X hits the spot

Pearl Jam, Chilean punk fans, ’70s anger—just another 30 years for the definitive L.A. punk outfit

X in 1979.

X in 1979.


X plays Thursday, December 29, at Harlow’s, 2708 J Street; 7:30 p.m.; $32.50; www.harlows.com.

X, a seminal band in rock-music history, has a sound that transcends genres, which may be why the group’s popularity is still widespread to this day. And, more than 30 years after forming, X is still touring and making new fans. SN&R recently spoke with the band’s lead singer, Exene Cervenka, about the current tour, including an upcoming Sacramento appearance.

Compare foreign-country audiences to U.S. audiences.

Well, they are both good. I want to say that the fans in South America are over the top. I have to give them credit for what they are. Their energy level is transcendent. I’ve never witnessed or felt anything like it in my life. However, there is a special energy that we have when we play here.

Does the energy you get from people in the U.S. feel more like friends, because it is where you are from?

No, I think that people are people. I want to see the ’70s energy of punk come back, without the anger. With other people accepting it, more than just a tiny little group. I want to see the original punk-rock ethic, not hardcore.

Is that ’70s punk anger coming back?

Yes. It has to. Otherwise, we’re all going to die.

How else are you going to survive if you can’t pay your rent? You get a roommate. You’ve got to get together with people. We’ve gotta get together.

You’ve been busy: the X Los Angeles 31st anniversary tour back in September and October, then a tour with Pearl Jam in South America almost immediately afterward, and finally right back out for the X-Mas Tour.

Yeah, well, you know, you work when you can. As a self-employed person in this country, if you get three jobs in a row, you take three jobs in a row. If you get one, you make that money stretch out. It’s the way it is for everybody.

Let’s hear about that Pearl Jam tour. It sounds like most of the shows were really huge.

They were big in every way. First of all, Pearl Jam are extremely generous and wonderful people. The audience had energy like I’ve never seen in my life. And it was in South America and Mexico. It was incredible. We didn’t get to “touristy” around a lot. We were working. But we got to see some things. Just being in those places and meeting people, like from Santiago, Chile, was just super awesome. It was like a reward.

How was the band received in those counties?

Over-the-top well. For being the opening band, I couldn’t believe it. They didn’t know who we were, but by the third show, everybody knew who we were. The Pearl Jam fans want to know everything about Pearl Jam. So it was like, “Who’s opening for Pearl Jam? X. Who’s X? Let’s figure it out.”

So, how is the X-Mas Tour going right now?

Well, this is a really good time for us right now, because we play San Francisco on New Year’s usually a couple of nights. And we play all over California. We just played some Arizona shows, and we’re doing really well. I mean, this is kind of like our home region, so we do really good playing here. Plus, we just got off that tour with Pearl Jam, so we’re kind of still very … on that level. You know what I mean?