Sometimes, when you are aware that life is a journey, you take notice in the little things other people just don't; the brilliant color of a flower in the ever-darkening rays of a sunset, the infinite of the universe as you stare up into a clear night sky, the smell of new life when you become a parent. And, you also take notice of those around you. We meet people every day, but most, at least to me, seem far too absorbed in the act of obtaining a life rather than living it. They work hard to put food on the table, they buy their big screen plasma televisions, they have a big home, they seem happy and yet, they also seem lifeless; people without any thoughts other than their immediate concerns.
But once in awhile, you are given an opportunity to meet someone who can reach down through the facade of modern thinking to remind you what it is to be human and the significance of being alive. Exene Cervenka is one of those people. An accomplished poet, musician, author and artist, she has been able to touch the lives of everyone from the kids in the violent slam pits of the early California punk scene to the artist who reflects upon her work hanging on a gallery wall.
It is impossible to speak with her without being transported to another place, another time, another emotion...I found myself completely absorbed by her words; and soon, found myself forgetting about time, about this being an "interview", it was like meeting an intriguing person on a high-speed train from Paris to Berlin and knowing you had but a few moments to talk with them, and finding, much to your joy, that time seemed to have stopped.
I found myself staring at the variety of colors of the candy being sold in an old-timey store in rural Illinois, feeling the creative excitement and smelling the ocean air mixed with urban pollution of the beach ghetto that Venice once was, I saw the faces of young punk rockers in legendary clubs with their eyes full of life and passion, I grew angry at the injustices of a system which holds little regard for the people living under it and I also felt the fear of waiting for a doctor to look up from a sheet of blood test results...
Thank you Exene for showing me these things.
ThrashHead: Tell me about your life before California, what made you the outspoken, creative person who the world was first introduced to through X? What was your childhood like?
Exene: Everything in my upbringing may be what I am, however, inadvertently. In other words, it wasn't like I was trained to be a singer or an artist or anything like that. On the contrary, there were no books or records in my house, because it was very uneventful life, but I questioned things at a very early age, I was always in trouble and considered very "bad" because I would say things which would upset the apple cart. Just questioning "why is this?", "why is that?"...but, the way I ended up being the way I am, is my survival skill, I think I was born an artist, a writer, all those things I do...I just had to have the nerve to pursue it, you know...and I did.
ThrashHead: You were a creative personality born with an insatiable need to create?
ThrashHead: ...And to question the world around you...that I can completely understand, I've written a book, it's nothing important, I'm a painter, don't play gallery politics very much, member of the Stuckist movement, don't know if you've heard of that group which began in England, they protest against gallery corruption and certain aspects of modern art... Damien Hearst. But I can understand that, ever since I was a kid, since I could a pick up a pencil, that was all I knew how to do, I couldn't really integrate myself into society, in the certain sense of living in a cubicle and accumulating material wealth...I guess that's one of the reasons why I live where I do I suppose...
Exene: I'm a girl, so in the 60's and 70's growing up, it wasn't a big idea to opt outta of that, the sexism of the south in the 70's...I had to put up with so much sexual harassment, to just keep up a shitty, minimum wage waitress job...even not that. I didn't have the temptation to succeed, I didn't have the temptation to go school because I didn't have the money; I was on my own when I was 17...so, I didn't do that. But, what I did tell myself was that I had two options: I could learn how to type and be a typist or I could write and be a writer. I decided to be a writer not a typer....
ThrashHead: It's the correct choice without a doubt...no ands, ifs, or butts...
Exene: I would have made more money as a typer, but that's ok...
(both heartily laugh)
ThrashHead: When was it,76- 77? When you finally did go to California, punk rock lore tells us of you having a chance encounter at the Beyond Baroque poetry workshop down in Venice beach, could you take me through that day?
Exene: Well, (pauses), this place Beyond Baroque, back then when Jerry Brown was governor ,as he is now, there were programs for people like me, women, who had no skills, high school drop outs to learn how to type...but what I really learned was paste-up and layout , back then we had to do it by hand.
At the Beyond Baroque there were magazines and stuff and I worked in the library so I got this job there through that organization, they paid my salary and training... I was living upstairs in this little apartment which was above this liquor store that was in front of Beyond Baroque. so, I had it all...I had the biggest small press library in the world, I had this great poetry resource center, there was a bar next door, a liquor store down below, I was living in the worst part of Venice, which is now the best part of Venice ...and it was awesome, so incredibly interesting.
So, I decided to go the poetry workshop on a Wednesday night, sat down in a chair and, there were like, people filing in, maybe 20-25 people and chairs for maybe fifty, people were sitting here and there and John came in and he sat down right next me, even though there were plenty of seats, but he sat right next to me and he kinda said hi, I said hi back, and the person who came up to moderate the poetry workshop said "the first thing I want you to do is write down your ten favorite poets on a piece of paper" and I just went "Huh? No, I don't know ten poets, I only know a couple...I don't know what he's talking about." So, I was sitting there thinking, "God this is already a test you know, I wanted to come here to listen to poetry, to write poetry and now they're giving me a fuckin' school test!". So, I looked over at John's list to see who he was writing and I saw that he wrote John Lennon on there, and then kept writing like "I am writing all my names down just sitting here" and then he wrote John Lennon again at the end, so I touched him on the arm and said "Oh, by the way, I'm sorry, but you wrote John Lennon on your list twice." And that was the first thing I said to him. (laughs)
After the poetry workshop we went to the bar next store and had a glass of wine and then we went upstairs to my apartment and stayed up and talked for a long time , he was smoking these really smelly French cigarettes , he was from the East Coast and new all these things I didn't know, all sorts of stuff, because I never lived in a big city...it was an interesting meeting.
ThrashHead: That's how you ran into John Doe, then?
Exene: Mmm hmm , he told me that he had already met Billy by then; you see, he just moved there too...I moved there just a month, maybe two months before that and he met Billy already, and he told me about The Mask and there were bands playing. The only thing I knew of punk rock was, I knew who the Ramones were, I knew who Patti Smith was, I knew a little bit about that kinda stuff, it was early on.
