The Exile Follies sprang from a mutual desire among John Doe, Kristin Hersh and Grant-Lee Phillips to approach a tour in a different kind of way. It was 2002. They had each come from bands where they each held the role of songwriters, a role they had gone at alone until this point in their careers – a sort of self-imposed exile. Throwing Muses hadn’t officially split but Kristin was well into her fifth solo album and forming a new band. John had released his fourth solo album and there was little hint that X would return, or with such a vibrant second act. Grant was onto writing his third solo album. The three, although very different from one another, found some interesting musical crossroads between them that continues almost two decades later.
John Doe is an singer-songwriter, actor, poet, guitarist and bass player. He co-founded the LA Punk band X, of which he is still an active member. His musical performances and compositions span the Rock, Punk, Country and Folk music genres. As an actor, he has both television appearances and movies to his credit. Some of his movie roles include the 1989 biographical film Great Balls of Fire!, Boogie Nights and Wyatt Earp and The Outsiders. On television, Doe has appeared on Law & Order, One Tree Hill, The Wizards of Waverly Place and as Jeff Parker on Roswell.
Along with co-writer Exene Cervenka, Doe composed most of the songs recorded by X. Wild Gift, an album from the band’s heyday, was named Record of the Year by Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.
In the 1992 movie The Bodyguard (starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston), it is Doe’s version of “I Will Always Love You” that plays on the jukebox when Costner’s and Houston’s characters are dancing.
Doe took part in Todd Haynes’s 2007 movie I’m Not There, recording two Bob Dylan covers, “Pressing On” and “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.” Both recordings were included on the film’s soundtrack and the former was prominently featured in the film, with Christian Bale (as Pastor John Rollins) lip-synching Doe’s vocals.
With co-author Tom DeSavia, Doe wrote and compiled stories for a book about the LA Punk Rock scene from 1977 to 1983 entitled Under the Big Black Sun. There were many contributions from other musicians as Doe wanted it to be a collective recollection, not just one person’s perspective of the time. A sequel of sorts was released in 2019 entitled More Fun In The New World: The Unmaking and Legacy of L.A. Punk. Doe and DeSavia again invited contributors to narrate the space of time from 1982 to 1987.
Singer-Songwriter, musician and author Kristin Hersh is known for her solo work and with her Rock bands Throwing Muses and 50FootWave. She has released eleven solo albums. Her guitar work and composition style ranges from jaggedly dissonant to traditional Folk. Her lyrics have a stream-of-consciousness style, reflecting her personal experiences.
In 1981, she formed the group Throwing Muses with her friend Tanya Donelly when then were both freshmen in high school. Other friends from the school were part of the group as well including David Narcizo who became a long-term member. Hersh initially wrote and sang most of Throwing Muses’ songs, often in changing tempos. Donelly also contributed songs and lead vocals. The Throwing Muses were signed to 4AD, the first American group to be signed on the British label and they toured throughout the 80s and early 90s.
In 1994, Hersh began a solo career as an acoustic performer, beginning with Hips and Makers, an album sparsely arranged around her vocals, guitar and a cellist, in contrast to the volatile, electric sound of her band work. Michael Stipe of R.E.M. made an appearance on this first solo album. In 2003, she released The Grotto, an acoustic solo album of song sketches with personal lyrics set in Providence, Rhode Island, with Andrew Bird on violin and Howe Gelb on piano. In 2016, she released the double album Wyatt at the Coyote Place and an accompanying book.
Her 2010 memoir Rat Girl (published in the UK as Paradoxical Undressing) is based on a diary she wrote when she was 18, touring with Throwing Muses, diagnosed with bipolar disorder and pregnant with her first child. Rob Sheffield in The New York Times called it an “uncommonly touching Punk memoir,” and named it #8 in Rolling Stone‘s “25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time.”
After spending his formative years in Stockton, California, Grant-Lee Phillips headed to Los Angeles to study film. Finding himself beneath the spell cast by local bands like the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate, Phillips soon partnered with Stockton acquaintance Jeff Clark to form Shiva Burlesque. The band dissolved after two critically acclaimed records, and Phillips began writing and demoing under the Grant Lee Buffalo alias.
Phillips’ golden, honey-soaked voice had largely gone to waste in Shiva Burlesque, but the new band enabled him to step out as a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Grant Lee Buffalo went on to release four very different LPs, developed a cult following and had several successful tours as well as across-the-board critical acclaim being voted Rolling Stone’s Male Vocalist of the Year.
Phillips made many appearances on the popular comedy-drama Gilmore Girls, as a roaming town troubadour as well as on the follow up mini-series, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
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