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- Posted on Mar 10th 2010 12:34PM by Jill Jackson
How did you get the name John Doe?
I have an unpronounceable Czech name, Duchac, that was mispronounced all my school days, so I said I would make it easy. I was inspired by John Waters (who is a friend of mine) and Andy Warhol. And in the days of punk rock, it was good to have a nom de plume.
How did you get started in music? Were you in other bands before X?
My mother taught me to sing. That's how I got started. My first performance was in the second grade talent show. I did a duet with a girl and the song was from 'Guys and Dolls' -- 'A Bushel and a Peck.' Before X, I was in a bunch of cover bands in Baltimore.
How would you describe your sound?
I would lump myself in with the alt-country grouping: alt-country with better lyrics.
Are there any bands or artists that you would compare yourself to?
Sure. All the people that are in alt-country that have learned from me -- and I've learned from them. Just name it: Wilco, Neko Case, whoever. That's not for me, really, to say. I don't compare myself to other people. That's for writers to do, not artists to do.
What are some of your musical influences. People who have inspired you?
I've shaped my own sound for 30 years. I listen to anybody who's good, from James Brown to Tammy Wynette. It's sort of like asking someone who's been around for years and years, "So, tell me about your life." I listen to anybody worth a damn for the last 40 years. And that means new people and old artists. Once you stop listening to the new stuff, then you stop growing.
Are there any new artists that you really enjoy?
Sure: I like the Silversun Pickups' last album pretty well. I like the Reigning Sound's new record. Jill Sobule and I do a lot of work together; she's definitely an influence.
Do you have any songs that are personal favorites? One's that you really enjoy performing?
That changes from night to night. I'm really lucky in that I enjoy playing and singing, pretty much all the time. There are plenty of singers who don't enjoy performing live. I'm not one of them, so I'm very lucky.
Sometimes a song that you're especially proud of, you don't play or sing as well. What I like most, and the songs that I'm proudest of, are the ones that are the most economical -- that are the most straightforward.
What can SXSW audiences expect?
I just stand up there and sing songs. I don't do anything special. I allow the songs to speak for themselves. I play songs from the X catalog; I play songs of my own, songs from the Knitters. All that stuff.
Are you working on another album?
The last record we put out was last year. It was called 'Country Club' with the Sadies -- a straight-up country-western record. I'm writing songs right now. but I'm not recording yet.
Have you played SXSW before?
About 15 times. Festivals are great. SXSW can be confusing and if you don't just let the flow take you whichever way it's going to, then you'll drive yourself insane.
What are some of the strangest things you've encountered on the road?
I hate to let you down, but I don't really take stock of those things.
Jill Jackson is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.