The three-piece punk outfit should be used to roughing it on tour. Since graduating from high school in 1995, the members of MxPx have traversed the continent several times, slowly building a solid fanbase their own way -- by using the early punk mentality of music before commercialism with a heavy dose of DIY.
Herrera, guitarist Tom Wisniewski and drummer Yuri Ruley have been able to tread their own path to success without giving in to the music industry machine. In the band's relatively short career, MxPx has released four albums, sold a few hundred thousand copies and toured Europe and the U.S., including some 10 headlining tours.
Now, with the support of a major label in A&M Records, MxPx is riding the success of its current release, Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo, and is in the midst of a headlining tour of the States.
Born among the 40,000 inhabitants of Bremerton, Wash., Herrera and crew grasped the DIY method to launch MxPx during the summer before their sophomore year. "We promoted our own shows all the time, made our own fliers, advertised and everything," Herrera said. "I don't know how hard it is right now in my town to start promoting shows but back then, it seemed to be pretty easy, there were places to play."
Through relentless weekend touring, the group's fanbase began to expand, gradually seeping into outlying markets such as Seattle. Word of mouth from the band's gigs led Christian-label Tooth and Nail Records to MxPx's front door. The band signed with the religious label, but Herrera says MxPx is "open for interpretation."
"We had never heard of [Tooth and Nail] or anything. It was kind of like, 'Wow, somebody wants to put out our music,'" Herrera said. "We were just trying to get shows in Seattle and stuff. So, it was like one huge step for us that we weren't even planning on -- but grateful for it."
From the area's gigs, the band met Seattle-based concert promoter Creighton Burke, who would soon become the group's first and only manager. "We started asking him questions about certain things," Herrera said. "It kind of started out that way, as a consultant kind of thing, that he knew and we didn't. So, after a while, we knew we were going to need a manager so we asked him. Ever since then, he's been runnin' full speed -- and so have we."
The release of MxPx's Tooth and Nail debut, Pokinatcha, marked the onset of the members' senior year in high school. During spring break, while most kids were taking it easy, the band recorded its second album, Teenage Politics. "We were kind of busy our senior year. We would fly out on weekends sometimes or drive out to Vancouver (British Columbia) or Portland (Oregon) and do shows," Herrera said. "School was definitely secondary."
On the Monday following graduation, MxPx headed out on its first national tour -- without any record label support. "[Tooth and Nail] just paid for our records. We did everything ourselves pretty much," Herrera said. "We had our van and just cruised around. Like the first tour, we didn't even have a trailer and that was really hard because we were bustin' out of the seams; we had so much stuff and people. It was crazy."
Several tours and an album later, MxPx scored a national hit with "Chick Magnet" from the album Life In General. The video was quickly accepted by MTV viewers while radio stations across the country played the tune. The band was now craving something more.
After a tour opening for A&M act Face to Face, label exec Larry Weintraub caught wind of MxPx. "He started coming out watching us play and I guess he liked it," Herrera said. "We didn't even really know him. We just thought, 'Eh, it's this guy,' you know. We didn't really think he was scouting us. That's us being naive."
Subsequently, in August of last year, MxPx signed with A&M. "We wanted somebody that understood where we were coming from and understood where we wanted to go. A lot of other labels just wanted to do their own thing with us," Herrera said. "A&M was kind of into our ideas and not just their own ideas."
Since the recent release of Slowly..., MxPx has solidified its position within the world of modern-day punk. "Every tour has been better and better," Herrera said. "We get more people coming out to our shows and every album we put out sells a bit more."
MxPx is on the road into late November, headlining clubs and theatres across the country. The tour will be a change of pace for the trio, which has been spoiled by the 30-minute sets on the Warped outing. "We've just got to get back on the horse as far as playing like an hour and 10 minutes or whatever," Herrera said.
With years of hard work behind them, the members of MxPx still realize the many more years of hard work over the horizon. "That's kind of our work ethic: The harder you work, hopefully, the more success you will have."