John Doe of X on Being Influenced by the Rolling Stones and Writing Brand New Material with Exene
Being at the forefront of the southern California punk movement as well as having a critically acclaimed solo career has kept John Doe of X busy for the past three decades. Fresh off a South American tour with Pearl Jam and right before X's show Wednesday night at Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, the frontman talked with us about the future of X, the band's legacy and, believe it or not, potential new material from the band for the first time in years.
It's hard to believe that it's been 31 years since Los Angeles was released. A lot of your contemporaries have fallen off, yet you've continued to make music all these years later and X is still going strong. What does that tell you about the longevity and legacy of the band's work?
First of all, I think everyone's grateful we've survived. We were careful about following trends, even though we were part of the Los Angeles punk rock explosion, as it was called. We made sure the songs we wrote weren't just topical and had influences deeper than just two years ago. Maybe that's part of it.
The crowds at X shows are pretty eclectic at this point in the band's career. There are old punk rockers to teenagers at the shows. The message has obviously endured if the music can reach a wide range of fans.
Absolutely. Even in the old days, in the late '70s, the audiences were pretty diverse. Nowadays, people are aware of bands that are real and bands that are contrived. Given the chance to see someone that's been around, people are aware that's something. I saw Chuck Berry around 1971 and he was fucking unbelievable. It wasn't seeing him in 1956, but he was still great. I think that's part of the reason we still do it because there are people who are 16 or 17 that are coming to see X. I'm not going to pretend that we're just in it for the art [laughs]. We're receiving the financial benefits of working for so long, and it's exciting to see new people experiencing the band.
Also, it's because we've never had that one hit that everyone says, "Play that one!" What it means to us is that we do have the opportunity to continue to play. Everyone is grateful to be one of the last punk rock bands standing. We don't take that lightly.
That being said, it's safe to assume you guys are still having issues collecting money from Warner Bros., right?
Warner or Rhino or whatever, they just ignore everything. I don't feel singled out. That's why they're failing and continue to fail. They just deleted Under The Big Black Sun from their catalog. Sooner or later, we'll find a way to get the rights back and we'll re-release it and make money.