“20 Questions” with Tom Wisniewski of MXPX

May 6, 2013

Anyone who knows me well, can tell you that MXPX is my “first love” in music. That band altered my life. (that, I need to write about)

I have been so blessed to have interviewed Mike Herrera twice. I am thrilled to now have had the opportunity  to interview Tom Wisniewski as well!

I know many of you have been waiting patiently for this interview, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer!


1. When did you first fall in love with music?

Oh, God I don’t know. I’d say I was probably, right before I started 7th grade. I had a family friend that played drums. He had a drum set in his bedroom and I came to his house one time and he was like “check this out!” He gets on the drums and just starts beating the crap out of it, and my jaw was on the floor. I thought to myself, “oh my God, I NEED to do this! This is AMAZING!” So I talked to my parents about how I wanted to play drums in the school band. They said if I played drums in the school band and did all the school band things, they would buy me a drum set. So I did that. In 7th grade I  bought a drum set off a guy in town, and set it up in my basement and proceeded to annoy my parents for years. It was awesome. So I played drums for a few years. All my friends, they played guitar. I was the only drummer. I realized that I one point I should probably learn to play guitar, because everyone I knew played guitar. It was a pretty smart idea and it worked out for me.

2. Do you remember the very first album you ever purchased?

Yeah, I got a cd player around the same time, 7th or 8th grade. It came with James Taylor. James Taylor is fine, but for a 15 year old kid that’s just not going to cut it. At that point I had a little bit of money and I bought two albums actually. The Descendents, Somery, which is kind of like their greatest hits. It made me want to be in a band. And the other was Alice in Chains, Dirt.

3. What was your very first live concert?

We went to a lot of local shows in junior high and high school, at local church halls, etc. There were a lot of local small bands. There was one called Bad JuJu. They were a local Bremerton area band. I remember thinking at that time something like “OMG they sound like Bad Religion! They are amazing!!!” It was in a dark sweaty hall. About a week later, Lollapalooza 2  was right up the street from my house. There was Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, Minisrty, Lush and all these other great bands. It was literally right up the street from my house. I walked to the show. That was my first real “big” show.  Pearl Jam came on, and when they started their first song I got shoved forward about 20 or 30 yards. My feet didn’t even touch the ground much. I could barely breathe because my chest was compressed so much from everyone just smashing against me. That was a pretty life changing day for me, being at that show.

4. MXPX just celebrated 20 Years together! How did they make you feel?

OLD. haha. When we first started we would go on all these tours, and we were always the kids. We were around 19 years old. Twenty years of playing in a band will make you feel a little old. And that’s cool. It comes with the territory of being around for so long. It made us feel that we accomplished something. We always looked up to the Descendents. The whole thing about them is that they never sold a ton of records. But if they sold 30,000 copies of ‘Milo Goes To College’, every one of the 30,000 people went out and started a band. They were such a legacy. So we feel like we accomplished something in these twenty years when people say, “we totally grew up on you guys!” or “The first bass line I ever learned was “Chick Magnet.” It is definitely feels like an accomplishment to hear fans say those things. “

5. If you could pick your favorite moment from the last 20 years, what moment would you choose?

It’s hard to boil it down to one thing. But for me, being a ‘band boy’ at heart, it would be all the people I have met throughout the years and their bands. And all the friends I have made along the way too. Just being able to say, “Oh yeah, I’ve met Joe Strummer.” He is one of my idols who I absolutely look up to. I was in love with everything he did. So the meeting of all the people I have looked up to as a young musician was pretty rad!

6. If you could go back to when you were a teenager, and starting MXPX, and you could tell yourself one thing, what would you say?

Hmm…that is a tough one. Probably practice more. Ha ha.  Be more aware of how much access you give people to YOU and your money. That is a pretty big one. Yeah, we definitely learned a few hard lessons along the way.

7. Which of all the MXPX songs is your favorite?

” That’s a hard one too. It is kind of like picking your favorite child. If you have a couple hundred kids. I don’t know. It’s pretty much a case by case basis for me with records. I was telling someone a while back, that pretty much if you pick up any MXPX record and you go to the first song, that is usually my favorite one. I had a way of getting my favorite ones up front. Especially in the later ones. There is a song called ‘The Darkest Places” on PANIC. That is my favorite on that one. I’ve always said that ‘Tomorrow Is Another Day’ is a favorite. I really like the lyrics. I like the music on ‘My Mom Still Cleans My Room” a lot. There are some fun chords in that one.

8. If you never picked up a musical interment in your life, what could you see yourself doing as a career?

“Probably what I am doing now. If I never picked up a musical instrument and I lived in Bremerton I would probably work in the ship yard. It’s like the mine or mill of our town. Everyone works there. If I never did the music thing I would be doing exactly what I am doing now. I just would of been there since 1995 instead of 2009. I would of had a 14 year head start on it.

9. If you could pick any band (past or present & other than MXPX) to join, which band would you choose?

” The Clash or The Descendents. Easy. The Clash. OMG, they wrote such cool stuff and they changed all the time. They were always progressing, but there were always still The Clash. And The Descendents, they have always had a special place in my heart. They wrote such great songs. Listening to them makes me so happy.

10. What advice to do you have for anyone pursing a career in music?

” That it’s hard, you know? Theres always someone out there who is going to work harder and have less to lose than you. It gets harder as you go on. When we first started out of high school, we were like “let’s go, and do this thing 100%!  There’s nothing else we have going on.” As it gets later on in your life, you have families and kids and a house and all these responsibilities. And you think ” I really need to be home for this.” There is someone out there who is saying, “I have nothing going on except for THIS. This is 100% of my life, this is all I am doing.” So I would say be prepared to work harder than the next guy, because there is always someone coming up and trying to outwork you.

11. If you were the subject of a tabloid magazine, what would it say about you? Or what would you LIKE it to say about you?

Ha ha. I think what it would say and what I would LIKE to say would be two completely different things. What it would probably say is something along the lines of  “worlds most boring man discovered” or something like that. BUT what I would like it to say is “Tom Wisniewski throws SuperBowl winning touchdown!”

12.I hear a lot of bands say that they play pranks when out on the road. Did you guys do that? If so, what was your favorite one?

Oh God, yes. My favorite one was when we were on tour with a band called The O.C. Supertones in the summer of 1996. We would start out throwing stuff back and forth on the freeway to each other between the two vans and it was all fun. We would always travel together. Then one day we pulled up to a gas station. We filled up the van and they just bailed!  We were like “what the hell! They are supposed to be waiting for us. We all roll together!  They are just stupid.”  All of a sudden there are bottle rockets flying at us. They were across the street just launching bottle rockets and fireworks at us, while we are filling up at a GAS STATION!  We were like, ” Holy Crap! These guys are idiots!”  We get to the show that night, and we said, “we seriously have to put and end to this. We have to smack them down so hard they don’t know what hit them.” So after we did sound check, we took the van and ran over to a Walmart of Kmart  and we bought 5 or 6 paintball guns. We loaded up with as much Co2 and paintballs that we could get. Took them to the hotel that night and did a little test fire. The next day we were on the freeway, we pull up next to them. We had one of those vans that had the side door that slides back, and we had a couch in the van. We had three guys sitting on the couch and one guy riding shot gun. We had our guns loaded, and we pulled up next to them. they looked over at us, probably thinking, “what they hell are these guys doing?” We whipped open the side door and unloaded on their van! They said it sounded like they were getting hit with gravel. Then we fell back behind them, we reloaded and we caught up with them and hit them again. They had a white van and a white trailer. It was rainbow by the time we were done. They then pull off the road, they go to a gas station and their drummer is out with a squeegee cleaning off the van and inspecting the trailer. He was all mad because there were dings in the trailer. They rest of the band was like, “you guys seriously got us and we could never come back from that!” So that was a pretty fun one!

