MxPx 20th Anniversary Tour
I Am The Avalanche, Such Gold, Gasoline Heart
1003 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
This event is all ages
Since MxPx’s inception in 1992 in the blue-collar naval town of Bremerton, Washington, the trio—vocalist/bassist Mike Herrera, guitarist Tom Wisniewski and drummer Yuri Ruley—have been mainstays in both the pop-punk and punk-rock scenes thanks to a prolific back catalog and road-warrior mentality.
That youthful exuberance and appetite for success can be found all over Pokinatcha, the band’s 1994 Tooth & Nail Records debut release. Bursting with speedy, pit-ready anthems, the disc’s 21 tracks showcased a band with some serious punk-rock chops that still had a knack for melody. True to the band’s punk-rock roots and hard-charged work ethic, their follow-up album hit stores a mere 10 months later. Teenage Politics was the first to feature Wisniewski, who stepped in on guitar after Husted was asked to leave the band in 1994.
Shortly after the Teenage Politics sessions wrapped, the band returned to Seattle to record the aptly named On The Cover, marking MxPx’s first EP. The eight-song disc featured MxPx putting their trademark punk-rock spin on classics.
With the success of singles “Move To Bremerton” and “Chick Magnet,” their third T&N release, the seminal Life In General, is still today hailed by many as their definitive work. In 1997, the band signed to A&M Records and released Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo, in 1998, which went gold.
The band took a decidedly different turn for 2000’s The Ever Passing Moment, choosing to favor 1970s powerpop a la Elvis Costello instead of the double-time SoCal punk they grew up on, featuring lush harmonies, slower tempos and even a cameo from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl (“The Next Big Thing”). The album’s first single, “Responsibility,” gave the band another hit, peaking at No. 24 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart, and The Offspring hand-selected MxPx to open their fall 2000 tour.
The band’s emerging pop tendencies were fully realized on 2003’s Before Everything & After, their third effort for A&M. Featuring guest appearances from members of New Found Glory, Good Charlotte and The Ataris, Before Everything & After was stacked with potential radio-ready singles. The biggest feather in the band’s cap came when Diet Pepsi selected the track “Well Adjusted” for an ad that debuted during Super Bowl XXXVII.
MxPx left A&M in 2005, and soon thereafter reemerged on Southern California indie label SideOneDummy. The label issued Panic, the band’s seventh album, in 2005, and MxPx once again spent the summer on Vans Warped Tour with the likes of Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Relient K.
The group’s time on SideOneDummy was brief, and MxPx returned to Tooth & Nail Records, their original home, for 2007’s Secret Weapon, the band’s first studio album for Tooth & Nail in a decade.
The band also appeased fans in 2009 with a second installment of the popular On The Cover series—a collection of cover songs from artists like Descendents, U2 and The Go-Gos—as well as a special Christmas-themed collection, Punk Rawk Christmas, the same year.
When it came time to release new original music in 2009, the legendary punk-rock act took matters into their own hands. The band retreated to Herrera’s Bremerton studio, Monkey Trench, and the result, the Left Coast Punk EP, was classic MxPx. Marrying Herrera’s knack for strong melodies with the punk bite the band are known for, the album—which was released on the band’s Rock City Recordings label—was a short, snappy reminder that growing up doesn’t necessarily mean mellowing out.
In late 2010, nearing two decades of playing together, drummer Yuri Ruley questioned being in the band and performed what he thought would be his last performance as a full-time member of MxPx at Wasted Space in The Hard Rock Cafe, Las Vegas. At the same time, guitarist Tom Wisniewski turned in his part-time status as well, taking on a full-time job in Bremerton. Vegas provided more than a chance to reminisce about the past through their first full Life In General live set. The sold-out show helped rekindle the spark of creativity, reaffirming that Ruley and Wisniewski would continue with the band but would drastically scale back on touring.
