X heads to Toronto for NXNE
Jon Doe from the punk rock band X
Published Wednesday, June 16, 2010 3:01PM EDT
TORONTO - When X singer John Doe visited North by Northeast in Toronto three years ago there was one thing that stood out about the music festival, compared to other similarly extensive fests.
NXNE was all about the music, man.
"It seemed like a music festival rather than a business festival," Doe said in a telephone interview from his home in California.
"A lot of festivals tend to be about schmoozing and business people networking and (B.S.) like that, and I think a music festival should be for the listeners and people who love music. Rather than for people to make deals."
Indeed, there's plenty of music on offer at this year's fest, which runs through Sunday.
The festival is featuring 650 bands, spread over 50 venues, with 40 films also being screened.
And the lineup boasts a diverse cross-section of bands, from well-known vets to buzzy indie favourites like Japandroids, Surfer Blood, Free Energy and Wavves.
The list of influential heavyweights, meanwhile, includes proto-punk heroes Iggy and the Stooges, hip-hop innovators De La Soul and grunge godfathers Mudhoney. All three bands are playing free concerts in Yonge-Dundas Square.
And, of course, there's the trailblazing punk-rockers X, who will also headline a concert there on Thursday night.
"It's gonna be a big, crazy show," Doe predicted.
It'll be just the second live performance this year for the venerable L.A. rockers (though Doe, vocalist Exene Cervenka and drummer D.J. Bonebrake have played together as the alt-country act the Knitters).
This past April marked the 30th anniversary of their classic debut, "Los Angeles."
Doe didn't want to get too sentimental about the milestone -- "I think everyone's pleased that we're not dead, first and foremost," he deadpanned -- but was willing to muse briefly on the band's legacy.
"More than anything, X and the whole punk rock movement encouraged women to be a real part of the band rather than just window dressing," said Doe, who cited Silversun Pickups and Verbena as two modern bands that he thought exhibited X's influence.
"I think (X singer Exene Cervenka) takes a lot of pride, and the rest of the women that were in punk rock, take a lot of pride in that. And they should."
Unfortunately for fans, it doesn't sound as though new material is imminent.
There were whispers online the past few years that the band might issue an album of new X material -- the last being 1993's "hey Zeus!" -- but Doe didn't seem optimistic.
"No, (it) hasn't really materialized yet," he said with a chuckle. "I've written a bunch of songs for my solo record, and Exene is recording another record already. So we're still hoping that we're going to get around to it, but I don't know.
"It doesn't look too good."
The main problem, he said, is trying to write music that somehow sounds distinctly X -- rather than just penning whatever tunes come to mind.
"We didn't set out in 1977 like, 'I'm gonna write punk-rock songs for a band, X.' You just wrote," he explained.
"So if you're not feeling particularly punk-rock, to force yourself to write a punk-rock song, it's sort of silly and forced. And we're not gonna do that."