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Fathers of punk rock prove their paternity

Rebecca Saunders | Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Any and every punk rock fan has, at the very least, heard of MXPX, if they haven’t grown up on them and their music. Credited by many as the creators of modern punk rock, the Christian band has been around for over 10 years. Although the Christian influence is less obvious in their eleventh album, Before Everything, & After, it remains very strong on a metaphorical and, at times, literal level. The album is also a bit heavier rock than much of their previous work, but is better for it.

MXPX is a three-piece band originally and currently based in Washington state. The band is composed of Mike Herrera on vocals and bass guitar, Tom Wisniewski on vocals and guitar, and Yuri Ruley on drums. Currently successful bands such as Good Charlotte credit their original interest in punk rock to MXPX, one of their musical heroes. MXPX does not disappoint in their new and probably best album as of yet, Before Everything & After. The album consists mainly of songs about girls, God and rock-n-roll, in essence “everything,” all set to heavy guitars with catchy beats and strong drum rhythms.

The progression of the album follows the title, Before Everything & After. The first track “Before” leads off with a few excerpts of songs on the album, this is followed by two songs with “everything” in their titles, as well as songs that cover everything in subject. The sixteenth and final track, “After,” finishes the album in a similar way in which it began. All of this is more than a marketing ploy or artistic decision; it also symbolically shows the progression of the band MXPX itself. After being together for 10 years and releasing 11 albums with multiple hits, the band still remains true to its punk rock origins.

Many of the songs on the album cover the history of the band, revealing the lessons the members have learned over the last 10 years. “Play it Loud”, one of the most upbeat tracks on the record, exposes the philosophy of MXPX as they sing, “We don’t need bright lights to spell our name / all we ever wanted was to play.” MXPX has been on the verge of Christian and secular rock for most of their career and have been the inspiration for bands whose success has doubled that of their own, but they make it clear that they don’t need the success, they are in it for the music. As the song continues, they warn of the music world and the larger metaphor of the world at large, “Hold fast to your friends / Be true to yourself / and stop trying to be just like somebody else / Be yourself, play it loud.” “Play it Loud” is one of the many heavier rock songs on the album, grouped with “It’s Alright,” “First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” “More Everything” and “You Make Me, Me.”

Many of the songs are slightly more on the punk side with softer rock beats. One of the best on the album is “Broken Hearted,” an immensely upbeat song that listeners can’t help but move with. The quick and strong rhythm of the drums and the light and distinct guitar along with catchy lyrics makes for an incredible song.

Overall, the album is terrific and is one that deserves a much more extensive review. The sound of the overall album is mature punk rock that is musically and lyrically developed to a level that other punk bands have not yet reached. As the “fathers of punk rock” MXPX does not disappoint in Before Everything & After.

Contact Rebecca Saunders at rsaunder@nd.edu