Next month legendary Los Angeles punk band X will celebrate their 35th anniversary. Though the timeline of the band has been on and off since their formation in 1977, X have been on fire since 2008 and are showing no signs of stopping. Since the release of their debut, Los Angeles, X kickstarted the LA punk scene and showed how the West Coast could rival the East Coast punk scene started by The Ramones, Television and the British scene created by The Clash, Sex Pistols. Just before X members John Doe and Exene Cervenka hit the road on an acoustic tour to celebrate their 25 years, we spoke with Cervenka, who also serves as one of punk rocks first women to really break out in the genre and show it was not just a man's game. Take a look at our interview with the legendary Exene Cervenka below:
First and foremost, how does it feel to be back?
We play about 50 shows a year and still love doing it.
All these years later, the music of Los Angeles still resonates an is just as brilliant now as it was back then. Did you ever anticipate you were creating such a punk masterpiece back then?
Kind of. You have to feel that way as an artist. That this is my very best work. But I didn't anticipate the passivity of the people. I thought punk would be replaced by something new and more radical that never happened. Now punk is the new music again.
How does it make you feel that you created a timeless punk classic?
I never think about it unless someone says so.
The LA punk scene was very different from what was going on in New York and London. Did you want to create your own brand of punk rather than mimic everyone else?
l had much more humor. We were younger and most of the musicians were not accomplished older like Verlaine and Cale. We were snotty kids with nothing to lose. We had a lot of contempt for the manufactured corporate culture. Our goal sometimes was to overthrow it. Sometimes our goal was just to get wild n play music.
With the internet today making thing so accessible, especially music, how did punk music reach you in LA while it was happening elsewhere?
Word of mouth. That works really good. So does having your ear to the ground. We had college radio and indie stores. indy stores were like bars. You went all the time to hang out with people and just look at records. No one had much money so wed share 45s and have record parties. I’d get a record and play it over and over and over. Rhino records was a great store cause they had all the old music and the reissues.
What was it like hearing it for the first time?
Well as far as I am concerned punk started in LA about the same time as NY. The first music I saw was probably Devo and off course our l a scene. Screamers, Weirdos those bands and then X started in ‘76.
You were on the road all fall playing Los Angeles and showing X: The Unheard Music documentary. How did the idea of a reunion come up? Why did you choose to have the film, essentially as the opening act?
We like the film and so does our crowd. They've mostly seen it but it’s like an x social. People seem to meet each other at our shows a lot. The movie is a shared experience for them.
With a reunion now underway, could a new album happen?
Who knows. We talk about it but the desire is not that strong. Our songs aren’t dated and we don’t get sick of them. but really my dream would be to record some new x songs.
Did you think when you were starting out in LA you would still be playing in this band all these years later?
Who thinks when 20? I didn't think I’d be anywhere now.
With your music you have managed to influence so many artists from all different genres. What would you say about music today?
I listen to older music from the early 1900s to the 60s and i think there is good new music but its way underground. I call it guerrila rock cause its kids like in the punk days that are awake and individual. None of them sound alike. I like Black Rainbow Skating Polly and the ‘78 scene in So Cal.
Do you ever feel jealous or angry, if not both, about how fast it is for someone to get recognized today, unlike when you started out starving for what you were doing?
Why? I don’t want to be like the corporate androids that are popular!!! It’s very easy to manufacture vocals in the studio. I prefer singing and playing by real people with passion and a reason. Always felt that way. That’s why punk started.
Of all the songs you have written over the years, what is your favorite X song and what does it mean to you?
That's hard but probably “The Worlds a Mess Its in my Kiss.” It says how I feel about the human condition and how we convey our views on that to each other and its also about alienation. Or the alien nation if you prefer.