go,” Ruley said. “Before, on some of our records, we’d spend months and months making them and after a while that becomes a drag … You lose sight of the end product, you just get lost in trying to make this perfect pop record.”
So for MxPx, it was all about going back to the basics. For instance, Ruley said there were a couple of songs that were literally written and recorded on the spot.
” A couple of the songs that were harder, and where it was appropriate, like ‘Get Me Out’ and ‘The Darkest Places,’ those were banged out in one shot,” Ruley said.
The band even experimented with its recording style.
“With the song ‘Get Me Out,’ Mike had this cheap mic that he just held in his hand – (so) the mic kinda popped and the vocals had differing volumes,” he said.
Ruley admitted, however, that the band dubbed extra tracks on a few of their more poppy songs like “Wrecking Hotel Rooms,” but emphasized they didn’t do anything outrageous.
“The cool thing about doing a record that way, when you go to play the songs live, they’re very natural,” he said. “In the past, songs where we did a lot of extra stuff on it and then tried to incorporate that in a live set, it was kinda awkward – With ‘Panic’ it’s very natural; the songs are easy to translate live, which is cool.”
Speaking of translation, however, Ruley said listeners shouldn’t expect to find any answers in many of the songs on “Panic.”
“I think we’re living in a time right now where people are asking a lot of questions like, ‘What is going on with the world right now?’ in terms of politics (and) the war. So I think it was really easy to draw from the world climate politically right now and in the last couple of years,” Ruley said. “There are a lot of songs that ask, ‘What happens? What do we do with the lives that we’re given?’And a lot of the questions just go unanswered.”
What can be answered, however, is what diehard fans are wondering: Will year 14 be MxPx’s last?
“I don’t think so,” he said. “We’ve been doing it so long it’s hard to think of ‘the end.’ I mean, it’ll come some day, but right now we’re really just focusing on getting out and getting this record heard around the world – That’s what we are, a live band – we just like to get out and play.”