Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Punk pioneers X are as fierce as ever

Photo linked from X, the official band page!

Maybe you weren’t there when X came on the scene in the late ’70s. Maybe you weren’t born yet, and missed out seeing the band. It’s not your fault. It’s also not too late.

“I didn’t see Chuck Berry in 1958,” says John Doe, singer, bassist and co-founder of the Los Angeles punk pioneers. “But I saw him in 1972 and he fucking blew me away.”

X is no doubt influential. It was part of the first wave of American punk bands and instrumental in the West Coast scene. Its first two studio albums, “Los Angeles” and “Wild Gift,” are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time and “Los Angeles” was on Pitchfork’s Top 100 Albums of the ’80s. Those early releases (produced by the Doors Ray Manzarek) are the best representation of what the band did and continues to do and are the focus of the band’s current 1 1/2-hour set, which it brings to Strummer’s on Saturday on its Family X-Mas tour.

There is a certain longevity built into X’s music and songs like “The New World,” have the type of universal themes that will always find an audience, Doe says.

“We’ll be able to sing that song … as long as there are presidents elected.”

Plus, the band approaches live shows with a fierceness that defies generation gap. X has played close to 100 shows a year since 1999 (when it reunited with original guitarist Billy Zoom). That includes big festivals like SXSW and Coachella and tours with a reunited Rollins Bands (in 2006), Pearl Jam and Blondie (earlier this year).

The band may be less furious than it once was, but it’s more determined, Doe says.

This month, it kicked off its Family X-Mas tour, a two-week run with roots-rockers (and longtime friends) The Blasters.

The Blasters (which played Fulton 55 in March) are having a heck-of a year. The band was also an influential part of the late ’70s Los Angeles rock scene and have had a long affiliation with X. Dave Alvin (who founded the Blasters with his brother Phil) played guitar for X for a time. But the Blasters have been re-energized, Doe says, and come in with almost all of its original members.

“So it’s super deluxe.”

It’s an enjoyable thing to watch each night.

“Life is too short to not enjoy the people’s you’re with,” Doe says.
“That’s the advantage of getting to choose.”

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