ThrashHead: It was the 70's, punk in California was just around the corner and you guys helped to bring that on...
Exene: Towards the end of '76 is what we're talking about, fall of '76 the hardcore scene really didn't start where I lived, in the south bay it may have been around earlier, it wasn't until a little later that really kind of integrated into what I was doing.
ThrashHead: When you think of that time, that moment in your life, what kind of emotions do you feel, do you think there was a hand of fate...in that one moment...that's rock n roll history right there.
Exene: Well maybe for you, but I sometimes think of others things I may have done; what if I had gone to school, or if I had become a psychiatrist, what if I had gone to school and gotten a PHD in something and done some amazing work?...I don't know...if I had a different upbringing or background, I could have done different things; as it is, I am amazed I am alive and in one piece, that I did anything at all. I mean , I've struggled my whole life to do what I have done, it's been nothing but hard.
So, fate? I don't know, I am doing what I was born to do. I think one of the biggest problems in our society, beside a financially corrupt, evil, Luciferian cabal ruling the world, the other thing which is bad is that when people are born, the first focus should be who is this person, who are they really, what are they destined to be, what are they good at, what should they do with their life, and then let them express that until it becomes more obvious as life goes on and then guide them into that world. If that was done then you'd have 100% productivity in the world, and hardly any conflict. It'd be "Oh I'm good at this and this is what I do, what do you do?" "I'm good at this, this is what I do" "Ok good!" you know what I mean?
So, that's what I tried to do, I tried to be that; this is what I am supposed to be and this is what I am going to do. If everybody did that, there would be no choice but to let us do it. But, alas...alas...
ThrashHead: Society dictates you have to follow certain norms, procedures, to become successful in life...but that's not true, depends on one's definition of success. I have a lot of questions, especially on certain things you fill strongly about, but touching on X a little bit , there's many kids who know Los Angeles, they might have seen the Decline of the Western civilization, but taking a step back...John and Billy had begun X...
Exene: No, they hadn't begun X yet, they had jammed a little bit, playing some Carl Perkins songs and a couple of John's songs, jamming around trying to figure out if they could play together .
ThrashHead: John Introduced you to Billy...
ThrashHead: How did it come around to you actually jumping into the band?
Exene: Well, John liked my writing a lot, the why he sings and the why he writes is really good, but he's also very academic, very intellectual, learned and a natural talent as well, he had other sides to him, whereas I had nothing , no practice, no experience, no lessons, no nothin'. I didn't know anything about anything when it came to music or singing. So, he liked that about me, he thought that the two things together...because, I think, he thought what he was doing was good but, it wasn't, you know, maybe enough, edgy enough let's say or something and so, you get three guys together, then you get the Police, big deal right? Anyway, I wrote a song, not for him or anything, just to write it, called "I'm Coming Over" and I sang it to him, it had the melodies , the lyrics and everything, and he thought it was really good and said he wanted to play it. I asked "what do you mean?" and he said "I want to play it with my band", I said "No, you can't because it's my song" and he went "well, I know it's your song, I'm just going to sing it and put music do it"
"It has music"
"No, it has melody"
"no it has music"
"no it has melody" and then we got in this sort of argument and I just said no and he said "alright, I'll tell ya what, would you sing it?" Now, I said "sure"
ThrashHead: Cool, you stuck to your guns, dammit it's my song... (Note: the song "I'm Coming Over" demo version appears on the 2001 CD reissue of Los Angeles as a bonus track.)
ThrashHead: He gave in and said alright it's your song, you sing it so, that's how X was born?
Exene: Giving John shit all the time is basically how it works...
Exene: But the thing is, in romantic things, love things, or whatever you want to call, I'm not very good, but when it comes to things like my art, my music, my work, my business and my life, I'm very protective and determined and ambitious and work very hard...see very clearly. I realize, if I gave him that song, I really didn't know him that well, that I had written a really good song and would've given it away...that was all I had.
ThrashHead: Like giving a piece of your soul away without getting anything back for it. You become involved in X and you guys start working together, down the road you do "Los Angeles", there are only a handful of albums in that early, I would say," nouveau counter culture", punk rock scene on the west coast that have stood the test of time...every song on it is absolutely incredible; what was fueling the creative process on that? What was inspiring you?
Exene: Everything was inspiring me, everything was inspiring John, everywhere we went, everything we did. I mean, you go to L.A. for the first time from living in rural Florida, you are going to have some pretty eye opening moments, pretty much everything ...a person would say to me, "you want to go get some breakfast" and I would be like "well, I don't have any money" "Oh I'll buy you breakfast" and I would be like "oh my god this person can afford to buy me breakfast" and then they would take me to eat and they'd say "Would you like a bagel" and I would say "what's a bagel?" and they'd go like "What's a bagel!?!"...
(I can't help but laugh, I can hear in her voice she's smiling too.)
..."You've never heard of a bagel!?!"...I didn't know what a bagel was . So, stuff like that, you see a limousine go by and you'd wonder who was in it, Fleetwood Mac probably , you'd flip them off or whatever and they'd be going to the record plant to work on their big epic 3 million dollar record, doing coke in there or whatnot, and it was just hilarious and there we were just bumbling along.
ThrashHead: All your music is so passionate, even on the album "Los Angeles" you can feel how passionate the songs are...you follow up with "Wild Gift" and, by then, all the critics are ranting and raving even Rolling Stone is calling it the record of the year, the Village Voice is going off...
...You guys are getting recognition from some of the most finicky of the artistic elite and still it's a punk rock album, you guys are out there in the underground of the west coast getting these praises...but the album that comes out after that , "Under the Big Black Sun", shows X evolving more...it begins to lean towards a sense of Americana , there is a Lead Belly cover "Dancing with Tears In My Eyes", Ray Manzarek not only produces but plays keyboards again...
Exene: Well, he played on the first one...
ThrashHead: He did.
