From an interview a few years ago:
“It was very inspiring,” Exene says of those days. “I remember that feeling of creating something completely out-there and new, and that’s fucking amazing as an artist. That’s what you’re supposed to do. We didn’t have any radio or music industry interest, so here’s a bunch of kids just screwing around with art and music, doing whatever comes into their mind, being totally left alone. By the time popularity happened, we’d been left alone for so long that we created this thing totally without influence. People asked, ‘How do you know to do that?’ Well, because I put those two things together and it sounded good to me.”
Exene created her iconic thrift-store vamp look the same way, working with whatever she found in dollar bins that caught her fancy. She would accent a dress from the ‘20s or ‘40s with diaper pins and flashy rhinestones, and pair the look with ankle socks and frumpy shoes. Her dark, bleach-streaked hair was the West Coast flipside of Debbie Harry’s black-tipped, platinum-blond ‘do. Ironically, for a girl whose fashion philosophy boiled down to “cover up as much as you can, because if you don’t, men will look at you,” Exene was also something of a punk pinup. “Yeah, but what was I wearing?” She smiles and laughs. “Good for me. That’s what I say to that.”
For women who found nothing to identify with in the soft-rockin’ ‘70s, punk opened up a new world. “It was the first time women were really in a position like that, to be onstage and be themselves,” says Exene. “You had girl groups and the Runaways and the girls from Fleetwood Mac, but you didn’t really have scary, upfront women like that, so I think people were real fascinated by that.”
I loved this band passionately then, and I still do. I went to the show they did last night at The Cabooze (a bar with a stage, best place to see them). 30 years later, they have lost none of their speed, none of their intensity, and their maturity makes them even better performers and musicians. The crowd was madly in love with their performance, and so was I. I managed to get a good place to stand and see them without getting crushed in the mosh pit, although there were lots of tall people in front of me. I could see Billy Zoom doing that ridiculous posing smiling thing he does while he's playing the hottest guitar around. John Doe plays the bass like few others and he and Exene still are able to give me goosebumps with what they can do when they put their voices together. The drummer, JD Bonebrake, who often gets ignored was as strong and rock solid as ever on their super fast, super tight songs. The set list had been decided by fan vote online before the show, and included a ton of favorites as well as some songs I didn't know. This was their last show on the tour, and they were generous with their encores.
Here they are in 1984 on the David Letterman show (before he got so damn lazy). Neither song rocks as hard as their earlier stuff, but you get the idea.
Check out the little interview Letterman does with the band between their 2 performances here.