“Early L.A. punk was all about love, freedom of expression, individuality, loving each other, and helping each other survive outside of the corporate structure,” she said. “Now it’s 2011 and everyone in the country better learn how to do that, or they’re going to be screwed.”
Cervenka says the best of the musical and social scene from 1975 to 1982, unlike ’50s or ’60s music, was not allowed to be heard on the radio or seen on TV, and what you did see had nothing to do with punk.
“It all became a cartoon,” she said. “Fashion, fascism, redundancy, all your songs had to be played fast and had to be played by men, with the girls on the sidelines and the guys at the mosh pit. And that thing was exactly what real punk was against. That’s the punk I’m talking about, and that’s coming back out of necessity. And it doesn’t matter if you play bluegrass, or folk, or punk, or hippie music, or whatever music. If you got that same ideal, it is punk.”
X was — and still is — the embodiment of that punk spirit Cervenka talks about. Without a clear front person, it was the union of four talented people from different musical backgrounds who mixed punk sounds with anything from rockabilly to blues to folk. It was part of a scene that, unlike most of its English counterpart, was more than just attitude and DIY ethics — it was musically challenging, and X was among the most challenging of all. Los Angeles (1980) and Wild Gift (1981), both produced by the Doors’ Ray Manzarek, were chosen by Rolling Stone as two of the 500 greatest albums of all time, while Pitchfork chose Los Angeles as one of the top 100 albums of the ’80s (Wild Gift, by the way, was “Record of the Year” in everybody’s list).
“In 1978, in the USA you couldn’t find two punk bands who sounded alike,” she said. “[Austin’s] Big Boys didn’t sound like the Replacements, X didn’t sound like the Plugz, or the Weirdos, or the Cramps, or Blondie. All those bands were completely original. Everybody was scary and smart. That’s the way it should be, and that’s the way it’s going to be again.”
She's correct ONLY about the nature of music: from 1975 to 1982, most of the best music never made it onto the radio. Starting in 1982, indie exploded, and small labels got their music out (on CD, often) using the new cheaper equipment. In the mid-1990s, specifically about 1994, computers got powerful enough to make this process really easy, and the need for an underground collapsed. We had a pluriverse instead.