...He played on "Los Angeles "and Billy played Saxophone on the third record in a song called "Come Back To Me" But, yeah , it was different, we were moving in a different direction, but you know we had songs like "Adult Books" (on Wild Gift) and "Blue Spark" we were always different than (pauses)...but see, that's what people don't understand, a band like The Plugz, The Blasters, X, The Germs, The Wierdos, The Alley Cats; none of those bands sounded anything like each other and they had this really good range of music, The Zeroes (California punk band, not U.K.), all these bands...so, when I think of the best bands, I think of the Plugz because Tito could play the guitar like crazy, he was a great singer, great lyricist, great songwriter, great musician and they were like one of those really amazing bands, that did a lot like X with the different types of music , but then it was more like traditional Mexican music while also being American.
ThrashHead: There was a wider variety music, bands had their own artistic inspiration because it was so new, there was no MTV, it hadn't dug it's talons into music at all...
Exene: MTV's first music awards I think was in '85, I think it started in the early 80's it wasn't pervasive. I didn't know anybody who owned a television
ThrashHead: At that time, no one I knew was actually watching MTV in '82, '83, '84 because it held no interest to us, we were getting our albums, X albums, from wherever we could ....when I was a kid at that time, we lived up in the mountains of Colorado and a lot of the music we could get our hands on was because somebody was rolling through town on their way up to Aspen or down to Denver, whatever, and at that time, the place was this small town in the middle of nowhere and we'd get a cassette that was a recording of a recording of a recording...I remember that's how I got introduced to X, a guy had come into town, he said he lived on the West Coast and that I had to check this band out...that's pretty much how we got introduced to most everybody whether it was heavy metal, punk or whatever genre, we heard everything second hand. But the great thing about that was, at the time, only the greatest bands survived because people were taking the time to record their albums and sharing them and saying "Hey look, you have to listen to these guys." and of course, once we could even get an album we were ecstatic; " oh my god, I just got the SST catalogue", I friend of mine is going to San Francisco, "bring me back X, bring back Dead Kennedys, bring me back this and that..."
But jumping back to your third album "Under The Big Black Sun" , there is a lot more significance to that album for you, I mean some people know and mention it, with songs like "Riding With Mary" , "Come Back to Me"... what does it mean to you?
Exene: You know it's weird, my sister was killed the weekend Los Angeles came out, I was at the Whiskey getting ready to go onstage for the second show of the night, we were releasing the record and it was our big night, people were lined up all the way down Sunset Blvd to see us for both shows and Ray was playing with us. It was this big weekend because my sister had made an underground film with her soon to be ex-husband, which she was in, and that was going to play; then after the first show she wasn't there yet, and I thought that it was weird because she should have already been there, then the cops came and told me she had been killed.
ThrashHead: Oh my god...
Exene: That was the weekend after John and I were married in Tijuana and it was like "Ahhhh..." . The thing was, my mother died before that, but that was a much more difficult death to get through. I find death, this may be a kind of consolation to your younger readers, is that the older you get, the easier death is...I know that sounds bad, but the thing is that you learn you don't have to feel guilty if you get back to living again after someone dies. I didn't know that, so, I spent the next couple of years pretty messed up, that's why it took a couple years before the songs about her actually came out. Because, I wasn't ready, you know...if you break with somebody, or they break up with you, you might sit right down and write a song and play it that night, but with something like that it was like years of processing it.
ThrashHead: Being able to come to terms with it.
Exene: Yeah...so we were more mature as people, I mean with something like that you are altered forever, you're not at all the same girl you were.
(There is a reflective moment of silence)
ThrashHead: The change becomes obvious, because on that album, the emotions, the musical talent is developed, it's become more mature, the songwriting is absolutely phenomenal...out of the three it's my favorite album because you feel it...I mean, on the early ones with a song like "Nausea", you feel X, you feel the aggressive, you know, "screw the norm" message of X, but "Under The Big Black Sun", it becomes more apparent who you and John are, the musicians and poets that you are, you begin to get a sense of the morose, you physically feel the pain, love and loss...and it's a beautiful album because of it.
Last question about the punk scene at that time, I have to ask, what are some of your fondest, and maybe, not so fond memories of those years in Southern California and who were the cast of Characters?
Exene: Well, I've found over the years, much to my surprise and dismay, that reality is so incredibly subjective, that every single person from that scene who you ask about it will have a different view of it, mainly because everybody was so fucked up.
The thing about it which was so different was, we weren't fucked up on something like coke, we didn't do that, later when people got on the road, you start playing the Greek Theater , people start knocking on the dressing room door "how did you get back here?" "Oh I brought the coke." you know, that kind of stuff, Hollywood shit. We were drinking plain-wrap beer , Mickey's Big Mouth, there was some local brewery in East L.A. , East Side Beer, I think it was called, it was awesome...you know that kind of thing, 99 cents for a six pack...we were always drinking and taking speed, it was like weird bikery kind of shit.
So, everybody has a different perspective because I might have been really drunk and the person next to me could have been really racing on speed, sober as could be otherwise, and seeing things completely different from me; I'm getting in a fight with someone at the same time they're mesmerized by a band, the focus was all over the place then.
There was an energy level, not only in Los Angeles , but in every city we went to, that I thought I would never see again until I went to South America. I think it's the fluoride they're putting in the water, or something, because I grew up my whole life with nothing but the excitement of Rock N Roll, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Punk scene, and then all of a sudden everything became hollowed out crap.
Sometimes people will say things that I find to be astonishingly off. John and I lived just down the street from the Starwood, and we would go out, John and I would almost always go out together, but once we got there we'd go our separate directions , he'd go off to do one thing, I'd go off to do another thing. We'd go out four or five times a week, if we weren't rehearsing, out flyering, or at a party. We'd go to the Whisky and see Siouxsie and the Banshees and the next night we'd go see the Germs, and then the next we'd see a bunch of rockabilly bands like Levi and The Rockats or something, the next night Carl Perkins, then we'd rehearse, we'd play...I mean it was like that, it was insane. It's a blur, people ask me all the time when I am going to write a book about my life, when I remember it maybe, if ever... I don't know, you tell me and I'll write it down.
