Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: X

X. (Photo: Courtesy of Gary Leonard)
X. (Photo: Courtesy of Gary Leonard)

X, one of the only punk bands from the nascent period of the musical genre that’s still together, has almost been together for 40 years. Exene Cervenka, the group’s vocalist, said the reason the band has been able to stay together for so long is that they are still alive.

“Most bands can’t say that, and that’s unfortunate,” Cervenka said. “I think that we get along better than we ever did and we appreciate the amazing fact that we can play one more show. We don’t know how much longer it’s going to last, so we really value all of our time together as much as possible.”

X is coming to Falls Church on Friday, Aug. 12 for a show at The State Theatre that is part of its Re-Zoomed Tour. The reason for the name is because the group is being rejoined by Billy Zoom, the group’s guitarist and one of its founding members, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer in 2015.

He spent several months in treatment and Jesse Dayton, who has worked with Waylon Jennings, stood in during that time. But Zoom said that he was cancer-free in October 2015 and recently started touring again with the group. It was his second time being diagnosed with cancer – he survived prostate cancer more than six years ago.

“He’s doing great…and he’s really amazing and he loves playing and he is really looking forward to touring,” Cervenka said.

“I’ve always loved touring, but it’s really hard…and the fact that he can still do that and still wants to do it is great. It does get a little hard, but it’s the life we picked. We’re all artists and musicians.”

Cervenka said that she got “emotional and sad” about hearing that Zoom getting cancer both times he was diagnosed. “We’ve been around forever and we’ve known each other forever, so it was really devastating, but we just hoped for the best,” she said. “And it’s turning out great. It’s like another gift that he’s good.”

Perhaps another gift that X has been given is the gift of time. When they started the seminal punk band in 1977, Cervenka, Zoom, vocalist/bassist John Doe and drummer D.J. Bonebrake were all in their 20s. Nearly all of the other punk bands from the genre’s first and second waves either didn’t survive that period, disbanded or had long periods of time when they weren’t playing together.

And even members of X have either played solo or worked on side projects in the time between when they founded the group and now. Cervenka said that X has matured a lot since they began playing together.

“We spend so much time apart and it’s partially what happens to you when you’re not together that makes you who are. We all have kids and we all had things to deal with financially or health-wise,” Cervenka said. “So when you get together at shows – we don’t just see each other at shows, but mostly on tour – we pick up where we left off.

“I think one thing that people don’t understand getting older, which I do now, is how incredibly hard it is to get older and how you can become a better person as you get older. A lot of people don’t, but I guess we all went the opposite way.”

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