“I’m not gonna get into politics,” Mike Herrera tells the Reader via phone from his home in Bremerton, WA. This is in answer to a question about what manner of speech he’s planning to give when he gets here. He says he will for sure avoid going the route of the cheesy motivational speaker. “I’ll talk about my journey from being this kid in music up to today and how it’s formed my life.” No, the MxPx front man says, the organizers did not tell him what to talk about. “I assumed they wanted me to tie it into music,” he says. “After all, it is called the ‘San Diego Music Thing.’”
Aside from the fact that Herrera and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth are listed as keynote speakers (Gordon was headed for Europe at press time), the big news from the annual music-industry conference/festival is that after five years at North Park’s Lafayette Hotel, the event has moved to the Sheraton Hotel in Mission Valley.
Call it whatever you like, but taken as a whole, the San Diego Music Thing sits in the shadow cast by Austin’s much larger South by Southwest (SXSW) music-industry trade show. Likewise, the hometown Music Thing includes interactive and roundtable sessions with industry professionals, a trade show, happy-hour parties, listening stations, spontaneous live gigs, and 150 local, regional, and national bands performing at various venues around San Diego, including the Birch North Park Theatre, the Griffin, and the Irenic. In fact, the festival was first called North by North Park until SXSW officials complained.
These days, Herrera says he’s spending less time on the road and more time in his recording studio producing other bands’ projects, and for good reason: “We just had a baby,” he says. In San Diego, he’ll perform a solo acoustic set prior to his scheduled talk and says he will stick around for a question-and-answer session after.
Last year, Public Enemy’s Chuck D and MC5 founder Wayne Kramer were the featured speakers. How his own speaking gig came to be, Herrera says, is that he told his manager he was open to the idea of writing magazine articles and doing live speaking engagements, an arena in which he has some experience.
“I’m doing a podcast now every Friday at 8 p.m. eastern time on Adobe Radio.” The Mike Herrera Hour, he says, covers much territory. “I talk a lot about music and I tell tour stories, but there’s also talk of politics and current affairs. Almost anything,” he says, depending on who his guest is. “Even religion. I’m lucky people don’t give me shit. I’m not an expert on everything, on things like foreign policy.”
Kim Gordon speaks Friday night at 5 p.m., Mike Herrera’s presentation is scheduled for Saturday starting at 3:30.