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X soldiering on despite ailing band member

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2015

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X should, by all rights, be celebrating.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the group's groundbreaking debut album, "Los Angeles," and the quartet's emergence as a leading force in the American and West Coast punk rock scene. But the mood's been dampened a bit by words that guitarist Billy Zoom is battling bladder cancer and has to miss the summer tour to undergo treatments.

Jesse Dayton, who`s played with Waylon Jennings and Supersuckers, is filling in, while a fund has been started to help Zoom with his medical costs via gofundme.com.

"It's gonna be weird, but I also believe Billy's going to be fine," singer-bassist John Doe, 61, says by phone from his home near San Francisco. "He has a great prognosis. He's gonna beat this. It's a much less invasive kind of chemotherapy. It's localized. Everybody says it's cool, so I'm gonna believe it's cool."

Zoom did play a four-show run with X earlier this month in Orange County, Calif., and Doe (nee Duchac) reports that the guitarist ("feels OK. He was in more pain before the treatment He played his ass off at the shows, so we're fairly confident he'll be back playing with us in November." And Doe adds that he and X's other members have been gratified by the instant response to the GoFundMe campaign.

"It's been incredibly rewarding, especially to read some of the comments on the site," he says. "People are saying, 'Here's 20 bucks, which is nothing compared to the pleasure you've give me over the years.' So that'll help him survive while we're off doing our own thing."

Doe also has a new solo album he says is "80 percent done," which he's recording in Tucson, Ariz., with Giant Sand's Howe Gelb and describes as "Western psychedelic R&B." That's due out in 2016, and Doe acknowledges that Zoom's recent health crisis could put generate a bit of urgency for X to make its first new album since 1993's "Hey Zeus!"

"We're always talking about trying to do some X stuff," Doe says. "It's been difficult to have everybody in the same place at the same time. But now that Billy's got to recover, maybe he'll have time to think, 'Hey, maybe I ought to do a new song or two.' He's been a little bit resistant before, but maybe (being sick) will change things."

X and Dead Rock West

Friday, July 24. Doors open at 8 p.m.

The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.

Tickets are $30.

Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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