As the legendary Los Angeles punk band X begins its 40th-anniversary celebration with four of its annual Christmas concerts in San Francisco this week (and you really owe it to yourself to catch one of these electric performances), frontwoman Exene Cervenka admits to feeling a tad nostalgic. “I miss the farms, the factories, the old America that we used to travel around in, before MTV and cellphones and computers,” she says, sighing. She catches herself before continuing on with her conspiracy theories on globalist intervention, because, it is, after all, holiday time.
What’s the coolest Christmas gift you ever received?
It’s a tie. In fifth grade, it was a blue Schwinn, a girl’s bike. Then two years later, it was The Doors’ first record with the long version of “Light My Fire” on it, which was what defined my turning point in life. I was a little 12-year-old kid in Illinois, and until that point I didn’t know if I was going to be a nun, a schoolteacher, or a mom. Hearing “Light My Fire,” it was almost like I was on acid — my mind was blown.
What’s the worst gift you got?
You know, people give me things all the time. They make things and go, “Here — I really like you and I like the band.” So I don’t think there was ever a bad gift, because I think it’s really generous of people to even try and give a gift. And they sometimes get it wrong, of course. But when somebody genuinely wraps up a gift and gives it to you, that’s the greatest thing in the world.
Do you have any Christmas rituals?
I’m usually working during the holidays, so I don’t really go in for that – not even a Christmas tree. When I’ve been on the road in December, and I get home on the 23rd and I leave again on the 26th, that would be pointless. And pretty sad, right? But I like celebrating things, like Christmas, the Fourth of July. Because it’s all about being together with your family and friends, not commercialism. So I like Reverend Billy and his Church of Not Shopping.
Any memorable Yuletide shows?
Holiday shows are weird, because you’re not with your family, friends or significant other. But we played a great Easter show in the early ‘80s at the Roxie once. Me and John (Doe, Xs co-lead vocalist) are really into symbolism, Catholicism and religious iconography, and we did a big Easter setup onstage with crosses and candles, and I remember Jack Nicholson came to see us that night. That’s not exactly a holiday story, but it was very cool!
IF YOU GO
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 8, 9 p.m. Dec. 9-10
Tickets: $35 to $99
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.com