13. So you have a FEW tattoos. Which one would you say is your favorite or has the most meaning to you?

Hmm…I have a whole back piece that is still in progress right now that i really like. My tattoo artist is a girl named Katie Williams from a shop called House Of Tattoo in Tacoma, WA. She has been tattooing me a lot for the last few years. I had my whole back blank, and came to her and said, “look, this is the biggest canvas I have. I want something that spans the whole thing. I don’t want to see my back ever again. I want it to be 100% covered and colored in.” We talked about it for a while. She is one of those people who happens to be an artist who happens to tattoo. She is an artist who’s medium is tattooing. So, I said “what about an owl?” She said “OK!” She called me back in about and week and said she was done drawing it up and I should come check it out. That one is rad!  She also did another on my leg. I have a whole ‘Day of The Dead’ shin guard now. Basically what it was, is that I had a ‘Day of The Dead’ mask on the back of my calf. I told her I wanted to get a ‘Day of The Dead’ mariachi band and spanish dancing girls. About a week later she had drawn up this giant drawing! I said, “what is that?!” She said “that’s your shin guard! It was 2-3 times bigger than I thought it would be! It went from my ankle all the way up to my knee. It has the band, the dancing girls and a whole scene of a guy (they are all dead) and he is at his own funeral sitting in the coffin. All his buddies are there. His wife is there and she is bummed that he ditched her. She has her skeleton baby. There is a dude passed out with a bottle of tequila. She really went for it with that one.

14. If you could pick any superpower, which would you pick? And what would you do with it?

Flying is pretty typical, but imagine if you could fly! It would be amazing. I would use it to get places. “oh! we gotta be at a show in Montreal? No problem! I’ll fly there myself!”  It would be so cool too, because where we live you have to take an hour long ferry ride to Seattle. But it’s only like 10 miles, so I could just fly right over. And what a time saver too. No more traffic. You would get bugs in your teeth though.

15. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like see play the part of YOU?

I’ve really liked Tom Hardy lately. After I saw him in Bronson I was like “Oh my gosh, this guy is ridiculously amazing.” Not that you would have to be that great of an actor to act out my life, but I think he would be a fun one. But not Tom Hardy all muscled out, because that wouldn’t really be right for me. Plus his name is already Tom, so that would be an easy one for him.

What kind of movie would it be?

I guess a rockumentary huh? Maybe a mocumentary. It would be some sort of Spinal Tap thing. All the series of unfortunate occurrences.

16. If you stumbled upon a time machine in your backyard one day, what time period would you use it to travel to?

The 50’s would be cool because it seems that era is so great and so idealized. I would love to see how it really was. But it would be great to see some other crazy times too, like to go back and kick it with some dinosaurs and stuff.

17. If you could pick a song to describe your life at this moment, what song would you choose?

Man, that is a rough one. I don’t even know. haha. Can I phone a friend? Can I pass? I might come up with something later. Ha Ha.

(note: he later on wrote and said that he could only think of funny songs like “Let’s Get It On” and “Eat It” )

18. What is one thing you need to do in life before you get REALLY old?

I don’t know. I’ve traveled a bunch, which is great. That was one of the big perks of the band was being able to travel. I really want to build a car from the frame up. Buy a frame at a junk yard somewhere and put together a car. But I can do that when I am old so I am not really constrained by age.  Theres nothing that being old is going to keep me from.  I’m 36 years old and I still hang out with a bunch of 20 year olds and make poop jokes. I don’t ever see being old keeping me from doing much.


19. What is your guilty pleasure?

Real cheesy pop music. Katy Perry’s last record is amazing! I  have heard Katy Perry described as ‘White Mans Kryptonite.”

20. What makes you come alive?

Well, being up on stage. I love getting up on stage and playing. The whole music business side of things is always a real bummer but it is a necessary evil to get to go up and play. How ever long we have a night to play, that always made me feel alive. Now, I play a lot of softball with my friends for fun. Getting up there and getting a hold of the ball is a really great feeling. Seeing is soar and thinking, ” I really nailed ya there guy.” That’s fun! Seeing old friends too and people I have not seen in forever. Just reconnecting with old friends. I saw Yuri today at work and it was one of those times when we are like, ” Hey! I haven’t seen you for months!” I love that guy!


Thank you so much, Tom for taking time to talk to me. And also for being a Guinea pig with my ghetto voice recorder. You are awesome and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to chat with you!

All photos by my pal, and MXPX’s main photographer dude Jered Scott!

Edited by: Tom Wisniewski

For more information about MXPX go to www.mxpx.com