(I bust out laughing)
I guess what I remember about it, it seemed very much like the 1920's, I always dressed up with my hair done, my makeup, my lipstick, my vintage clothing, all my jewelry ...I bought everything in thrift stores you know, but I had a really great sense, I felt it was a glamorous time in a lotta ways, even the girls who were trying to look ugly, because they were song young and vital, with the spike hair, no eyebrows, black eyes...(laughs), you know...they were beautiful, I don't mean that in any sexual or sexist way, there was glamour to it. And the boys, they were in their prime, the boys were beautiful young men, who'd open your beer bottle with their teeth if you ask them too...
...this one guy, I was "Oh no, I'm locked outta my house", and he goes "you don't have a key?" and I'm like "no" "Is there another way in?", I tell him: "Well, there's a window up by the roof" and says "Ok, well, I think there's a way we can work this out" or something , "Oh good, thank god" and he then he just breaks the window and jumps in! "Couldn't you just have looked to see if the window was unlocked?"
But we were like that, everything was dangerous, but nothing was really "illegal" then, I mean it was, but it wasn't like a police state like it was now. Crazy, crazy out of control.
ThrashHead: A lot of vitality, a lot of creativity, insanity, unbridled youth and beautiful humanity all around, an awesome time.
Exene: Yeah, but you know it's like everything, if you don't focus that energy into a beam, you just implode, most people did kinda implode. A lot of people did really neat things, went on to become school teachers, kept playing, became art directors, moved to different countries ...a lot of interesting stuff.
ThrashHead: But there was also a lot of people who didn't make it out of there...Darby Crash...
Exene: There is always the first wave of car accidents, accidental death and drugs, you get through that...and you are like "Whoa, boy that was a rough patch and everything's fine" and then you hit another wave and then you get to my age and you get the big wave and it's "Ohh, not looking forward to this period". But, you know, I missed the other ones so what the hell? But, yes it is really sad cause, no one could've guessed who would be alive now... do you think you'd still be doing this stuff? I don't know, ask Joey Ramone, ask Darby, ask anybody, did they think they would not being doing it? I don't know, we didn't think that way, we also felt we were going to live forever and also we were going to die tomorrow, that's the way it was.
ThrashHead: Fatalistic point of view; live life to the fullest while you can. In "The Decline of Western Civilization" your wall, I remember where they were interviewing you, and everyone was in, what I guess to be, your flat, and you guys were tattooing yourselves and talking, and you had this whole wall covered with stuff you got from Sunset Blvd...I can't remember exactly, it's been a long time since I've seen the documentary , you're wall was covered in with religious pamphlets..
Exene: Yeah, I collected those
...and later on in "Decoupage 2000: Return of The Goddess" you give a spoken word performance of "They must be Angels" where you make the statement "UFOs and the blessed Virgin Mary are the same phenomenon"...What are your views on the role religion plays in this world? Is it a positive or negative aspect to human existence?
Exene: Well, I was raised Catholic, I'm half Bohemian, half Irish, when I grew up I lived out in the country in Illinois, my Irish grandparents lived with us, my mom's parents...they hardly spoke English, my grandfather had been in the IRA and he had fled Ireland and they had gone to Chicago, that's where my mother was born, that's where my father had met my mother and after they had gotten married he move my mother, my sister and me out to the middle of fuckin' nowhere, out in the farmlands.
You're raised Irish Catholic, the only thing in the town was... no stoplights or anything, there was a gas station, a little train station by the railroad tracks and there was one store which was Wanamaker's . It had a traditional wooden sidewalk, you go inside, wood floors, there's penny candy , there's meat, there's everything...it was an old, old fashioned store, that was all that town had except for St. Mary's church and St. Mary's school, where I went. So, from when I was 6 until I was about 12, I would go there seven times a week to church, seven times a week. One of my earliest memories, when I was in like second grade, the girls had to wear really strict uniforms , these hound toothed checked black and white jumpers with a white blouse with round collar, a blue or black sweater, a red corduroy beanie, blue or black knee highs and black shoes and that was it, you couldn't digress from that or you'd be sent home. The boys could wear anything they wanted. So, one day, I raised my hand and asked the nun how come the girls had to wear uniforms and the boys didn't. I swear it was like everything stopped while every child in the room looked down at their clothes, looked the boy's next to them clothes, looked over at me, looked down again, looked at each other and went "yeah why?"... I was in sooo much trouble you can't believe it.
ThrashHead: Oh, I am absolutely positive of it; you're in a Catholic School and you just turned on a light, demanding an answer to a basic, fundamental question, why? Just Why? That question alone isn't just saying why are we wearing different clothes, you're questioning the dogma, the beliefs and sexism of the establishment.
Exene: Right. By then, the sexism had gotten pretty bad, we had already learned about Adam and Eve, and they start beating you in the room just because your female. The Catholic thing is the bastardization of pagan beliefs, they are all Neolithic, humans stone age emergence, you think about that and think about the Goddesses of Mexico, Ireland and the true pagan beginnings of these Catholic traditions. It's just such a bastardization of everything, a hodgepodge. The crucifix in front of our Church was a bigger than life-size Jesus on a cross, wearing barely anything, a little rag, drenched in fucking blood, with a big gaping wound in his side, blood dripping out of his hands, his face covered in blood, a crown of thorns, his eyes rolled up into his head, mouth agape, and I had to sit there seven days a week and look up to pray to him. I mean, that is perverse to do to a little kid, perverse!
ThrashHead: In today's world religion is tearing the everything apart, we are on the verge of seeing a real possibility of having a hardcore fundamentalist Christian elected as President of The United States....
Exene: As opposed to what? A fascist clone like we have now?
ThrashHead: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act....
Exene: He's signed worse than that since.
ThrashHead: Exactly, the Constitution is in real danger... on the 16th, and you've mentioned this, he signed the Executive Order-National Defense Preparedness ...which some say outlines peacetime martial law, with the patriot act, the war on terror, the blatant manipulation to polarize them with fear...
