The seminal Los Angeles punk band X is celebrating its 40th anniversary on a tour that includes four nights at Seattle’s Crocodile.
It’s been nearly 40 years since X made its debut on the explosive Los Angeles punk scene, but the band continues to thrive well past what many punk bands might consider a pull date.
“I always say that longevity is the hardest thing to achieve,” said singer Exene Cervenka, now 60, in a phone call from her home in Orange, Calif. “But I’m happier doing X than I have ever been.
“We’ve got three generations of people now coming to see us. I’m grateful that we’re still doing it and I’m grateful people still want to see us. You don’t retire … you play until you die.”
8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27 (Skating Polly opens), Monday, Nov. 28 (Visqueen), Tuesday, Nov. 29 (Small Wigs), and Wednesday, Nov. 30 (Tripwires), at the Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., Seattle; $29.50, Monday sold out (206-441-4618 or thecrocodile.com).
The band features its original lineup: Cervenka (vocals), John Doe (vocals, bass), Billy Zoom (saxophone) and D.J. Bonebrake (drums, vibes) — plus Craig Packham (drums, rhythm guitar).
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The L.A. group is on its “X-mas 40th Anniversary Celebration” tour (the band’s actual 40th anniversary is next year). They’ll play eight West Coast cities, with multiple nights in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
“It’s so much more fun to spend more than a day in a town, which you hardly ever get to do,” Cervenka said.
The tour opens Sunday (Nov. 27) at the Crocodile, with female alt-rock duo Skating Polly, whose second album was produced by Cervenka (this is the only all-ages show in a four-night stand). Three additional nights follow with different support bands (Visqueen Nov. 28, Small Wigs Nov. 29 and The Tripwires Nov. 30).
X formed in 1977 after Doe and Zoom found each other through separate musician-seeking-musician ads in a local publication. The two quickly began collaborating and Doe soon brought his poetry-writing then-girlfriend, Cervenka, into the fold.
Doe later recruited Bonebrake from rock band the Eyes, featuring bass player Charlotte Caffey, who later found success in the Go-Go’s. The band’s raw, abrasive sound — a blend of punk, rockabilly, blues and country — featured the wailing, slightly disjointed vocals of Doe and Cervenka.
X went on to record a number of scene-defining albums — “Los Angeles” (produced by Ray Manzarek of the Doors), “Wild Gift,” “Under the Big Black Sun” and “More Fun in the New World.” The show will be a musical history lesson for younger X fans, with about 30 songs.
“I think when we were younger we were pretty wild, especially me,” Cervenka said. “I mean, when I was 20, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
The band has grown and evolved musically over the years, sharing a natural kinship with roots-rock and alt-country.
“In some ways, we’re a better band than we ever were,” Cervenka said. “Nothing has gotten watered down. It’s still the same act. It’s just that we’re going to surprise people with all the things we’re capable of now.”