MIKE HERRERA, MXPX, Vocals, Bass (on-stage): Hey, what's going on? We're MXPX from Bremerton, Washington! (In interview) When we started out, we wanted to be like punk rock and stuff, but we just weren't good enough, really. So I guess it was punk rock, but it was slow, 'cause we were like, uhhh.
YURI RULEY, MXPX, Drums: We were all learning together.
HERRERA: Yuri didn't know how to play fast or anything.
MTV: MXPX may have been a little slow in the beginning, but they also had an unusual distinction: a devotion both to punk rock and to the strong Christian faith they sometimes sing about in their songs ["Want Ad" video clip, 1MB QuickTime]. It didn't take long for word of mouth and a demo-tape to reach an executive at independent Christian rock label, Tooth & Nail Records.
HERRERA: He came out to our garage actually and watched us practice and he was into it, I don't know why 'cause
we were really bad, and so he signed us for like a of couple records.
MTV: But three albums, two EP's and one new guitarist later, the members of MXPX began to question the record deal they had signed while still juniors in high school.
HERRERA: We realized from talking to other people in bands that had their record contracts and their experiences with it, that some things weren't quite right with ours, so we really wanted to see some things change.
LARRY WEINTRAUB, VP of A&R, A&M Records: I learned about the band because the manager of the band Face To Face, another band that I work with, sent me their CD and said,"You've got to hear this CD. This band is amazing."
MTV: In July, MXPX signed with a major label, A&M Records, which decided to launch their relationship by simply re-releasing the band's latest Tooth & Nail album, "Life In General" -- a record containing very few religious references. Next, A&M re-released the album's decidedly
secular single, "Chick Magnet."
WEINTRAUB: Tooth & Nail tried to do as much as they could. I think they did a fantastic job, and we just said let's see if we can take it to the next level.
MTV: Despite the cooperative nature of this move to the big time, MXPX's departure from Tooth & Nail has soured some longtime friendships.
BILL POWERS, Tooth & Nail Records: I'd be lying if I said that things weren't tense, and didn't get weird, somewhere along the line. I mean, there was a certain point where we were told we weren't even allowed to talk to the band anymore, and that obviously strained communications between us and that made things kind of weird.
MTV: But a sticky business deal isn't the only adversity facing MXPX these days.
FAN: I think that a lot of people, they hear about MXPX signing with a secular label, and I think a lot of people sense that they're drifting away from their relationship with God.
FAN 2: If they're
going to start out as a Christian band, then they should just stick to what they believe, and just do it for Christ.
TOM WISNIEWSKI, MXPX, Guitar: We don't really consider ourselves a Christian rock band, we just consider ourselves a band.
HERRERA: I think a lot of people expect things from us they shouldn't necessarily.
FAN 3: We're just kind of disappointed that they've kind of gone away from being really really on it for Jesus. We're lookin' for people who are just on fire for Jesus.
FAN 4: I think that they [Fan 3 and other fans who are disappointed in MXPX's switch to a secular label] are completely ignorant and I completely disagree. Did they ever say anything about being a Christian band?
FAN 3: I don't know that.
FAN 4: Then what are you sitting here on MTV saying that they were?
FAN 3: Do you know Jesus?
FAN 4: Dude. I don't have to answer that. It's none of your business. I've just had enough of people like you,
religious people that... You know what? You're making a fool of the whole belief in Christianity on TV right now.
FAN 5, (pushing her way through the crowd which has gathered around the arguers): It matters where your priorities are. If your priority is on Jesus, then everything that you do will be glorifying God -- you'll want to glorify Jesus.
FAN 6: You know what? I love Jesus Christ and it's not gonna change my walk with God to listen to Marilyn Manson if I wanted to. I'm not going to 'cause I don't like their music, but who cares what they sing about? That's not gonna make me stumble in my walk. (Members of the crowd disagree)
FAN 6: Why would it? Oh, I can't think for myself? Oh no. I can't think for myself.
FAN 7: Why argue over the same Holy Spirit that you're offending by arguing, guys? We should pray.
FAN 8: This is division, this is not right.
CHELSEA: No. We should pray. (Leading prayer) Division is not the answer, Lord Jesus.
Anger, Lord God, is not the answer. We need to reach out to our brothers and love, not in hate, not in arguments, no kidding, man. (Crowd says amen and cheers)
Christian rock at the end of the century.