She never used to think of it as a yuletide custom. But this season, Exene Cervenka, frontwoman for legendary Los Angeles punk band X, decided to make it official. “Now it’s become a tradition that X plays the Bay Area for Christmas and New Year’s, and that’s just the way it is,” she says. “It seems almost like a hometown thing for us, you know?” Blasting into The City for two ‘X-Mas’ shows, the group is wrapping a banner year in which Cervenka issued a new solo CD, X co-vocalist John Doe released two, and X opened for Pearl Jam on a South American tour, with European dates to follow in the summer.
How were the gigs with Pearl Jam? We went to São Paolo, Rio, Santiago, Buenos Aires, San Jose in Costa Rica and Mexico City. And it was all fantastic, like a dream. South America has a life force and an energy that I’ve never seen anywhere else — it was magical, from another source, like from the ground or something.
What did you learn from Eddie Vedder and company? Or they from you? We’d go out and play to an audience of 35,000, 40,000 people who had no idea who we were, as the opening act for Pearl Jam, their favorite band in the world. People told me they’d been waiting their whole lives to see Pearl Jam, and it was going to be their happiest night, ever. Yet when we came out, by the time we were done, they were an X audience. We played the very best show we could in our lives, all of us, and that’s what Pearl Jam did, too, until it was kind of a free-for-all of us just going for it. Because that’s what those people deserved, and that’s what. we deserved from ourselves.
Did your trip inspire any new art for you? Oh yeah. I started a comic book while I was down there, called “The End-Time Adventures of Lucifer and His Illuminati Gang.” The first four issues are done, and I’m working on the next four. That’s one thing I learned from South America — it’s time to wake people up. They have no rights, but they have freedom there, and here we have rights, but no freedom.
And you’re actually an A&R rep now? Yes. I got invited into a new independent label called Moonlight Graham, and I’ve already signed my first artist — Skating Polly, two young girls who are 11 and 16. And in two weeks, I’m going to Oklahoma City to record them.
IF YOU GO
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Tickets: $33 to $50