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X at El Club, 5 Things To Know
Punk rock is supposed to be the music of youthful rebellion, but 40 years on the members of X show that one can mature gracefully and still have the spirit.
The venerable Los Angeles band formed 40 years ago, when bassist John Doe answered guitarist Billy Zoom’s ad, and the rest is proverbial history -- including seven albums and a still-intact reputation as a ferocious live act. X has gone through several hiatuses during its four decades, but the group has been working steadily since about 2004, while the four band members have also maintained solo and side projects.
And on Oct. 13 X will be honored with an “X: 40 years of Punk in Los Angeles” exhibit at the Grammy Museum...
• Doe (nee Duchac), says that X’s durability is due to “short-term memory and not holding grudges and basically believing that the music holds up and having an audience not being a bunch of all old people and things like that. We’re able to move forward rather than dwell on the past.” Drummer DJ Bonebrake, 61, adds that, “As people mention it, it’s amazing -- “40?! Wow! Where did the time go?’ To be here playing, to be healthy, it’s a great thing. We’re still making good music. We all know people who have died or didn’t make it, couldn’t sustain it or whatever so we don’t take this for granted.”
• Doe, 64, says by phone that in celebrating its 40th anniversary X is playing a show that’s “really different and pretty broad, and we added another player who can play drums while DJ’s playing vibes. Billy is playing sax on a few songs. We’re playing songs we never played while they were they were released. It starts off with kind of more rootsy punk rock stuff that we did and goes into this middle section of ‘I Must Not Think Bad Thought’ and ‘Come Back to Me’ and weird stuff like that, and then we bring it home with our meat-and-potatoes punk rock stuff.”
• Doe feels “authenticity, honestly and straightforwardness” he have helped X continue to build an audience over the years. “There’s not a lot of tricks in what we do,” he explains. “Why are there some really cute 20-year-old boys and girls up front? I guess because we never had one really big hit song and didn’t have a really dumb haircut. Somehow we’ve maintained credibility because of that.” Bonebrake adds by phone that, “I just think it’s good music, and we play some good shows. We never had a hit record, so we have to tour. We can’t live off royalties. People see us, and they bring more people to see us.”
• Being the subject of a Grammy Museum exhibit is “weird,” according to Bonebrake. “Of course we’re honored and it’s great to get the recognition,” he explains, but it’s weird because my feeling is you can’t retire us now. I think about going into the Natural History Museum in the Smithsonian, looking at the stuffed birds for a few hours. It’s all fantastic, but we’re not ready to be stuffed and mounted yet. We’re still playing.” The exhibit will include artifacts from throughout the group’s career, including early concert flyers, instruments, stage clothes, the typewriter Doe and Exene Cervenka used to write lyrics and more.
• X will be releasing “Live In Latin America” from a recent tour with Pearl Jam, which is the first live album from the original lineup and was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. The group hasn’t released a new studio album since 2003, and Doe -- who’s working on a second memoir -- says he’s not sure if we’ll ever see one. “There are two or three songs on every solo record I do that could be X songs, but it would take the four of us to sit in a room and just do it,” Doe says. “But it’s complicated to actually do that. It’s like a family, and families are complicated. We’ll see where we end up when this (tour) is all done. Right now all you can really do is focus on getting from Point A to Point B.”
If You Go
• 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16.
• El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Highway, Detroit.
• Tickets are $35-$99.
• Visit elclubdetroit.com.
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