There was a time when pop punk trio MxPx toured constantly, and hit Dallas on every go-round. Whether it was Deep Ellum Live or Trees, the gaps between shows were short. But these days the Washington-based band doesn't tour at all, instead opting to restrict their travel to weekends and visit a new destination every few months. This weekend it's Dallas.
MxPx will play Mexico and Japan later this year, but why did they choose Trees for a two-night stand on Friday and Saturday?
“Dallas has always been my second home,” vocalist/bassist/songwriter Mike Herrera says. “It’s like I’ve lived a life there.” Aside from playing shows here with MxPx and his other, country-influenced band Tumbledown, he's also made friends and added ink to his body at local tattoo shops.
Herrera remembers how strong the response here was to MxPx during their first tour in the summer of 1995. They played a Christian venue, God’s Place International in Arlington, and Herrera says people came from all over to hear tunes from their first two albums, Pokinatcha and Teenage Politics. He certainly remembers the weather here. Coming from their homebase of Bremerton, Washington, a place like Texas has always been an adjustment.
“The heat just knocks you down,” he says.
Weather notwithstanding, there is one place in Dallas that is particularly special to Herrera: Deep Ellum Live. He saw one of his favorite bands of all time, the Descendents, play there during their comeback tour the night before he left on his own tour with MxPX. So when he played the venue a couple of years later, it was an honor. Herrera compared the venue to the Fillmore East in San Francisco.
“[The Descendents] made Deep Ellum Live special for us,” Herrera says. He was elated when informed that the venue, which closed in '04, will reopen this year thanks to Clint and Whitney Barlow. The Barlows were also responsible for the rebirths of Trees and The Bomb Factory.
After their God's Place International show, MxPx continued to tour and record, producing seven more albums, the most recent in 2012. They came close to superstardom but never quite made it. While their spark never extinguished and they continued to deliver for their fans, MxPx ultimately decided to change their touring approach to better accommodate their pocketbooks and families at home.
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Herrera keeps himself busy writing songs, producing bands in his studio and recording his podcast, Mike Herrera Hour. Guitarist Tom Wisniewski and drummer Yuri Ruley work at a shipyard in Bremerton as a manager and an electrician, respectively. Although not as glamorous as relying on music to pay the bills, MxPx enjoy living a more normal existence when they're not in band mode. Wisniewski’s and Ruley’s jobs are also flexible enough that they can still make trips to perform.
Since the shows are more sporadic than they used to be, MxPx makes these shows into events. The two Dallas dates will have different set lists. “Do the weekends and pack the places,” Herrera says of the band’s mentality now. Plus, they understand that a lot of people who were teenagers when Teenage Politics and Life in General were released aren’t single and childless in their mid-30s. Weekends are the best time for shows for the band, as well as the fans coming out to the shows.
Although their last proper studio album came out five years ago, MxPx have continued to work on new material, as well as release a Christmas single each year. Herrera promises there’s “at least one more MxPx record” in them, but there’s no plan as to when that will arrive. For as long as there are people who want one, there will be another MxPx record. And certainly more MxPx shows.
MxPx plays with Slick Shoes at Trees, 2709 Elm St., on Friday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb. 18. Tickets are $24 to $40 at treesdallas.org.