Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners.
If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to
I am 16 years old and have been trying to start a band for three years. I'm not saying I'm gonna kill myself if I can't find a band, but it is something I have shed blood, sweat and tears over. I just wanna play real rock music, and no one else does. What would you do if you were in my shoes? I will never give up on this dream, but no one else is serious. I have put fliers up all over town--at music stores, music-supplies stores, etc. I am willing to work my fingers to the bone for this. Any advice from a legend such as yourself will be golden. Thanks.
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DEAR DIETER: Sometimes, things fall miraculously into place--we meet the right person at the right moment, get pointed in a direction through accident or coincidence, you never know. Being in a band isn't a step-by-step process such as studying, learning a trade, then getting a job in a chosen field. There are a million variables. Unless it's you and an acoustic guitar, there will be obstacles, only one of which is finding the other musicians in the first place, and they all have their own dreams of what they want to do and be. It sounds as though you have pursued this through the obvious channels, with no luck so far. That doesn't mean it won't happen. Maybe other places are more suited to what you want to do?
Obviously, you are younger and perhaps cannot pick up and move, but that's what a lot of musicians do. Every city has its own scene: Austin, Portland, New York, Phoenix--all have a completely different reality musically than SoCal. In 2013, an artist has to be incredibly daring and brave. And bravery is rare these days; we could use more of it. I hope you will be a voice for your generation and do what you feel you were meant to do in this life. And that advice goes for a reader named Lisa, whose question I recently answered. I have had much conflict over the reply I gave you a few weeks ago. What I should have said to you, Lisa, was: Bravery is rare these days. You have it. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. Love, Exene