Exene: Oh, there's another one, there's HR-347 which makes it illegal for anyone to protest where secret service is present, knowingly or unknowingly, it is a federal crime, a felony, to protest if the secret service is present even if you don't know they are there. So, let's say you decide to protest at a Governor's event, you think a Governor wouldn't have secret service, well he might, he could call the President any time he wants and have them sent out... you just wouldn't know. All the teachers are on strike, outside protesting , they are going to prison. Not only that, it also makes it the same federal crime, a felony, to protest at like, it's worded something like this, a national event of political significance, or something crazy like that.
There's a huge power struggle going on right now, with the executive branch of the government, I shouldn't even be talking about it, but it is like three times a day you have conversations with friends where you say "Now you know how it felt in Nazi Germany", I know, Nazi Germany references, I am very careful about that, but now I know how it felt to be my ancestors in Czechoslovakia; "Oh my God, I'm an artist they are going to kill me" , I mean that is what happened all across Europe, millions of people, by Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, millions of people died because they weren't , by some weird definition, "normal".
But, you know what? That really was just a big financial escapade, you know...collateral damage.
ThrashHead: Just now, by you saying that you shouldn't be saying this and making references to Nazi Germany , is a symptom of what I think is a fear being instilled in the American populace because what you are saying, people may misconstrue as you referencing the ovens of the concentration camps and the holocaust, which you aren't at all, if one looks at the political actions of some in Washington, there are parallels... just the burning of the Reichstag for example...
Exene: Yeah and 911...
...Where Hitler took the opportunity to blame the Communist of this and say "If you're not with us, you're against us" Just like George W. Bush said....But, what is really happening to this country? I mean as you and John so eloquently put it, "This Is Supposed To Be The New World" isn't it?
Exene: Well, you know, I am well versed in what's happening now and how we got here and whether or not it continues to happen depending on what intervenes. People talk about conspiracy theories, because they used to be really funny. If you take them individually, sometimes they can be a little kooky, but if you take them all and put them together...they'll then fit together like a puzzle and there's a picture which makes total sense.
I had people who are politically astute, Obama supporters, and who know better, say to me: "Are you voting for Obama?" and I'd say " No!" , then they say "Well, who are you going to vote for?" I go "Ron Paul", they answer with "But he's crazy" It's like, no, crazy is killing America citizens without a jury, that's crazy! I'll tell them they should know about this thing the NDAA , they'll say "No, never heard of it", I'll explain what it is and they'll say "Oh, Exene, don't be silly, where did you read that?" I'm like "On the White House website or The Department of Homeland Security Bulletin or the FBI community bulletin, or NASA or the NSA, that's where I read it!" It's true, the Congressional record.
ThrashHead: Why do you think people are that way? You talk about conspiracy theories, there are the waaay out there conspiracy theories where people say there is a Reptilian and Gray conspiracy where governments are run by Reptilians...then there are "conspiracy theories" which are really not conspiracy theories at all which outline there is an elitist group of financial and political interests in this world that essentially get together and say "listen, we need to open up a corridor to these resources, how are we going to do that?" and people don't seem to understand that, they still hold onto the belief that each country independently governs itself and there is not twenty, thirty, five hundred, a thousand people who have meetings periodically, outside of all civilian or governmental rules and regulations, constitutional rules and regulations of governance...."Listen, I we need a pipeline to the Caspian Sea, but Iran is a problem, we need to take care of it."...why do people find that so hard to believe, why are some so blind?
Exene: Let me put it to you, in allegorical terms , you're married, you have a wonderful wife and two kids and you couldn't be happier and you begin to suspect that your wife may be cheating on you and people start to hint around and you keep insisting no, it couldn't be true. In fact, you're positive it couldn't be true, even when you're confronted by the evidence, you're positive it can't be true, it can't be true.
And what happens? The world falls apart, you're completely devastated, you'd rather go on lying to yourself for the rest of your life but knowing something's wrong. That's it, people don't want to upset things. It doesn't matter what they think, because they're the ones that dragged us into this fucking mess by being apathetic and stupid, by not thinking and by succumbing to the temptations of this world which we are forced fed. They are the reason why people like us are now fighting for our lives, ahead of the curve of the tidal wave which they don't even know is coming. But, they are going to find out in really short order. Very quickly this whole thing is coming down, the financial system is coming down and that's why over 350 CEOs, Board Members, CFOs of major international corporations, financial institutions, have resigned in the last two months.
Exene: The rats are leaving the ship! There are sites which keep track of them; my friend and I were doing it and finally we said we just couldn't keep track of them anymore, there are just too many! Then, we found a site where someone else was doing it, and we read about it instead of keeping track ourselves; it was just way too much work. The thing is, the reason the President is signing all these executive orders and their suspending all our rights after 911 with the Patriot Act and all this, happened because there's a last push to globalize and consolidate everything into this hegemonic system to where everyone is literally chipped, observed and slaves and want to wipe out the population; this is all proven, documented ...you can go to primary source documents, you don't have to see it on the internet or take my word for it, just look it up.
The reason they are stepping it up so fast right now, so fast, I think, is because of 911, because there are so many 911 truth organizations now and they all say...the...exact...same...thing! And they beat it into people's heads. The one that started it, well the Families really started it, the organization that's really going to change things is Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, because they went through all the evidence and said "wait a minute, no steel framed high-rise had ever fallen due to fire before or since 911 so how come it happened three times that day?" so, from there the 911 story has unraveled. Now there are pilots, scientists, firefighters, military officers and all kinds of people for 911 truth.
ThrashHead: So, you think the truth is coming out and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. Is that why we see an increase in legislation to limit the freedom of the internet, which are being done under the guise to protect copyrights and intellectual property, like SOPA, do you think things like that is an attempt to stop this type of "chatter"?
Exene: Well, I'll tell you something, If the Recording Industry Association of America cared about copyrights I'd have money in my bank account, let me put it that way. That is a criminal network, just like the Motion Picture Association of America, those two are criminal networks . What they do is extort money out of people's broken hearts and they make me really, sad that they exist.
