DFW Music News

Q&A + Bonus MP3: Mike Herrera of Tumbledown (and MxPx) Talks Going Country, Covering His Own Songs and The Current Debate on Immigration.

Mike Herrera is best known as the vocalist and bassist for MxPx, a punk rock act from Bremerton, Washington, that gained a substantial following in the mid-'90s.

Although each member of MxPx was a Christian, the band never identified itself as a Christian punk band, and, after eight solid efforts of pop-infused punk, Herrera decided to mine an early country influence and form a new band, Tumbledown. Named after a phrase in a song by Woody Guthrie, Tumbledown has released two albums of punk-infused roots music.

We recently caught up with Herrera in advance of his new band's gig tomorrow nightat Lochrann's in Frisco and on Sunday at the Double Wide. Speaking from his home in upper Washington state, Herrera was happy to discuss his new band's direction as well as the future of MxPx.

Oh and for kicks, he passed along a special Tumbledown track for DC9 readers to grab as a free download. Check out "Sunny in Dallas," as well as our Q&A with Herrera, after the jump.

Bonus mp3:

Mike Herrera's Tumbledown -- "Sunny in Dallas"

Mike Herrera's Tumbledown -- "Sunny in Dallas"

Why did you decide to go from playing poppy punk to country?
Well, these things happen naturally. I was listening to a lot of country music lately. I've always liked country. I think the first song I ever learned to sing was Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again." When I write punk songs, I do it on an acoustic guitar, so it was just a natural progression to write more folk type songs. Plus, in Tumbledown, we have a stand up bass and a fiddle player, so the music naturally coalesces around what I am now writing.

Don't country music and punk share some common themes -- both in composition as well as in lyrics?
Definitely. The songs, you just have to change the riffs up a little bit. Obviously, there are a lot of country and punk bands that sing about drinking. There are a lot of other connections as well.

In Tumbledown, you cover several MxPx songs. Does the fact that those songs translate so well into this other style speak to the inherent quality of the songs themselves?
I am going to let you speak to that. I don't want to toot my own horn. I am not some virtuoso that's writing a symphony. I write simple, catchy songs that people can latch on to. The cool thing about that is you can't mess up the feel or the vibe plugging in different instruments. I think the songs are versatile.

What's the genesis of the song "Sunny in Dallas"?
That was from our first EP. My wife was born in Fort Worth and she grew up in Dallas. When we were dating, I wrote that song for her. Then she moved out to the west coast because of that song. Her name is not Sunny. It was just a nickname.

Are you comfortable with Tumbledown being described as an alt-country band?
It's probably something that people who don't know a lot about our music would probably categorize us as. I don't care what people call us as long as they listen and have a good time. I like to make up my own names for what we are -- things like punk and western. We have a lot of punk elements and I think alt-country stuff is a little more slowed down, kind of mellow.

Tumbledown has just released its second album. Will there be another MxPx record?
I think eventually. Tumbledown is becoming more of a full-time band. I think MxPx will have another record, but I have to sit down and write it. I am so busy with Tumbledown that all I can think about is touring with this band. When the time is right, MxPx will make another record. We are still a band. We're just not full time.

In the past, you have gone out of your way to distance MxPx from the Christian punk label. Is Christian punk a contradiction in terms?
It can be if you get caught up in the ideology. There are people who are against the establishment yet they still consider themselves Christians. I don't think punk and Christianity are mutually exclusive. When MxPx were on Tooth and Nail Records, there were a lot of bands on the label who were considered part of the Christian punk genre and we kind of got caught up in that.

Being of Mexican descent, what do you think of the current debate on immigration?
It's a really weird situation. I am more liberal in my politics. I don't think liberals have all the answers, of course, but my main thing is that government should be about providing services. If you are going to have a government, I don't see why we have a problem taking care of people in general. Everyone is so concerned about paying for other people when we already do it all of the time. There are subsidies for everything. You have three more kids and you get more tax breaks. That doesn't make much sense to me because I don't have kids, but it is all a part of helping people get by. I just want people not to be so polarized. But that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Tumbledown play at Lochrann's Irish Pub on Saturday and The Doublewide on Sunday.