X's Exene Cervenka's Advice to Female Musicians: "Don't Get Married"

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The songs on Los Angeles were written during a very different time. How have your opinions of the city and the punk rock scene changed since then?

The punk scene was only a couple years old, and then became a bunch of other stuff, but what's happening now, I think, is people have used music as a communication and a device to bring people together. That's the new music movement. I don't care if it's punk rock, or grunge rock, or folk rock, or whatever it is. If you're getting people together and having a celebration and a meaningful experience that transcends just playing a song, that's a new movement. That's the important movement, that's what punk was.

What about L.A. itself? I've read in some interviews that you have mixed feelings about it, but now you're back in Southern California.

Yeah, but I'm not in L.A. Even though it's a big city with millions of people and it's real crowded and there's a lot of exciting things going on, and I go there frequently -- I was there last night -- it's a little too crowded and confusing for me right now. It's not the city it used to be. I don't want to live in a city of 9 million people.

Between struggles with Warner Brothers actually paying you, health problems, and being married and divorced to John Doe, you guys have had your share of troubles. What motivates you to keep going after all these years?

It's the same thing that would motivate anyone else. There's really nothing you can do about trouble. The IRS might come after you, or your boyfriend might come after you, or you might lose your job -- it doesn't really matter.

The important things are your family, your friends, and your work. You just keep going because that's what makes you happy. That's what you live for. All that other stuff, you just have to laugh it off and go, "Oh, my God, guess what happen to me today?"' and think, "Oh, that's funny." I don't know anybody that's not in the same boat I'm in on so many levels.

I'm not down. I'm not cynical. I'm very honest, very upbeat, very excited about the time I'm living in. [I'm] ready to go, ready to do whatever I need to do to move this whole humanity forward, to help move me forward, to help move my friends forward, and to do it with laughter and love, because I think that's the only solution. I never try to feel negative.

What advice would you give to an aspiring female musician?

Don't get married.

Specifically to someone in the band, or don't get married period?

Don't get married, because there's a dynamic -- and I don't care how hip you are; I don't care if you're walking around barefoot and you love your girlfriend, and she's the coolest singer and songwriter in the world -- [that] once she starts working full-time devoting herself to her work, problems start.

I've never seen it not be that way. I'm not saying anything about men; I'm just saying our society has a dynamic where women that are working really hard on their own thing get guilt-tripped and side-tracked and thwarted, and they end up not being who they should be. If you want to be a musician, singer-songwriter, artist, painter, whatever it is, you'd better devote yourself to that.

That's my number one piece of advice. You can call me sexist, you can call me anything you want, but my advice is do not get married.

I am an artist. I should be able to do anything I want any time I want without anyone telling me, "No, that's not a good idea because it doesn't work for me." No one should ever be able to tell you as a woman, as an artist, "No, you can't go on that tour because I'm scared you might meet a guy."

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Totally agree with her on the married thing. Very well put.


Sounds more like, don't get married to a jealous asshole. Because being married to someone really supportive and invested in your artistic side can be amazing.

Grave Hunter
Grave Hunter

Very insightful interview with Exene.  Read the entire interview.


Exene is the real deal...a treasure of the world.

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