So, no, they're doing this to shut down the internet; the reason why they want to shut down the internet is because they don't want any of that 911 footage on there anymore. I'm telling ya, anybody reading this, if you haven't looked at it, if you haven't investigate any of it, you will be kicking yourself later saying "how could I have been so blind" and you'll be part of this horrible genocide coming our way, we need to wake everybody up. It's really important, and so much so, I know that when I say that, I am already a suspect for being... an artist, which I've been my whole life.
ThrashHead: End up on an FBI watch list....
Exene: Oh, I'm already on it, I'm on all those, Secret Service, and all that...but, I don't care because you know what? This is when you weigh what you are. I am not like those people, I'm not one who would run someone over with my car because there is a pretty girl standing across the street...you know what I mean? These people are beyond sociopaths, they are a bunch of inbred...I don't consider them human, I don't know what they are exactly.
You know things keep coming out, we got Wikileaks, Anonymous, all stuff going on and one of these days, it won't be long...it's like operation Fast and Furious or Sarkozy in France under investigation for because he took 50 million Euros from Gaddafi to finance his presidential campaign in 2007. Then he set up a coalition to kill Gaddafi , you don't want to leave a witness now do you? He's being exposed.
ThrashHead: Yep, I thought the same thing when I heard that.
Exene: Here's the problem, in the 60's you had a real media, now we don't. Now you got these android Stepford wives, Stepford news ladies, and these weird guys...I mean, all they do is read the press release...ok, let's see if there's some breaking news and right away you Google it, "Oh my god I've got to see what's happening" and you see" Sarkozy takes money from Gaddafi and denies it and you go through each site and it's the same exact thing, the same exact thing, there's no investigative journalism, it's all press release, press release, press release. Then the President of Germany steps down, you know why he stepped down? They called it simply a political scandal...that doesn't tell me anything, and that's all they said. No one had anything more than political scandal, nothing! Because, they are scared too, they are scared to death, they don't want to be left behind when the shit hits the fan...they are making 15 million dollars a year sitting there in a short skirt just chatting away , so they are selling us out. The media is the culprit here, because the evil people are protected, not by the military, but by the media and the media is keeping us away from the truth and that is the real problem in our society. The evil people are going to be there, but without the media...one day you hear a knock at the door because the military police have come to take you away and you had no idea that was coming. The media should be ashaaaamed.
ThrashHead: Well, when it comes to media, if you look across the spectrum, with the Occupy movement, a lot of people would be quoting RT, which is Russian State Television, that's just another mouthpiece to another interest, we have FOX catering to the extreme right, MSNBC catering to the left, you have CNN which caters to the yuppies, and I've said this before, it's all the same thing...
Exene: RT and FOX is interesting in that, when the Obama executive order for martial law came out the only two networks that reported on it were RT and FOX. FOX because they hate Obama, and RT because they report more news. I'm afraid you have to go to Alex Jones for your news or again, the primary source...go to Homeland Security all the time, I don't mean all the time or you'll get in trouble, I mean periodically, you'll find some amazing things on there that people can't believe when you show it to them. You can find your own damned news.
ThrashHead: Exactly, it's amazing you say that by going to Fatherland Security, oh, I'm sorry, Homeland Security..I'm sorry I didn't mean to call it Fatherland Security I don't want to get on a list or anything, I'm not an enemy of the state. (Laugh) But it's funny say you don't want to go their website too much or you'll get in trouble because then all of a sudden there will be someone saying "Hey, this IP address has been logging on quite a bit, WHY are they so interested? " That in of itself, is really scary.
All media has it's on agenda, if FOX says something to rile people up against Obama or RT because they want to use it as shining a light on the ills of American society, everyone has their own agenda , but the sad thing is, if you question, like you had in catholic school, the punishment now is even far more severe. Do think there will come a time, if they even slightly consider you a danger you'll find yourself down in a cell in Gitmo?
Exene: Let me put it this way, that is planned...yes, that is their plan, if you don't believe that, then make a little chart and start at Ronald Reagan in 1980 then start charting different things which have happened and see how it goes. We are headed there yes, you can see it.
But the thing is, once he passed the NDAA, I went "You know what, I am going ahead and do whatever I want now, say whatever I want, smoke pot if I want", you know, do whatever I want....that's about as rowdy as I get. It's like: fuck it, because I could live the cleanest life in the world and not say a word and be like a little old lady who walks her dog and comes home to make dinner...they can still get me for nothing, they can take you for nothing. So, who cares...I'd rather get in trouble and live my life...that's the way I've always felt. They are going to get me sooner or later so why should I just be a little slave and not enjoy my freedom while it lasts? However, let me put it this way, this is this plan, and people need start believing it, you need to review 911 and see where we are headed, there is going to be martial law, there is going to be a financial collapse and these people know it's coming and they are terrified of us...terr..i..fied. That's why they are passing all those laws, because they are criminals and they know we are going to find out. The reason why we are going to find out, seems to be, like the punk movement, who knows why things happen at a certain time, there appears to be a consciousness awakening right now , people seem to waking up and it is contagious and they're scared.
There's a very strange story, to counterbalance all these evil financial interests, these Rockefellers, yes, Rothschilds, yes, Queen of England, yes, Bush family, yes, all that, all those fucking people, is the Asian side of the equation is the Dragon Family; have you heard of them?
ThrashHead: No, I have not
Exene: The Dragon Family is not happy, nor Russia nor other non-aligned nations with what used to be the United States, which is now the military empire of a corporation, a military arm of a corporation, we're just cannon fodder for the whole thing. What they're doing, behind the scenes, no one knows this hardly, there is this huge war going on which can be researched as well between those interests and the financial interests of the rest of the world.
The thing is, from World War 1, World War 2, Philippines, there has always been stories of missing gold. Now, there's "where did all the gold go that was stored underneath the World Trade Center? "....nobody knows, where did all the gold go from the Philippines go, nobody knows. Where's all the gold? Where's all the gold? There is more money in the world than there is gold, let's put it that way, and, everybody wants to cash in their worthless U.S. treasury bonds, most of which are forgeries probably, and they are worthless dollars for the gold. You're supposed to be able to give the bank your money and say "I want my gold" and that's coming due. And there is all sorts of fraudulent shit going on with that. The people in power have been given an ultimatum to surrender, but not everyone wants to see the world destroyed and humanity enslaved and wiped out, not everybody, only some people.
