In 2004, when I was feeling a little down and confined mostly to my studio apartment due to a broken foot, a friend of mine and a fellow lover of live shows (in small venues) made me a CD mix to keep me entertained. On this cd were songs by some of my favorite artists, Rufus Wainwright, Rocket from the Crypt, and The Waterboys to name a few, but there was one song by a band I had never heard before, X, called “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts.”
I came to learn that in San Diego where I lived at the time, that this indie rock band, formed in 1977 (and still touring today), had quite a cult following and played live around town from time to time even in the late 90s and early 2000s. I also loved their sound! With John Doe on vocals and bass and Exene Cervenka harmonizing with him at the helm; their music is a power play which often begins with subtle vocal interchanges which crescendo into a fever pitch that really rocks you (and makes you think). I’m a big fan of poetic lyrics and always want to decipher meaning in songs. . .and X delivers. In the song “White Girl” we are told a story that makes a bold dystopian statement about the nature of modern relationships supported by some really innovative and ripping chord changes by guitarist Billy Zoom. The fact that the drummer’s name is DJ bonebreak sums it up! The song “We’re Desperate” from the album Wild Gift, will take you on a rollicking rockabilly ride! If you listen to their song “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline,” I recommend a live version which will take you on a similar journey with some heavy base that seems to rock you from the inside. These songs are still just scratching the surface of their anthology and to be honest I haven’t even heard half of it yet, although I did get a chance to see them live at the Casbah in San Diego. (I think this was in either 2005 or 2006, so far back I’m not sure which!)
The night we saw them at the Casbah I left right after the show, and as it turned out I missed out on a chance to hang out with John Doe himself. A couple of my friends, chatting him up after the show, invited him to hang out in Little Italy, and he accepted! Turns out he is a really personable and down to earth guy. I have learned that he is also a character actor in L.A., and as a matter of fact plays the bartender in the Patrick Swayze film Roadhouse, a cult classic about a righteous team of bouncers in a rock-and-roll bar. It’s a pretty funny character, and a good movie; if you get a chance check it out.
When you love a great band it should take you on a path of discovery, and X has done this for me. I’m still discovering them and finding new tracks that I like whenever I give them a listen. One thing I have learned over the years is that some bands are timeless and relevant decade after decade, and X pulls this off beautifully. They came through Northern California this past July and I missed my chance to see them in Grass Valley. . .I’m not sure if they will be coming back any time soon, but they are on an extensive national tour as we speak. They will be headlining with The Buzzcocks and Los Lobos at the BANG! Festival in Orange County this September 20th, which features gourmet food, a record swap and something called “Exene’s Vintage Clothing Swap.” I hope some of my lucky Southern California friends will be able to attend!
Hello, i’m Maria Medina (vitamindeejay) a dj with Sacramento States only student run radio KSSU