(TCFS, Summer 2002)
It was one of the hottest days of the year. Simi and I had been in the car over an hour and had just hit the traffic at the entrance to the 2002 Warped Tour. It was then that we were rear ended.
Lucky for us (and the guy who hit us) that there wasn’t any real damage done to either one of our cars. After a quick bumper check we managed to make it to the phenominon known as Warped.
After taking in the skaters, a few bands, and the variety of merchant and record label tents, we made it to the backstage area where we were able to sit down and chat with Yuri, the drummer for one of Simi’s all time favorite bands, MXPX.
CF – How the tour is going so far.
YURI – Yesterday in Columbus was so muggy it was disgusting. you just walk outside and start sweating and stuff. But today I kinda like it being a little hotter, less muggy. That’s nice. But it’s been really good. The shows have been really, really good .
We haven’t been on tour… well since September basically. We went on a short western United States tour. We always do every other warped tour as well, that’s just the way we’ve done it. It’s pretty cool because the fans are still there for us. They’re still excited and making us feel like we’re a halfway descent band playing a halfway descent show.
CF – What are the bands that stood out to you on this year’s WARPED Tour? Any bands that everybody else should be looking for?
YURI – There’s a band that I have been getting into on this tour. They’re called Hot Water Music from Gainesville. I’ve heard of them before, but never really got into them. It’s not really my type of music at all, but I think they are an amazing band.
Of course Andrew W. K. is on the show today. So were excited to see him although we play right before him. I think the stages are on the opposite sides so we may miss him.
CF – Are you still on Tooth and Nail?
YURI – Actually we are on A&M. This last release, “Ten Years and Running” was on Tooth and Nail because of contractual reasons. They were obligated to put out another sort of compilation. CF – How did you like Tooth and Nail? YURI – At first it was good. They gave us are first opportunity and we were really buddies with the guys. It was a lot of fun. They lived across the water from us so we were always hanging out with them. But then we figured out the contract that we signed with them was really unfair. So we went to them and said “Hey, we’d like to get this fixed it seems like this is totally slanted in your favor.” And they said “Hmm… I don’t think that’s gonna happen”
So from then on the relationship went sour for about five years. Just recently we got our things figured out legally and on a friendship level. We are getting along with them.
CF – I’ve heard similar things from other bands that used to be on the lable.
YURI – I don’t think that there is any band on that label that doesn’t know that they are totally getting the shaft. Sometimes it’s the only option.
CF – When you were on Tooth and Nail you were always known as a Christian Band. What makes a band a “Christian Band”?
YURI – Well, I think it’s different. I think that there is sort of different opinions about that. I guess we sort of got in that market because of Tooth and Nail. We were Christians. We are Christians. But we just play in a punk rock band. We never preached on stage. We never handed out tracts at our shows. We just didn’t even know that was something you did. We were just a regular band.
When we were signed on Tooth and Nail, they were booking us pretty much so we were playing churches and those type of venues. That’s when we realized that there are a lot of expectations on a band if they are Christian, because you have to preach and all this crap. We just said no, that’s not us.
Were not going to lie and say no were not Christian and we’re ashamed, but we just didn’t want to change for people. So we got sort of black balled in a way and a lot of fans kind of like freaked out because in an interview we said you know we’re not a Christian band…
We’re Christians.We play in a band. But we’re not a Christian band. Some people were like “What? You lied to us all this time.” But for us what we believe is what we believe. That’s what we’ve come to in life, that is where our lives have led us. But we’re not up there to push that. Some of that comes out in our songs. Because we are Christian, but it is not like a big preachy mission type thing some of the bands do. That’s cool with them, but it’s not for us.
CF – Be who you are.
YURI – Yes.
CF – How do you like A&M?
YURI – A&M was excellent when they first signed. It seemed like they were still interested in building bands that were unheard of. Now it seems like they are interested only in groups that they can build.
We already had a descent fan base and we were kind of more old school. You know like doing it on your own and the label helped you out and did what they could.
However A&M and some other companies were bought out by Interscope. And their deal is “where’s the hit”. So we signed with A&M with certain people, certain ethics and certain plans and they sort of went bye-bye. We’re still on A&M, but it’s not necessarily the label we signed with. So were not particularly happy with the label at the moment, but were trying to make it work.
CF – I know when you were starting out you were probably like any other punk band. Did you ever think you’d be making a living at playing music?
YURI – That was the hope, but when we started it was right before high school. When I first started playing drums I talked to my first drum teacher. He was like “What do you want to do? Why do you want to play drums? Do you want to be like Metallica or something making a living playing drums?”
I said ” Yeah that’d be cool”
And he said, “Well, it’s not gonna happen man.”
Whatever, I just wanted to play drums. My parents said do what you love, but be sure you have something to fall back on. And for a while there it was really pushing whether this was going fly or not. I was worried that I was going to be a loser for a couple of years while I was trying to save money for college. But luckily we started toYuring and making enough money to support ourselves right when we graduated high school.
So it has been a dream come true getting to do this for a living. It’s been hard at times but I guess it’s like that with any sort of lifestyle choice where you choose to give a hundred percent of yourself.
CF – Are you surprised at how popular it’s become, because it seems like a lot of bands started out in the early 90′s are big right now?
YURI – Yeah, for sure. When we started punk rock was pretty underground still. It was obviously gaining popularity because we were just kids from a small town but it had gotten to us. Nirvana was huge and Soundgarden, but when Green Day hit it was boom. It opened up doors for so many bands.
CF – So what’s next for you guys? I mean after the tour.
YURI – After the tour we’re going to get in the studio and start making our next record. We’re super excited. It’s been a long time. The last full length we did was 1999. We’ve done a couple other releases since then, an EP and the beginning of 2001, but we did that ourselves in our studio.
This is going to be the first time in awhile we get to work with a real producer. We’re really excited. We’ve been really picky with producers we want to like get someone that’s going to care about the songs and push us to write other songs. We’re excited and we’re hoping that this will be a record that will push us into another level of success and opportunity.