ThrashHead: So, do you think there's hope, or do you think it has to come all crashing down for real change to happen?
Exene: Well, those two things are racing to the same point and they are going to get there at the same time. In other words, in my opinion, the deconstruction of the financial world and society, the breakdown of society in the western world, martial law, etc is on the books, is happening . On the other hand, this other stuff is happening, this fight against it, and they are both accelerating, whoever wins....our fate hangs in the balance.
It's weirder than a science fiction movie, weirder than the catholic church, weirder than anything you've ever read or seen in a movie. It's the weirdest story ever, I would look into that "White Dragon Society"; there's this guy named Benjamin Fulford, give him a break, give him a chance, listen to what he has to say, he's not insane, but you will think so at first.
ThrashHead: That's an incredible point in view and I am in agreement with everything you're saying, because it's so obvious with what's going on and people will still say, "oh, conspiracy nut; I am going to stand over here to get my Ipad 6 or Iphone or whatever the hell Apple is putting out..."
Exene: Right, Right.
"...and you go on ranting and rambling how the end is nigh, I'll be happy with all my little gadgets and bluetooth headsets." They, won't realize it until they don't have their comforts anymore, and once they don't have their comfort and realize that they are in danger or their families are in danger, it'll be too late. Hopefully we won't get to a point where the world will be literally in flames before something is restructured and a more harmonious world emerges...but, I hate to say, I am slightly pessimistic...I have a feeling a lot of these laws are passed are an answer to occupy and ...
Exene: Look at it this way, modern western humans only react when their personal interests are threatened, "oh no not in my backyard" thinking, when it's not them, they pretend it's not happening and close the drapes. Now, once everyone is affected by this, which is happening exponentially, because you have soldiers, you have unemployed, etc...everyone is effected by what's going on...once they all realize that this effects them personally, "I lost my house so I'm really upset", they bond with other people; they become unified. And, that's a scary thing to them, that's why they try to keep groups separated...the unification of humanity would be the end.
ThrashHead: A threat to the status quo power structure
Exene: You know, when you take someone who is one year old and you start telling them all about Jesus, and all about evil, and all about god, and all about gay people, and all about abortions, and they are going to hell and pound it into them every day, they become little haters. That god is a jealous god? A vengeful god? And all those things in the Bible? It is a violent religion, the Abraham religions, but so were the religions of the Aztecs and the Incas, a lot of religions. Before there was religion there was spirituality, we need to get past "religion", they used that against us and it worked well too.
ThrashHead: Religion to control fellow man, it's certainly no longer about being a faith in that there is something bigger out there which is good or is bad or what have you, religion has simply become an institution of control.
Exene: It's control, because all you have to do is raise people up around it, you don't even have to control them, you just have to put them in a ring and watch them fight each other to death. It's easy and almost free.
ThrashHead: Breaking away from that, though I guess we can call it political, is a subject a bit closer to home. Health care in this country, after what we just discussed, it seems maybe health care may not be our biggest concern we have with our government and freedoms. I'm just going to ask anyway; healthcare in this country, everyone knows that you have actively supported Sweet Relief for many, many years, a non-profit, charitable organization to help uninsured musicians, why is it so many, even blue collar working class folks who can barely make ends meet, view social health care as evil? If they have the money they can certainly go to a physician with a private practice, but should the poor, be left to die?
Exene: If you don't have insurance you just can't go, you can't get insurance if you're self-employed, have pre-existing conditions or have taken certain medications like Prozac. Now, there was a period in time in the 90's where a lot of people went to the doctor and were given Prozac, but said "eh, not for me" and stopped taking it after about a month. But, because of that, I can't get health insurance, can't get it! Not even if you could pay for it...if you can get it, insurance can be $900 a month or a $1000 or $1500 depending how old you are, and they drop you....I've heard horror stories from almost everyone I know about getting dropped for things which were completely untrue and which didn't make sense on a medical level. The purpose of these companies is to get rid of as many people as possible before they have to actually pay . Take your money and then not pay you when you get sick, that's the way they make their money. It's a criminal cartel, just like the banks. It's all a racket, people have to realize, none of this is real, it's just a racket and it's not going to hold up.
As far as health care goes, I don't have any, and most people I know, don't . It's kinda like, if you're going to put fluoride in the water, spray us with chemtrails, feed us GMO's and fast food, then deny us healthcare, you know, what is that saying when you take it all together...what is that saying? It's not saying: "oh, we can't afford healthcare", it's saying: "we want you to die, get sick and die please, go away".
ThrashHead: It's strange you'd say something about chemtrails, the next one interview I have lined up is with Michael Murphy who filmed the documentary "What in the world are they spraying?"
Exene: I love that documentary.
ThrashHead: You know, about healthcare again, I often wonder, if we had access to organic foods, if we weren't being inundated with chemicals and pollution, to clean living, clean water, clean food, which we are not going to be given that the economy of the future is not going to be based on oil, it's going to be based on water, food, if we were able to live in a chemical free environment, no mercury, lead, free radicals, would we be able to live a hundred, a hundred and twenty years healthily? Are we naturally, as a species, able to live very long extended lives; the only reason our ancestor's average lifespan was so short was because often a broken bone meant death.
Healthcare, in the United States is sooo damned expensive, I was flabbergasted by how much it cost for the most basic of needs, things I knew how to take care of through experience as a parent, yet I still had to go see a doctor. You were recently talking about a medical rigmarole when you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis....
Exene: Right, what happened was, for sixteen or seventeen years I've been doing that MS thing , yes you have it, no you don't, yes you have it, no you don't, I could never get a straight answer. Until, finally, I had this one episode where clearly something was terribly wrong with me and this doctor finally said "You have MS, yes you do" and I was given this medicine which I had to inject into my stomach everyday and all this stuff and I did it. When I went back to California, I got a new doctor and he said "You don't have MS" and I was just "Stop it, fuckin' stop!" ....then he says I do after checking all my tests, and then he says I don't again, so I leave him and find a neurologists, one of the best in Southern California who agrees to see me for free because I did a favor for a friend of his sister. So, he says "No, you don't" and I am going to see him again in a week and he is going to tell me what the deal is...that's healthcare for you.
