Inquiring Minds

Inquiring Minds: Exene Cervenka on Losing a Friend, Weeping Willows, Albums as Collage and Her Good Buddy Biscuit

Exene Cervenka is one of those musicians who makes an interviewer nervous; like, you hope the questions you come up with are good enough not to piss her off, or worse, laugh at you. Besides a published poet and accomplished visual artist, Cervenka and now-ex-husband/recurrent musical collaborator John Doe founded arguably the seminal U.S. West Coast punk band - and certainly one of the first - in X.

The Southern California firebrands seared their rockabilly-influenced, surprisingly humorous (at times, anyway) gut-check rock into a pre-Alternative Nation's earholes via albums like 1980 debut Los Angeles, '81's Wild Gift and the next year's Under the Big Black Sun, which spawned piss-and-vinegar anthems including "Johnny Hit & Run Pauline," "We're Desperate" and "The Hungry Wolf."

After X cooled down, Cervenka and Doe joined up with Blasters buddy Dave Alvin to form the country (but still rockin') combo the Knitters; she then went on to record solo albums and take her place at the head of the '90s riot-grrrl pack in Auntie Christ. Most recently, she released Somewhere Gone (Bloodshot), an intimate, acoustic collection of love-and-loss songs (check out "Trojan Horse") recorded with a cast of musicians including ex-Skeleton Lou Whitney, current touring partner Dexter Romweber and late Austin-born violinist Amy Farris.

As it turned out, Cervenka, reached last week at her home in SoCal, was exceedingly pleasant and willing to talk about anything, from how the loss of her friend Farris has affected her set list and the similarities between her collages and making an album to her admiration for Texas musicians in general and the wild nights she and X had with the Big Boys and their late singer, Cervenka's close friend and fellow visual artist Randy "Biscuit" Turner.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray