Interview with Thomas Edmund Wisniewski

By Yuya Saito

It has been almost 12 years since MxPx became a band.

The members of MxPx were young back then. They are still young now.
It has been a long journey for the trio from a Bremerton, a small Navy town in Washington. A lot has changed since they were 15-years-olds. They have all matured. They have all gotten married. They even made a TV commercial for a popular soda pop.

But they are still going strong and nurturing their love of California Punk.
Their experience and youth are a good mix; Good enough to give them confidence enough to throw the unexpected to their fans.

The trio has done well with their talents, as demonstrated by Everything Before & After, the third album released by A&M. It is radio-friendly pop, yet their edge still remains strong with intense guitar strumming and fills from guitarist Tom Wisniewski.

As it states in the title, it is everything that they have done before, and (somehow?) it is everything they will do in the future.

In a greenroom backstage at the House of Blues is where Smash Magazine met with Tom Wisniewski, guitarist /singer of MxPx to talk about the band, the album, his personal life and their tour with three great bands: Simple Plan, Sugarcult and Billy Talent.

SM: Do you have any interesting stories from Vegas?
Tom Wisniewski: I won about $800 on Craps one time, and I went out and bought a guitar that I used for most of the year on recording and stuff. Caesar’s Palace bought me a guitar. That was pretty nice.

SM: What do think of this tour so far?
TM: Oh, this tour is great. We’ve got four great bands together. I mean when we put this thing together, there was Simple Plan, then we had to get a really cool support band, so I was like “we’ve got to get Sugarcult.”

SM: What does MxPx stand for?
TW: The original name of the band was Magnified Plaid as in like really big plaid. We were young. It’s kind of a dumb band name. “X’s” instead of periods for abbreviation. That’s the gist of it. Now we are stuck with it.

SM: Where does the logo come from? (The kid logo)
TW: For the first record, Mike was talking to this graphic artist when he was doing the artwork. He said we want like a little punk dude on the front cover, like cartoon punk guy, so he drew one version, and he was really angry and mean looking. Mike was like “No goofy cartoon looking.” You know, an oversized head or something. That’s how that guy came about.

SM: What have the past 11 years as MxPx been like?
TW: It’s almost 12 now. It’s been great. I mean we’ve just had a great time traveling around countries in the world more times than I could remember.

SM: What do you hope to do for the next 10 years?
TW: I hope we keep doing it, keep going around the world and playing more shows and having a great time. I’m enjoying this. I don’t want to stop.

SM: When did you start playing your instrument?
TW: Maybe about a year or so before I was in the band. I got a little acoustic and was just kind of figuring out like Green Day’s songs in my bedroom. One day they were looking for another guitarist. I was the one they thought would be dependable.

SM: What were some of your favorite bands when you started to play?
TW: Definitely, Descendants and All. Those are huge influences on us.

SM: Which band convinced you that Punk music is your music?
TW: Definitely, Descendants.

SM: What was the first impression of Descendants?
TW: A friend of mine let me borrow “Livage”. It’s one of their live records. I just remember listening to it. It was kind like wow, it’s intense and it’s fast. It’s blowing right through one song to another and just great songs. It really grabbed me right away. I had songs stuck in my head afterward.

SM: What are your some of the favorite bands now?
TW: I love The Clash and Elvis Costello. As far as young bands, I really like Thrice.

SM: Besides punk, what kind of music do you like?
TW: I like some heavier kind of metal stuff, and I like a bunch of country stuff. I like a lot of hip hop. A good song is a good song to me.

SM: Who is your favorite hip hop artist?
TW: I think Ludacris probably. He is really funny, and he is really good at what he does. I like Outkast and Eminem too.

SM: What are you usually doing before the concert?
TW: We are going to have a sound check and stuff. About an hour before the show, we get together and we play acoustic guitars and sing to stretch out and stuff. Be ready to play, you know. You can’t just jump straight into it. You’ll hurt yourself.

SM: What was it like to be in a TV commercial?
TW: It was cool. It was actually really fun. We flew down to L.A. and shot for two days. When it was on TV all the time, me and my wife would be sitting and watching The Simpsons or something, and our commercial would come on. It was cool. It debuted on the Super Bowl too, so that was a big deal for my parents. It was a cool thing, and I’d do it again.

SM: How do you spend your spare time?
TW: When I am at home usually, you know, hang out with my wife, go over to Seattle and hang out with some friends. I’ve got an old car, and I work on that a lot.

SM: What kind of car is it?
TW: It’s a 1964 Chevy Malibu Supersport. It’s pretty original. I’m doing a little bit work on the engine, just making it a little stronger.

SM: In “Everything Before & After” there are many new elements in both lyrics and music. What was going on when you guys were recording it?
TW: We wanted to go into it, and not do the same thing we’ve done before. We wanted to kind of change things up a little bit by adding different kinds of songs and sounds. I think that definitely helped. We tried to have more variety to our record.

SM: How did you get the guests on this album like Kris Roe from The Ataris and Benji Maddan from Good Charlotte?
TW: They are just friends of ours. We were recording in L.A. and Kris lives in L.A., Benji was passing through on tour, Jordan from New Found, he lives down there. We were like "we are going to have friends sing for us."

SM: It seems like the punk music’s ethos is leaning towards a political message like NOFX's latest effort "War on Errorism," and with Pennywise on two of their recent releases, what is your opinion on this?
TW: That’s definitely always has been a punk rock thing. We are not that political of a band really. We’ve never used our songs as a political weapon.

SM: Do you think you are ever going to use your music as a political weapon?
TW: Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. There is no plan or anything like that.

SM: Which do you like to do the most, touring or recording?
TW: They are both equal. I like the shows, because of the immediate impact, but it’s really fun to be in the studio too. Have fresh ideas and see if they work, and try to get different sounds to see if that works with the song.

SM: Is there any thing you would like to add?
TW: We are going to be doing lots of touring. Keep your eyes out for us to come back through.

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