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With all four original members of legendary punk/roots band X back together and touring, it's almost like the band is going through a mid-life resurgence. And even after 30 years, John Doe, singer, guitarist and founding member, thinks the band still has something positive to contribute.
"The bottom line is that we still sound good and we still play well," Doe says from his home in Los Angeles. "[Fellow founding member] Exene [Cervenka] and I continue to have a unique way of communicating on stage."
In 1977, when X's run began, Cervenka and Doe expanded the common notions of punk, instilling harmony and structure into the loud and fast roar. At least part of that sound came from original guitarist Billy Zoom, who is touring with the band on this go-'round, for the first time in 20 years.
"Billy Zoom is Billy Zoom," Doe says fondly. "He introduced the rockabilly element into punk rock, and what he brings to the band is still special."
The resulting music X created drew fans of country and rockabilly to the band's shows and helped Los Angeles become one of the epicenters of the American punk rock experience.
With a set list that includes many selections from X's renowned first two records, Los Angeles and Wild Gift, Doe figures that the performances will satisfy longtime fans by allowing them to revel in a classic moment in time.
"Those records were unique because that's the point at which we figured out what made sense, what elements were there to set us apart from other bands" Doe says. "It was a time of great discovery, for us as a band and for music in general."
Although both Doe and Cervenka will continue to have the solo careers they have spun out of X, Doe promises that a new effort from The Knitters (X's cornpone alter ego), will be released later this year. He won't, however, commit to another X CD.
For now, it seems touring is enough for Doe and the band, whose shows have been consistently well-attended and critically well-received. Mixing the harmony-laced punk of their early days along with the more alt-country material from latter portions of the band's career, X is quite capable of delivering the goods in either style.
Doe doesn't envision the good times ending anytime soon, either. He is, however, realistic to mull over the ending options, considering that his band has been around three decades and all.
"I may never become tired of this band, but I may not be able to perform up to the quality I require," he says. "Quality is job number one with John Doe."