Three chords, a driving beat, dark stringy hair, leather jackets and an anti-establishment bravado established the Ramones as one the most influential bands of rock-n-roll –innovators in the humble beginnings of punk rock. That is the sound that a young Billy Zoom discovered at a 1976 Ramones concert. From there Zoom, a guitar player met John Doe, a bass player, and singer after both musicians put up separate ads looking for band members. After recruiting poet Exene Cervenka as singer and drummer DJ Bonebrake, along with Zoom and Doe, X was formed and quickly established themselves as the voice the Los Angeles punk scene.
40 years down the road, X with their original line-up still intact is still going strong, as they have now influenced countless bands of multiple generations. X is celebrating 40 years as a band with eight epic upcoming X-Mas shows in Southern California. First up is four shows in San Diego at the Casbah, and four shows at the famed Roxy Theatre in Hollywood to close out 2016, back where it all started on the Sunset Strip.
A young punk band in 1977 did not look far down the road and think they would still be onstage, all four together so many years later, playing to packed houses of their uniquely devoted fan base. As singer Exene reflects on the past 40 years, “For a long time interviewers and X people we've met have asked us did you think when X started you'd still be playing together now? And our answer is surprisingly - No! Of course not! In 1976 I was 20; now I'm 60. How's that for weird?!”
Walking into an X show is like walking into a family of music lovers, which now has expanded from the bottom of generation X fans to the youngest millennials and beyond. X's solid fan following and support have always been a huge driving force to the band continuing as long as they have, with really no plans of stopping anytime soon.
At the heart, X is just a flat-out great rock band, and each live show proves this fact over and over again. Even though the band has not released an album of original material in years, the band still knows musical indentity and approach their impressive catalog of music with wild zeal on a nightly basis. Speaking on Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett's Walk the Floor podcast in 2013, singer Doe talked about what the band does best. Doe, "X is really great and at its best when we're playing punk rock. I think our first 3 or 4 records X recorded were really original - a great hybrid unlike nobody else, and I’m really proud of that.” Shifflett and his band will be one of the many opening acts for X in L.A. and this week's shows in San Diego.
For these special X-Mas shows, and to celebrate 40 years in music, the set lists are aimed at telling the history of X through music, while showcasing the raw power of punk that this transformative band still possesses in their live shows.
The four members of X are taking in what it means to be a band for 40 years together, as well as remaining close friends along the way. Yet, these giants of the L.A. punk scene are far from letting this current tour and more dates that will follow in 2017 be their last waltz. As Exene recalls on a recent post-gig van ride. “A couple of weeks ago we were in the van coming home from a show and started talking about this very exciting 40th Anniversary year coming up. Then Billy (Zoom) said: " That's nice. What are we doing for our 50th anniversary?" Aren't you glad X is still around? I am!”
X has special guest bands alternating opening duties each night of the X-Mas Southern California shows that begin in San Diego this weekend; with Mike Watt and the Secondmen, Small Wigs, the above mentioned Chris Shiflett, and longtime pals the Blasters rounding it out.
In 2017 X will be adding many more dates to their 40th anniversary tour, so check out their website for more information soon. If you have never been to an X show, you must see these punk legends. If it's been a while since you've seen an X show, go catch up with old friends, John, Exene, Billy, and DJ - you will not be disappointed, because X still knows how to rock!
X 40th Anniversary X-Mas Shows – Tickets available here.
Dec. 15 San Diego, CA @The Casbah W/Mike Watt & The Secondmen
Dec. 16 San Diego, CA @The Casbah W/The Blasters
Dec. 17 San Diego, CA @The Casbah W/Small Wigs
Dec. 18 San Diego, CA @The Casbah W/Chris Shiflett
Dec. 28 Hollywood, CA @The Roxy W/Mike Watt & The Secondmen
Dec. 29 Hollywood, CA @The Roxy W/The Blasters
Dec. 30 Hollywood, CA @The Roxy W/Small Wigs
Dec. 31 Hollywood, CA @The Roxy W/Chris Shiflett