What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
The first thing that comes to mind is that when I was 11 or 12 years old, I got hold of a collection of Edgar Allan Poe's work. It was a big, thick, hardback edition that looked like a dictionary. I guess it was like kids playing Dungeons and Dragons today, but I got totally immersed in it. I was totally taken with Edgar Allan Poe. I thought he was a rock star. His writing opened up my world, because it was beautiful, frightening, and dark at the same time—I didn't know that sort of thing existed before I read Poe. And I learned that when a writer is economical with language, the way Poe is, it an be incredibly effective. It's the same way with Charles Bukowski or John Steinbeck or Flannery O'Connor. It was a good lesson for me to learn.
John Doe grew up in Baltimore and went on to form X, the iconic punk band. He plays Iota in Arlington, Virginia on May 8th, with The Sadies. Their joint CD, Country Club, is out on Yep Roc Records. X plays Rams Head Live on June 6th.