X co-leader John Doe felt his life change while watching the Damned at L.A.’s Starwood on the 1977 tour. The singer, bassist, and recent Austin transplant is surprised to hear that Damned co-founder Captain Sensible – also in town this week celebrating his band’s four-decade anniversary – never expected lasting cultural impact from punk.
“See, we did,” Doe demurs. “I didn’t know this would last, but I had the aspiration to change things, and so did Exene [Cervenka, co-vocalist] and so did Billy [Zoom, guitarist]. We hoped that this would be a career, because we saw that this was something you could do as musicians.
“We foolishly thought we could be as famous as the Animals,” he laughs. “We may not become as big as the Rolling Stones or the Beatles, but we thought we could get up there and do our thing.”
Still, Doe never foresaw in those days that X would be celebrating 40 years of marrying gritty urban beat poetry and American roots influences to the Ramones’ chaindrive guitar action.
“I think you’re just trying to get from point A to point B, looking three months down the line, trying to get a gig, trying to write a song that says something or relates to somebody or gives you a certain feeling,” he reasons. “You’re just trying to get by. On the other hand, there was all kinds of excitement, something going on, but you really didn’t have an idea what that was. You just knew something was happening.”
And how does Doe feel still playing things like “Johnny Hit And Run Paulene” 40 years later?
“It keeps you young.” he says. “I don’t ever feel foolish, like I’m wearing clothes that were meant for somebody younger. We have a right to play what we created.
“And it’s not like we’re jumping around screaming about Ronald Reagan. Exene is a really skillful writer, and she wrote about political issues from the perspective of an everyman, rather than specific incidents.”– Tim Stegall
Sensual and sultry Oakland R&B singer Kehlani Parrish achieved fame on America’s Got Talent, but 2015’s Grammy-nominated mixtape You Should Be Here elevated her to festival status. She gets deeply personal on January’s major label debut, SweetSexySavage. Discovered on Instagram, London’s Ella Mai rides three promising EPs, including 2017’s Ready.– Kahron Spearman