Exene Cervenka is the lead singer of the legendary L.A. punk band X, who
first came along in 1978 and as far as I know is the
last straight up punk band left standing from their era and locale; the Go
Go's are more of a New Wave pop group, and DEVO of
course is a transplant from Ohio.
I believe her when she says that they have moved more than a million units
of their first album "Los Angeles." As far as I know they have done other
ones, but not very many; that album was the main organ of their operation
and it sold very well. At the time it was current, you could never get
enough copies of it to retail outlets, and as far as I know it has never
gone out of print. Their music has been licensed to movies and such,
particularly the song "Los Angeles," which evokes a certain mood that no
other song about LA does; a high energy, wiseacre kind of sass that really
fits scenes of a couple of guys in sunglasses driving a hot car along
boulevards well endowed with scrawny, undernourished palm trees.
I suspect in the SoundScan era it would be more difficult to sidestep
allocations of product turns towards gold certification; it sounds like in
X' case the units moved by the original Slash Records label before the
company was bought out, circa 1982, by Warner Bros. were not counted or
reported. They probably should, as Perry Mason, would say, "Hire a good
lawyer." But it's very interesting what she says of her experiences and I
feel relevant to the ongoing discussion here about DRM, artists' royalties
and all of that kind of stuff.
Uncle Dave Lewis
*At your shows, do you tend to see a lot of the same people coming time
after time, or do you have a lot of younger people getting into your music
as well? *
It's never changed. There's always young people, middle-aged people, all
kinds of people. There's as many young people now as there ever has been.
Thank you to the Internet for making it possible for bands like us to still
But, I should bring up right now that the Congress of the United States is
going to pass the Protect IP Act, which will take down anything that any
major corporation construes to be a copyright violation. So, goodbye *Betty
Boop* cartoons, goodbye 78s, goodbye movies, goodbye sharing a file with a
CNN news clip on it, goodbye showing something about the World Trade
Centers falling down, goodbye exposing any truth. It's all going to go.
So, for instance, let's say someone puts an X song up there. Someone else,
a third party, not me, can say, "Oh, that's a copyright violation. Take
that down." It doesn't have to be the copyright holder who takes it down;
it can be anyone. So, it's over. The only reason it hasn't passed is
because one congressperson is holding it up.
*How do you feel about fans downloading your music?*
I couldn't care less. They can do anything they want with my stuff. If they
want to listen to my music, or look at my art, or download a poster or a
book, I say go for it.
I'm not going to get paid anyway. Do you think Warner Brothers is ever
going to pay me a penny for any records I ever made, or Slash Records? I
don't get paid for those. They're protecting the rights they own on my work
so that they can make money, not that I can get paid. They don't pay me,
the laws are not in my favor.
They have so many restrictions on payment. Let's say you sell 50,000
records and in the stores, there's another 10,000 floating around. They
won't pay you on the 50,000 because they say, "What if those 10,000 get
returned? Then we'll have a loss, so we can't pay you." It's ridiculous.
Slash Records is now part of Warner Brothers, so all the records [Slash]
sold don't count now. We have not gotten a gold record for *Los Angeles*,
which means we have not sold 500,000 copies. We sold well over a million
copies of that record, but they just say that we haven't, and there's
nothing you can do.
It's really difficult to get paid. So, yeah, I say, "Steal it all. Steal it
all." I make my monthly bills. I don't care. I don't need more than what I
need. I'm not looking to be a millionaire. It would be nice if those
situations weren't corrupt.