No Lobotomy For Ex-X Co-Leader John Doe

Legendary artist excited about new Kill Rock Stars EP.

John Doe doesn't think releasing an album on the indie Kill Rock Stars label is inherently funny. He is a rock star, no doubt, a status he's earned after 20 years of grinding it out in the legendary L.A. punk band as well as on several solo albums. But to hear him talk, he wouldn't mind killing some, or being killed, if he starts acting like one.

"I'm really old," said singer/bassist Doe when asked his age. "X is officially over. We made our mark and then this came along and I thought it was a good way to get some stuff out there."

Doe is referring to both the recently-released X two-disc anthology, Beyond & Back and his upcoming five-song EP on Kill Rock Stars, For the Rest of Us (Jan. 13).

Backed by Beck's crack side men Joey Waronker (drums) and Smokey Hormel (guitar), Doe gets gritty on the collection, which stared out as some demos Doe didn't know what he'd do with. "I had these demos sitting around and we approached Slim Moon [owner of Kill Rock Stars]," said Doe, "and he thought it was something he would be interested in putting out."

"I didn't really know John before this," said Moon, an X fan since he was a kid. "But we met and really clicked and I asked him what his expectations were and why he wanted to be on Kill Rock Stars and I told him why I wanted to work with him and it really made sense."

Moon said he wanted to work with Doe not just because he has immense respect for him as one of the "great singer/songwriters of the past two decades," but also because Doe was down with the idea of putting out a record that wasn't as polished as his previous solo albums. "He's just as valid now as [in X's heyday]]. Whether somebody's been doing what they do for 20 years, or just a few years is not the relevant point. [The bottom line is} are they really great?"

The fact that Doe's new material wasn't too slick also appealed to Moon. "It's overproduced," he said. "John has a great voice. I've always liked the slower, moodier songs, and there's a couple of those on this thing."

Doe cryptically described the EP as "like [his previous solo album] Kissingsohard another step further."

He said the ballads "are more electronic and the rock stuff is more rock."

Included are the songs Let's Get Lost," "A Step Outside," "The Unhappy Song," "For the Rest of Us" and an alternate version of "This Loving Thing," which Doe co-wrote with the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl for the soundtrack to the movie Touch.

Moon described "The Unhappy Song," as "a totally rocking song with a weird talking part and a big scream in the middle."

He also said the non-Grohl version of "This Loving Thing," is the most stripped-down song on the set, featuring just Doe and his acoustic guitar. "It's a real quiet song," said Moon, "but it's not exactly folk either."

Asked if he's happy about getting back to his indie roots (X's first two albums were released on Slash), Doe said being happy has nothing to do with it. "Happiness is relative," he said, sounding like the punk icon that he is. "That's not my priority. If I wanted to be happy all the time, I could just go have a lobotomy." [Sat., Nov. 15, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]