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X marks a punk spot by performing first two albums
Punk rock isn't by nature nostalgic or sentimental.
But nearly 40 years on, John Doe and his bandmates in Los Angeles' X have no problem celebrating their impactful past and playing the group's first two albums -- 1980's "Lost Angeles" and 1981's "Wild Gift" -- in their entirety on tour this summer.
"We've gotten to the people where we go like, 'S***, this is great! We deserve this,'" Doe (nee Duchac) says by phone from his home in northern California. "We deserve to be able to go out and have people look up to us as survivors and pioneers. We don't have any of that feeling of, like, 'Oh, maybe we're a fraud' or something. You have more of a feeling that, 'Yeah, this is cool. This is great.'
"And it doesn't hurt that they're good songs that we get to play, and we probably like each other better and have a better feeling about the band than we probably did back when we made those records."
One thing Doe says he and his X mates -- Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake -- do have now is a long view on both of the albums, which allows them to relate differently to them now than they did three and a half decades ago.
"They're not about the thing that happened last month; They're about something that happened 40 years ago," notes Doe, 63, who released a solo album, "The Westerner," earlier this year. "But they're still universal themes, and people can relate to them -- maybe just a little differently if you're older..
"It's like the old actor thing; You've got to be there and represent, regardless of whether you played it last night or 10 years ago or more. YOu've still got to (expletive) be there. YOu've got to show up and you've got to be ready to invest yourself. So that's how we approach it."
Doe, who's also an actor, became an author this year as well, publishing the memoir "Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History Of L.A. Punk." He incorporates the voices of others from the scene in the book -- including Cervenka and members of the Go-Go's and the Blasters -- and, like playing the albums, the exercise gave him a greater appreciation for what X and its compatriots accomplished.
"I always felt like we did something, and maybe 20 years ago I realized, 'Y'know what? We had impact and we did something great,'" Doe says. "Now I think other people can have that feeling. Other people can read it and go, 'Wow, there was a lot of (stuff) going on and they did actually influence future generations. (Punk) wasn't all just London and New York.'
"So if it opens some eyes and educates people a little more about what happened. that makes me happy."
Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20-21. Doors open at 8 p.m.
El Club, 4114 Vernor Highway, Detroit.
John Speck opens Saturday's show. Timmy's Organism opens Sunday.
Tickets are $35.
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