“No one is ever going to pay you, and if you do get paid for stuff, that’s good,” Exene Cervenka told me the other day over the phone. “I don’t even care, as long as they listen to my music. In fact, it’s kind of like that Abby Hoffman book, Steal This Book – it’s like, the greatest title for a book ever.”
However, Cervenka’s latest release, Somewhere Gone, is certainly worth plunking down some cold, hard, cash for, and it’s been a long time coming.
It’s been nearly two decades since X frontwoman Exene Cervenka recorded a solo record (the last would be 1992’s Old Wives Tales), but hey – the woman has been busy! In addition to putting together several exhibitions of her artwork, releasing multiple books, touring and recording with X (as well as The Knitters and The Original Sinners), it’s hardly surprising she just got around to releasing Somewhere Gone earlier this month. Her touring in support of the album will bring her to Velvet Jones on Nov. 15.
This latest work is full of slower, contemplative love songs, she told me over the phone, explaining her need to finally release another solo album. It’s a difference of genre: Though all of Cervenka’s bands have had a bit of an alt-country vibe about them, this record is beautiful, straight-up folk.
“I’m always writing love songs,” she said, when asked what inspired Somewhere Gone. “And it’s more satisfying. And Glen Campbell, probably… a little bit of Glen Campbell thrown in.”
When asked about why she chose to release this project as a solo record, as opposed to something with The Knitters or the Original Sinners, as she has been doing recently, she says her songs have, as of late, moved away from the rock ‘n’ roll vein.
‘The songs that I write don’t really lend themselves to that format. And they haven’t, and I realized that … It’s more satisfying, because … you can take your time to evolving the song along. It’s not rock ‘n’ roll. I have The Knitters or the Original Sinners if I want to do something like that.”
And though her music may be slower and more contemplative these days, Cervenka herself has hardly slowed down, despite announcing over the summer – after she and her X bandmates played Coachella – she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
These days, she’s feeling good, and will be playing shows supporting Somewhere Gone as well as a series of Christmas shows in L.A. and San Francisco with X (which recently recorded two Chuck Berry-influenced Christmas tracks).
“It’s something Billy’s always wanted to do, and we finally did it,” she said, referring to longtime X bassist Billy Zoom.
When discussing the current hot-button topic of Internet music piracy, Cervenka’s punk rock roots really showed.
Cervenka also reported that she has been working on a ton of new songs for her next solo album, some of which she will be playing at Velvet Jones. She says her recent move back to Los Angeles, the city that has inspired so much of her lyrics over the decades (after spending a couple of years out in Missouri) has figured heavily into her next collection of tracks.
“I moved back to California over the summer – a whole new world, a whole new ins, different people to play with. It’s a big change, but a change for the better, I think.”
We’re certainly glad to have her back.
You can buy tickets for the show at www.ticketweb.com for just $10; be advised that this is a 21+ show.