In December 2011, MxPx released a music documentary, Both Ends Burning, which was directed by longtime fan and friend, Bryan Buchelt of Snaproll Studios. The film features footage from the band’s 2008 world tour all the way to the band’s sold-out Seattle show in March 2011. Ruley and Wisniewski have since remained members of the band and with Herrera, MxPx released their ninth full-length album, Plans Within Plans on April 3, 2012 within the U.S. and Canada through MRI/Rock City Recording Company.
In an industry with constant turnover flooded by flavors of the week and gimmicky artists looking to make a quick buck, it’s the ultimate accomplishment that MxPx have survived nearly two decades and still remain one of the pop-punk world’s most well-respected names.
I Am The Avalanche
Vinnie Caruana (vocals, guitar)
Brandon Swanson (guitar)
Kellen Robson (bass)
Michael Ireland (guitar)
Brett Romnes (drums)
Touring in a band can be eye-opening, engendering a greater sense of self and the world. In the six years Vinnie Caruana sang with The Movielife, he learned how to write songs, win over audiences and survive living with the same guys for months at a time. But it was the 18 months after The Movielife's 2003 breakup that prompted the greatest personal and creative growth.
"I went through some of the worst stuff I've ever had to deal with and some of the best stuff, too" Caruana says. "It really woke me up to a lot of things and it was humbling, too. The Movielife got off the stage in front of 3,000 kids, and then two days later I was working construction in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. So, my whole life and perspective changed dramatically."
When Caruana finally decided to play music again, he had plenty of material from which to draw. I Am The Avalanche, the self-titled debut by his new band, is energized, melodic, turbulent, scathing and vulnerable, reflecting the frustration, instability and hope of its creator and resonating with the twists and turns of an artist coming to grips with the situations he has faced and overcome.
"I wanted to write about the things that were really affecting me emotionally and were basically just killing me," Caruana says. "I had a huge, long amazing relationship with someone, who I pretty much thought I was gonna marry. Then that ended in the worst way possible. And, I had to deal with the really severe drug problems of some people, and that put a huge brand on me. But while I was away from music, I got to spend time with friends and family for the first time in years. And that was really great, so those kinds of beautiful feelings are on the new record, too."
Indeed, I Am The Avalanche covers a broad spectrum of sound and emotion. "Dead and Gone" features clawing guitars, bobbing bass lines and a dreamy, harmony-laden chorus, "Murderous" is colored with a reggae-tinged rhythm and an infectious power pop riff. "Green Eyes" starts with an aching guitar line wrapped around a bare vocal and evolves into a chugging rocker with an incredible refrain, and "I Took a Beating" is a fist-to-the-face track charged with attitude and anguish.
Lyrically, the album is equally powerful, addressing Caruana's most personal fears and dreams with the candor of a diary. "Dead and Gone," for instance, puts closure on his relationship with the girl he thought he'd spend the rest of his life with. "It starts out with me floating on the bottom of a swimming pool with my eyes open looking around for something," he says. "I'm on this quest to find the girl that hurt me so badly. I'm on a search to find the other her, the one I was so in love with because she's been gone for so long. And finally I figure out that she's dead and gone and that chapter of my life is over and I have to move on and get on with what I'm supposed to be doing, which is this band."
Then there's "New Disaster," the mission statement of a Murphy's law adherent who's always waiting for the floor to fall out. "I'm so used to disappointment that I'm always ready for it," he explains. "The song is about knowing a person so well and just waiting for them to ruin something else, just waiting for that next train wreck."
Caruana started writing songs for I Am The Avalanche on acoustic guitar after he moved from New York to San Francisco to work with Head Automatica. He entered the studio and cut a batch of demos last year, still unsure if he would use the songs in a new band. "I just think my vision was shot of what's good or even if what I'm doing is still relevant," he says. "So I played them for some friends and they were like, 'Dude, these are the best songs you've ever written.' So, that restored my confidence and when I moved back to New York, I decided to put a band together and do it for real."
