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October 19, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-19

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The Michigan Daily - re*( ec. -- Thursday,October 19, 1995 - 58


Doe moves from' X' generation to Generation X

dy Brian A. Gnatt
aily Music Editor
Sipping a cup of coffee at Ann Arbor's
>wn Fleetwood Diner seems like an
verydayexperience. Butwhen the per-
on sitting across the white Formica
able is one of America's most popular
>ld-school punk rock icons, the hotjava
;ees to taste just a little bit richer.
John Doe, frontman of the legendary
nid'70spunkbandXrocked the Blind
'ig recently. This trip brought Doe
hrough town with his new side project,
he John Doe Thing, which has been
pening shows for Juliana Hatfield on
ier latest U.S. club and theater tour.
Ddring his brief stop in Ann Arbor,
Doe had a chance to sit down and chat
ibout life, politics, and his ability to
stand the test of time over a cup of the
Fleetwood's black coffee.
On his second solo album
'Kissingsohard," Doe said he wanted
:o grasp the opportunity to record a
number of his songs he had been writ-
ing over the years. "I had a bunch of
songs Smokey Hormel and I had played
together for four years, doing mostly
acoustic shows in California," Doe said.
'I had songs and an opportunity, and it
worked out with the scheduling."
Along with Hormel (the Blasters) on
guitar, bassist Brad Houser (Edie
Brickell and the New Bohemians),
drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, Walt
Mink) and Doe on vocals, the band's
diverse talents work well in their punk-
roots-rock music.
But while "Kissingsohard" proves
Doe is anything but an old has-been
punker from the past, he said X is the
only Los Angeles-based band of their
era that is still around today. "We're the
only band who kept working, and I
don't know why," Doe said as he pro-
duced a blue Drum tobacco pouch and
began to roll himself a cigarette.
"I guess people didn't have enough
stamina, in Darby's case (Darby Crash
of the Germs) he definitely didn't have
enough stamina, because he died," Doe
said. You laugh about it now because
it's been 15 years,butthat was very sad,
a very hard part of our life, him dying
and everything.
"I don't know, we had some creative
juice, or some stupidity not to quit," he
continued. "Especially nowadays, I
wonderaboutpeople'smotives forplay-
ing music. I think there's a return to the
attitude that you get into music to get a
hit song and to be a big shot, and if it
doesn't work out, you better go back to
Dad's hardware store, or go back to
school, or get Mom and Dad to find you
Doe said that it's the "Do It Your-
self" attitude and mindset of his
generation's punk rock that separates
the: '70s and '80s punk from that of
today's major-label mall punk. "If a lot
f new bands didn't have the success
An lR a
inbisrhurs.M am lam
S. Foreset niv.

and didn't have the audience available
and all the network it takes to have a
band and tour across the country, I
wonder if they would be into going
through the hardship that came along
with that," Doe said.
"You used to play in Los Angeles
and New York, and that was it," he said.
"We drove in 1978 from Los Angeles to
play four gigs in New York and then
drove home. It wasn't until we had
toured and a bunch of otherbands started
up in Texas and in Georgia and later on
in Minneapolis. SST started, andpeople
started touring constantly. I think the
Minutemen and Black Flag did a great
deal for that, and that began to set up a
network of college radio stations before
record companies had college radio
"So that network was just built slowly
with the Replacements and Husker Du
and us, but by no means was us. It was
everybody, and I think that's a big part
of what punk rock was, which was you
had to help each other out," Doe re-
But with punk becoming a gigantic
moneymaker for major record labels,
Doe said he feels that the generic ripped-
off sound of many current bands is
deplorable. "It's really annoying to hear
someone that obviously is taking influ-
ences from something that was popular
six months ago, and making a song
similar enough to that so it's targeted to
get on the same radio stations as that
song got on and it does," Doe said.
"And everyone goes, 'Wow man, this is
cool.' Then why not listen to the other
songs? But I don't question motives. I
hope that the reason people start play-
ing music is to express themselves and
not to make money.
"I think it's too bad somehow the
media is doing a job to deny people of
their culture, so that they don't even
know who X was, or who the Ramones
were, Patti Smith was or Iggy Pop,"
Doe said. "I mean I'm talking about
someone who is 17 or 18 years old, and
has 20 CDs where every record is
Smashing Pumpkins. They probably
don't know where any of that shit came
from, or where tattoos came from, who
started making tattoos, and who started
jumping off stages and they should,
because it's part oftheir culture. I guess

that's up to people like me to spread the
word. Stage diving started with Tony
Alva and his skateboard crowd, and
they would jump on stage and spin
around and miss everything. They
wouldn't even touch a beer on the stage.
Now you see it on Pepsi commercials.
It's very strange. Makes you wonder
what year it is. Now I've noticed there's
a resurgence of slam dancing and
pogoing instead ofcrowd surfing. Give
it a fucking rest, man. What year is
this? 1981?"
Politics has always been a very
important issue with X, from their
early political anthems of anti-estab-
lishment to Doe's complaints and
political theories today. "Things are
getting to the point where you have to
be at least aware if you're not directly
involved," he said. "Hopefully the
awareness will bring more involve-
ment. I think both the political par-
ties are pretty fucked up. I think most
of the country is based on lies, and I
think the corporations are proving to
everyone and people are becoming
aware that they are in control. I think
that was really obvious by the NAFTA
and GATT treaties being passed, be-
ing initiated by the Republican party
and George Bush and being passed to
the Clinton administration.
"I think Clinton is definitely the lesser
of two evils, because at least he's try-
ing to maintain the social programs
that are in place. I'm hopeful, but I
Motor Town Juke Boys
"White Folks Havin' Fun"
Tapes and CD's
Exclusively Available at
Schoolkids Records
E. Liberty Ann Arbor, Ml

don't think corporations allow major
parties to do what they know is right. I
don't know if Republicans do know
what's right, butI think they know what's
right forthem, I think 'them' as opposed
to the 'us."'
But for the present and the future,
opening up for the youngens like Juliana
Hatfield might seem a little strange, but
Doe is simply happy to be able to be
alive in the music industry and to still be
relevant today.
"I'd rather play to a different audi-
ence to be part of the present and possi-
bly the future than to play for the same
audience or an older audience that is
being convinced that this is still OK," he
said. "I think Juliana had a little bit of a
problem at first like 'I'm not worthy,
I'm not worthy.' But you know, she's
one of us. She could have been in a band
in LA in 1978. She's an artist. She's
looking for something. She's not com-
placent and doing just what she knows
she can succeed at. She's really pushing
tempos and melodies and really looking
for stuff. That's the sign of someone
who will continue to grow and make
good stuff."

Former X member John Doe goes it alone on his new release.


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