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Interview with Art Alexakis of Everclear

Everclear is a band that will always push that nostalgia button. Whether it’s “Santa Monica”, “Father of Mine”, “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” or one of their other countless hits, Everclear remains a household name in alternative rock. Perhaps their days of ruling the charts are over but the band is still touring and now is ready to release their new album, Black is the New Black, next spring. Lead vocalist, guitarist and founding member of the band, Art Alexakis, is also embarking on a nationwide solo tour to promote the new songs and share stories of the bands new and old material. He recently caught up with me to discuss the new album, tour and looking back on a memorable career.

Me: So you will be hitting the road in mid November for a solo tour. What can people expect to hear and see at these shows?

Art: It’s me and a guitar playing my songs and my songs are basically Everclear songs. That’s what I have been writing for the last 20 years of my life. I’m going to play the hits, some fan favorites, and some songs off our new record coming out next spring. I’ll be telling the stories behind the songs and getting the audience interacting by singing and playing along.

Me: The Summerland tours that you started have been pretty successful. What gave you the idea for the tour and how did it come about?

Art: I think a lot of people have been thinking about doing a 90’s thing for a while. My criteria was a little bit harder. I wanted bands that didn’t just have big hits in the 90’s but also bands that are still bands now chasing the carrot. They were making music because they had to. Not just for money but because this was all they knew how to do. There’s definitely a sense of nostalgia, which I think is cool but at the same time these are real bands still knocking it out and putting out records.

Me: Is there a band you have wanted to get on board for the tour but haven’t been able to lock down yet?

Art: Yeah, I would love to have Nirvana , haha, that would be a good one. There are some bigger bands but everyone wants a lot of money. If it were just between the bands and musicians then everybody would want to do it because it is fun. Once you throw in management and agents and everybody, it becomes kind of difficult. That’s why I took control of it and dictate to people how it is and what they’re going to get. If you wanna do it. great, if you don’t? Someone else will wanna do it. It’s also not a lot of money. I try to keep the tickets down to 25-30 bucks per ticket.

Me: So, Everclear has a new album, Black is the New Black, coming out next spring. What can you tell me about the new album? Does it sound like the older albums or what is the overall feel of it?

Art: I don’t know if it sounds like the older albums but I sure felt like I did when I was making World of Noise and Sparkle and Fade. It’s primarily guitars and we’ve got a band of five guys. It’s just a super heavy, old school Everclear rock record. There’s no screamo on it but the bass the drums and guitars sound big as hell. It’s a ballsy rock record.

Me: It’s been about two years since your last release, Invisible Stars, and before that you had some pretty lengthy hiatuses between records. What was with the quick turnaround for this new one?

Art: I’ve just been writing like a crazy man right now. If I have songs that sound like a record then lets make a record. For six years I wasn’t really writing. I was paying attention to taking care of my family and growing. I was just trying to figure shit out better.

Me: Let’s go back a little bit. Following the success of Sparkle and Fade you came out with my personal favorite So Much for the Afterglow. At the time, did you feel pressure to make a really great album? Were you confident? What was the overall vibe at that point in your career?

Art: You know man, that’s a good question. It’s weird. We weren’t an overnight success. I had been playing in bands for over 18 years and Sparkle and Fade wasn’t our first album. But people loved “Santa Monica” and we went platinum. It was awesome and amazing and scary, all at the same time. There was a lot of pressure. I went in and made the record I wanted to make and once I mixed it, I listened to it and said, “maybe it’s just me, but it’s ok, not great. “ I played it for my A&R guy and he said “it’s a good record, not great. Not a great record. This is going to be considered a sophomore slump. This is what people are going to call it.”

I knew that in my heart that this wasn’t the best record I could make. I spent two weeks walking around New York City just writing songs in my room and doing a lot of soul searching. I wrote 3 or 4 new songs and got the band and everyone on the phone and said, “I know what we are going to do. Book the studio for these dates and let’s move on.” I don’t want to sound cheesy saying it but really the rest is history. We went in and tweaked and wrote new songs and that’s probably my favorite album as well. It’s ballsy, big, shows a different side of the band and most importantly, it rocked.

Me: Slowmotion Daydream is an underrated album of yours in my opinion. Are you ever disappointed or shocked if people don’t like your records? Or are you making them more for yourself as opposed to make people happy?

Art: Do I want people to like me? Of course I do. I wouldn’t get on stage in front of people. Anyone who says they don’t have an ego that does that is just lying to themselves and lying to you. Admiration feels good. Is that why I do it? No. I wish I was that simple but I’m not.

To be honest with you, I really didn’t want to make a rock record at that time. I wanted to make more of an acoustic record, which I should have done and come back and made that record when I wanted to make it. I was never upset about it though. Do I think that record should have done better? Yes. I think there were better songs on that record.

Me: Looking back on your career is there a song that is your favorite?

Art: There are some that I really like a lot. There’s a song on our fourth record called “Learning How to Smile” which is a great song. I like “Summerland” off Sparkle and Fade a lot. I really like “So Much for the Afterglow.” I think we’ve done some really good work and I’ve been blessed to play with really cool people and different incarnations of the band. But, it’s always been my thing and if you like it, thank you and if you don’t like it…sorry, go fuck yourself.

To be honest, I cannot wait to get out on the road and play these fucking songs off of the new album. I’m just so excited; it’s rock and roll. I’ll never stop loving rock and roll…ever. I’ll be 90 years old still pissing off people. I still get excited when I walk out on stage. It never gets old.

Me: What would you tell yourself now that you didn’t know back in the Sparkle and Fade era?

Art: Don’t get married so much! Stop it! No, I’d probably just say pay attention to what’s going on and take the blinders off a bit even though it’s scary. I tried to not let success effect me. I didn’t enjoy the way up as much as I think I should have. Just fucking ride it and be present. You worked your whole life for this and you’re achieving it. Enjoy it.

 

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