While John Doe admits he's not the first musician to venture down the country-influenced acoustic road, as heard on his...

While John Doe admits he's not the first musician to venture down the country-influenced acoustic road, as heard on his iMusic debut, "Dim Stars, Bright Sky," the X principal does say it's familiar ground. "I think it was always there," Doe tells Billboard.com from his home 80 miles north of Los Angeles. "I hinted at it except there was too much production on [1990's] 'Meet John Doe' record and that's what most people know me by.

He continues, "I was trying to take a giant step backwards and not be so progressive because the last two records [1995's "Kissingsohard" and 2000's "Freedom Is.."] were, for my standards, fairly progressive using loops and samples and messing around and experimenting. I was just trying to make this one very simple, straightforward, and sort of give people what they expect I would do."

"Dim Stars, Bright Sky" finds Doe in good company, with guest appearances by Juliana Hatfield, Jane Wiedlin, Aimee Mann, Jakob Dylan, and Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller. "When [producer] Joe Henry and I were doing the first session of demos, he said, 'Why don't we have Aimee [Mann] sing on this song and Jakob [Dylan] sing on this song.' I said I wasn't going to call them, it was only a demo. And he said, 'I will, watch me.' And then as [producer] Dave Way and I were finishing the album, we realized we started this idea and this would be very cool. It would be very hip-hop, with a bunch of guest stars."

Doe has been quite busy of late working on various television and movie projects, as well as scheduling a John Doe Trio tour (featuring bassist Dave Carpenter and keyboardist Nick Luca) that begins in a few weeks and reuniting his X mates for a few upcoming Los Angeles shows. While X is tentatively planning a tour for late spring, Doe says he sees little reason for the seminal punk act to record new material.

"We have too much [material as it is]," he says. "It's not like a pressing need, it's more that I just don't really write punk rock songs and I think that's what X should be. We've redefined ourselves a couple of times and the record we did in 1993 ["Hey Zeus!"], it was a pretty friendly time for alternative and rock music and stuff like that and it didn't really get much of a response. So, hell, you don't have to tell me twice."

Here are Doe's upcoming tour dates:

Feb. 14-15: Los Angeles (Knitting Factory, w/ X)
Feb. 19: San Francisco (Cafe Du Nord)
Feb. 24: Omaha, Neb. (Music Box)
Feb. 26: Fargo, N.D. (Ralph's)
Feb. 27: Minneapolis (400 Bar)
Feb. 28: Milwaukee (Shank Hall)
March 1: Madison, Wis. (Luther's Blues)
March 2: Chicago (Old Town School)
March 4: Cleveland (Beachland Ballroom & Tavern)
March 5: Pittsburgh (Club Cafe)
March 6: New York (Knitting Factory)
March 7: Philadelphia (Tin Angel)
March 8: Cambridge, Mass. (T.T. The Bear's)
March 9: Fall River, Mass. (Narrows Center For The Arts)
March 10: Arlington, Va. (IOTA Club & Cafe)

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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