ThrashHead: Geez, you're still on this, because you were quoted lasted year in June, I think it was, "I don't even care anymore" , but it's still going on, do you think this nightmare will finally end and you may get that definitive answer you need?
Exene: Well, there is something definitely wrong, I just don't know what it is. I find out now, from coming out with this story and speaking with many different women, some way younger than me, who are going through the same things, where at first they thought it was Lupus, then they thought it was MS, but then some other rare neurological thing, but then they thought it was MS again and it's the same thing. All these people, especially woman, are getting all these rare neurological disorders...well, you know, toxic environment.
ThrashHead: Woman are vulnerable to all sorts of toxins, household things, like teflon and...
Exene: We have more fat, and we absorb...fat is an important part of neurological problems, vitamin D kinda stuff, and I don't know if it has anything to do with it, that's where a lot of toxins accumulate in; the fatty tissues and soft organs of women of course.
ThrashHead: Since this whole thing begun, have taken steps to live a different lifestyle, in general do you feel better than when this thing began?
Exene: No, I'll tell you what I've done, I've shifted my consciousness into another level out of necessity; because of circumstances beyond my control, I had to. I've gone through so much stuff in my life, I don't feel that I am above things, but things that I have no control over don't concern me...I have no control over anything. I mean, I could slip and fall, I don't have control over that, nobody does. So, what I am saying is that the only thing I can do is focus my consciousness to a different place and keep it there. It's above the negative.
ThrashHead: Just hang on for the roller coaster ride of life...
ThrashHead: From X, The Knitters, back to punk with Auntie Christ, Original Sinners and your solo projects you have around 23 albums to your name, but what some folks may not know is that you're also an accomplished author, having published your first series of books way back in 1982, Adulterers Anonymous, where you worked with artist Lydia Lunch, who you also collaborated with on the album Rude Hieroglyphics in, I think, '95, and you've have created art pieces which have been exhibited from coast to coast. As, I asked earlier, is it from this insatiable need to be creative, no matter what the medium?
Exene: Yes, I hate that because, you know what, you're going down the highway and you think of this really neat part for a song and it makes you want to write a whole album. The day before I'm thinking I've got to think of something else to do with my life, this treadmill of project to project, dollar to dollar, is killing me...I've gotta to get a job, get into that "Oh my god somebody needs to give me some work or something! Give me something, help me"...then your friends come over to jam, you have this amazing show and it's all great, and you do get this amazing gig that pays your bills then you're happy. It's such a battle, because the culture...it's incredible what they've done, the media with the culture, it's just what they've turned us into. I remember before commercialization, before the Beatles, the Beatles were the first commercialization...that's all the Beatles really were.
ThrashHead: I understand where you're coming from it being a battle, I feel it's a curse to be creative, I'll paint this great painting...I was invited to a show in San Antonio, and there were all sorts of people into my work, but this kid was just staring at one of my paintings, totally absorbed in it, he was selling tacos or something at the show, gallery owners would come up and hand me their cards, and it was like "get out of my face you snob!" but this kid was just so into it I gave it to him. I can't pay the bills doing it, but I'll be damned if I am going to go to some gallery and sip my wine with my pinky standing out, spouting Kafka and pretend to be some intellectual powerhouse, I'm just an average guy who can express himself on canvas and draw a pretty picture...it's all I really know how to do, and I can't stop doing it.
What do say to those kids out there who are just beginning the adventure, those kids who may feel like they are on the outside looking in and know only how to draw a picture, write prose, or strum a guitar?
Exene: Well, find out who you are and that will dictate what you are supposed to do. If you don't find out who you are, you are going to be wandering around trying to find yourself in other people. It's a big cliché, but it's like if you seek outside yourself, whether it's through Jesus or drugs, it's because you're not looking in. If you look in and find out who you are, you'll find what you are supposed to do.
I talk to young people about this all the time, but it's like they don't want to talk. "You're almost outta school huh? ", "yeah", "What do you like?", "Uh, dunno." You're like "Oh pleeease, come on! There must be something you like." and when you finally get it out of them, it's something really incredible like "Well, I really want to design something, or something that's creative and smart." and you're like "Well, why dontchya then?" "well, I dunno"...it's like God damned it! If someone came on CNN with a suit on and said to you that you could do anything, people would believe it, but if someone like me tells them they could do anything, you won't...you know? It's like people just can't believe in themselves, that's the problem, they are not supposed to, they've been told they are stupid, they don't know anything but government knows, school knows, everybody knows...they don't know.
ThrashHead: Just be yourself, find out what you want to do and pursue it.
On your latest album, The Excitement of Maybe , I listened to it last night, your voice is as harmonious as I've ever heard it, and backed by musical influences which harkens back to America's roots, there's folk and country, even a horn section which leads the listener through a beautiful roller coaster of emotions with tracks like "Already in Love", "I wish it would stop raining", "Alone in Arizona", "Someday I'll forget" I really liked this album, there was something about it where you feel the music so deeply. What does this album mean to you, and is it your greatest masterpiece to date?
Exene: It's love songs...they are all love songs, that's why there is so much emotion...uh, motherfuckers, this love thing. Love in general is a motherfucker. But that's wonderful, I appreciate it, thank you.
ThrashHead: It's an outstanding album! Last question, returning to the documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization" Penelope Spheeris asks you this question: "Do you think you are a happy person?", how would you answer that question today?
Exene: Happy is a transient, emotional, clap your hands when someone gives you a present type of thing. I hate to be a linguistic creep about it, but if you took the term and meant it in the way she probably meant it, are you happy with yourself, are you content, the answer with that would have been a big "No", but now the answer is "Yes".
I have made my peace with most of my demons, which is what I was meant to do like everyone else, you know slay your demons before you die. I've addressed most of them and have done pretty well .
I am trying to have a peaceful life.
Listen to just a few songs from Exene's amazing career.