INTERVIEW: STEVE LUCAS, X – July 2017

INTERVIEW: STEVE LUCAS, X – July 2017
By Shane Pinnegar

There have been few Australian bands to embrace primal chaos as enthusiastically as X, formed by singer (and later guitarist) Steve Lucas and the late ex-Rose Tattoo bassist Ian Rilen in 1977. With a new Best Of compilation under his arm, Lucas has assembled a new line-up of X, and returns to Western Australia for the first time since the band imploded on-stage in Fremantle supporting The Ramones in the late ‘80s.

X return to Freo to play Mojos on Thursday, 3rd August with Datura4 and Axe Girl, and head to The Rosemount on Friday, 4th August, with The Floors and Axe Girl in support.

Best Of X And Rarities 1977-1983 Vol 1 is out now: A raw, throbbing visceral thing of ragged beauty, it collects single tracks, demos, live tapes and more from the first two line-ups of the band, up until late 1979. During that time original guitarist Ian Krahe ‘died in his sleep’ after one heroin fix too many. Rilen thrust Krahe’s “beat up old Tele” in Lucas’s hands and said, “You’re playing guitar now… start practicing.”

 

READ THE STORY – AND A BONUS STORY ABOUT THEIR DISASTROUS SUPPORT SLOT FOR THE RAMONES IN FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA, IN 1989 AT AROUND THE SOUND

 

 

HERE’S SOME BONUS MATERIAL FROM MY INTERVIEW:

 

Later, original drummer Steve Cafiero died in the mid 1980’s when a routine operation went awry, and Rilen succumbed to cancer in 2006, a year before fellow former early Rose Tattoo member Lobby Lloyde, who produced X’s debut album X-Aspirations and its two follow-ups, At Home With You and X And More.

Through all the chaos there must have been great highs and terrible lows. Did Lucas ever consider giving it up and just walking away from music?

“Fuck, yeah!” he replies without hesitation, the sadness evident in his voice. “I gave up a few times, but the siren call of the music always brought me back. And this is kind of an obligation, I guess, to all the people who have come and gone through the ranks. I’m a bit of a sucker like that. So apart from my own longings and yearnings, I feel a responsibility to keep it alive for everyone else that was a part of it all.”

Is there a bit of therapy, perhaps, in there as well?

“Therapy… would you call it therapy?” he muses. “It’s a cathartic experience.”

Listening to these early recordings is also a cathartic experience, not just for those who were there, but because the sheer raw vitality of the performances are so wild, so irrepressibly raucous that it’s obvious to see why the punk crowd latched onto the band, even though they’re more pub rock than punk sounding. It engages the listener on an emotional level instantly.

“It is hugely emotional,” agrees Lucas. “It never ceases to fuck with my head and or my heart, for that matter. It’s a big thing.”

The liner notes for the album show that Lucas has remarkable recollection of those wild early days, despite all the substance abuse and mayhemic lifestyles they were living.

“Oh you get flashes, like a bad trip, you get these flashbacks,” he laughs mirthlessly. “God, everywhere you go you’ve got someone with the next story to help keep it going. There is that. The funny thing is, the older you get, you can’t remember what you had for breakfast but you can remember who you were talking to in a bar 30 years ago. You remember the conversation almost word for word! It’s perverse but it’s things the way it is.”

Rilen and Green would become life partners off stage as well as bandmates soon enough, but initially the bass player allegedly admitted to Lucas that he couldn’t tell if Green was a good drummer, or if he just wanted to fuck her.

“Yeah that’s basically it, yeah,” Lucas confirms. “Ian and any female, in any room, at any given time, sooner or later, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like, he’d want to fuck her. That man, he had one mission in mind. The only person who was more randy than bloody Ian was the original drummer, Steve Cafiero. He quit because, I remember one day he said, ‘that’s it. I’ve had enough boys. I’m not doing this anymore.’ And we’re like, ‘why?’ He said, ‘at the gig last night, that front row of chicks, there wasn’t one I’d want to fuck.’ That’s it – that’s time to hang it up!

“Yeah, me I just cared more about the music. I’m strange like that. But otherwise, just to say, it’s quality over quantity, for me!”

 

INTERVIEW: STEVE LUCAS, X - July 2017

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