Don't talk to former X singer Exene Cervenkova about the past. As
far as she's concerned, the past is all too much a part of the living
present--and whether you're talking about politics or punk rock, that's not a
Now fronting the band Auntie Christ with fellow X-er D.J.
Bonebrake on drums and Rancid's Matt Freeman on bass, Cervenkova, who is in her
40s, rails against such '80s headline grabbers as crack, the N.R.A. and strip
mines on the new song "Bad Trip," which leads off their debut disc Life
Could Be A Dream (Lookout).
To look at the album's lyric sheet, you
might think President Ronald Reagan were still in office. "I can see Ronald
Reagan's face in the clouds," sings Cervenkova, and indeed, there's the
Gipper's mug right next to the words.
Cervenkova (formerly Cervenka) told
ATN that she doesn't believe America is making a return to the excesses of 10
years ago. Rather, she asserts that the 1980s were never left behind, and
indeed that the decade will haunt the nation for years to come.
Reagan years will damage this society for the rest of our lives," says
Cervenkova. "What Reagan and Bush--who was really president at that time--what
those 12 years did was deregulation, all the ecology damage, and all the
military damage, and the civil wars in Central America. The legacy of that will
keep returning to us forever."
According to Cervenkova, firsthand observers
of the damage have a duty to today's children to bear witness to what she says
Reagan did. "They have to be reminded that this is the person who ruined your
life. If you want someone to blame, you can look at this person, who was just a
senile puppet, who handed over the reigns of government to all the corporations
that wanted a piece, and all the people that wanted to go in and loot
everyone's savings accounts. That's why now your taxes are so high. And that's
why now your life is so fucked. And that's why now there's all these refugees
Fans of X will instantly peg the voice on "Bad Trip" and its
nine companion tunes...
Fans of X will instantly peg the voice on "Bad Trip" and
its nine companion tunes as Cervenkova's. They might even hear the ghost of X
in the chord changes that precede "Rat In The Tunnel Of Love," or in the
frenzied chorus to "The Nothing Generation." But different times call for
different measures; as a three piece band, Auntie Christ is a much more ragged
sounding outfit than their predecessors. Gone are John Doe's roots rock
leanings, to be replaced by Cervenkova's desperate, lean guitar.
folks would even venture to describe the album as "punk," although Cervenkova
might challenge that point. According to the singer and guitarist, there are no
punk kids today, only consumers of punk trappings. "It would be impossible to
be a punk rocker and be rebellious in this generation," she said. "It's
embraced as just another fashion trend and just another thing to buy. As long
as you're buying something, you're OK. You fit in, you're normal, you're
playing the game, you're right. It's when you don't buy stuff" that you
can best monkey wrench the system.
That said, Cervenkova's not some aging
punk rocker raving about a loss of the good ol' days. In fact, she not only
said she holds out hope for the today's kids; she demands something new and
vibrant from them.
"My idea of the younger generation, the generation from
about 13 to 20, is they're the luckiest people alive," she said. "Because
they're 13 to 20--they're young, they're beautiful, they're strong, they're
healthy, they're invincible. They just have so much power. So you have to give
something back for that gift, which is you have to create something new. And if
you have to destroy half of society to do it, that's the trade."
as those kids are forging tomorrow's punk equivalent, Cervenkova is winding up
an inspirational blueprint for them in the form of a two-disc X retrospective
anticipated for fall release.
"It's gonna have a lot of stuff people
haven't heard," said Cervenkova, "and it's gonna have a lot of alternative
[material] to the album stuff. We never recorded anything alike... These are
more like older songs that were more like rough mixes. More rough recordings.
It's gonna be raw and I hope people will be inspired by that."