He called ex-Further Seems Forever guitarist Brandon Swanson and convinced him to relocate to New York. Then he hired bassist Kellen Robson, who used to be in the Long Island hardcore band Scraps And Heart Attacks, with whom The Movielife once toured. Next came guitarist Michael Ireland, who Caruana met in Virginia Beach and eventually moved in with when Ireland moved to Brooklyn.
"He was a Movielife fan and we had met and kept in touch throughout the late 90s. When I saw him again, he came up to me and said, 'I just moved to Brooklyn and I definitely want to check out your new stuff,'" Caruana says. "So, I went to his place and there was an empty bedroom there. I had just moved out of my parents' house, so I moved in with Mike, and he was living with Brett, who turned out to be a drummer in a band called Reservoir. He filled in for us and after our first practice we were like, 'Dude, quit your other band, please. This is so, so good.' Fortunately, he did"
Caruana named the band I Am The Avalanche after one of the first lyrics he wrote for the group. Not only does the name sum up the tumbling vibe of the music, it represents the landslide effect the past two years have had on the singer. "When I was starting the band, I listed all of the things I was feeling at the time and all the things I felt I was," he says. "And one of the things I wrote was, 'I am an avalanche,' I was feeling like it was completely time for me to come back and write songs again and get all this stuff off my chest. I was completely overflowing and this stuff was just spilling out of me."
I Am The Avalanche flew to Seattle in April 2005 and spent a month working with producer Barrett Jones (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Melvins, Jesus Lizard). They recorded in three different studios and employed unconventional techniques that yielded stunning results. "Barrett made us turn down our amps all the way to the point where everyone could barely hear one another," Caruana says. "We usually practice on 11, so that was really different, but he did that so he could listen to the actual songs without any of the noise. Then, we sorted out a lot of the songs and made them better. I felt so lucky to be able to work with someone of Barrett's caliber."
Like most recording sessions, there were ups and downs -- moments of anxiety when it looked like the album might never get finished and periods of elation when everything was running like a new stock car engine. But the moment of reckoning came when the band finished its last bit of tracking and Barrett played a rough mix of the album through the studio soundboard.
"We got some lunch and listened to the whole thing for the first time, and we were just freaking out," Caruana says. "Some of our friends from Seattle were there hanging out with us and we were all so stoked. We were like, 'Holy shit, we just did that.' That's when I really knew that this was for real."
Such Gold is about sing-a-longs/gang chants, DIY house shows, pile-ons, rad friends, fast-beats, touring, and having good times with good people.
Come share a garbage plate and a Genny with us.
Gasoline Heart as we know it today was begun eight years ago when Defabrizio decided to strike out on his own, the rationale being that he couldn't get kicked out of his own band. Somehow along the way he became a sort of unwitting conduit for writing the kind of heart-on-sleeve song songs that you associate with masters of the form like Joe Strummer, J Mascis, and Eddie Vedder. And luckily, for those of us who hav...e had the chance to see it, he wasn't really content to belong to the school of Rock That Does Not Rock like many attempting to keep the bloated corpse of rock & roll animated. This is a dude who's life was changed by watching Guns 'N Roses on MTV, for God's sake. Talk about a road to Damascus moment, except this time God was saying "You can take anything you want, but you better not take it from me."
So they're a real band. Guitars, Bass, Drums. They play loud, drink til the sun comes up, and sit around wondering how it got so bright. With John Fortson (ex-Squad Five-0) on bass, Jeff Irizarry on drums, and epic road dog Erich Jackson on guitar, their shows are more like prime time Replacements or The Who than some kind of singer-songwriter stroll in the park. It's strangely thrilling to go see a rock & roll show these days that doesn't make you want to head to the bar or slit your wrists, but somehow this last gang delivers it. Again, against the odds set by that great rock bookie in the sky, here is a guy that actually becomes his best self on stage, who can make you laugh, cry, or sing out loud because you know he believes in what he's doing, and you'll be damned right along with the rest of humanity if he doesn't end up making you believe it too.