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Art Alexakis – Everclear

Art Alexakis – Everclear

From the Song “Wonderful” the lyrics “everything is wonderful now” certainly applies to Everclear and their Summerland tour, which is adding on new dates. This year’s tour, which was originally started by extraordinarily talented Lead Vocalist, Guitarist Art Alexakis in 2012, will include Living Colour, Hoobastank and Wheatus. The tour runs through September with Everclear bringing their amazing hits throughout America for all to enjoy their live shows. Everclear originally hailed from Portland, Oregon in 1991, and have displayed their outstanding rock and roll abilities throughout the years since they released their debut album World Of Noise in 1993. They have achieved three platinum albums (Sparkle and Fade released in 1995, So Much For The Afterglow released in 1997 and Songs from an American Movie Vol One: Learning How To Smile released on 2000), and also received a Grammy Nomination in 1998.

Catching up with Alexakis, he revealed how he and bandmates Guitarist Dave French, Bassist Freddy Herrera and Drummer Brian Nolan are preparing for the tour, some details about their music, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: Everyone is looking forward to live shows so this is exciting. How did this Summerland Tour come together?

Art Alexakis: Well, it comes together like they always do. I start thinking about bands I want to have. I give out to my manager and we bounce them around. Then he goes out and starts to get the bands. This one came together pretty well. It’s funny because I’m a huge Living Colour fan. We’re playing a show in 2019, somewhere. It was like an old school 90’s radio show right, but they had Living Colour on there and they played on one stage. They played on the stage after us. The big stage, and after we got done, we ran to go do what we used to do is sign autographs at a table right next to the merch booths and people line up and do it, and I wanted to really hurry it up because I wanted to go see Living Colour play. As we’re doing it, the security guys goes, “ah this gentleman over here wanted to just say hi to you real quick.” And I turn around and it’s Vernon Reid and Corey (Glover) and their drummer (Will Calhoun) and I’m just like, oh my God, and we all go over there and say hi and take pictures with them, but they wanted to come say hi to us. Then I just went to my agent, I go, can you find out how much they’re worth a show? And if we can afford to have them on. I don’t know what we’re talking, and he came back with a decent price and I’m like, we can do that. And the same agent has Hoobastank and I thought that having something a little bit newer, great band that I really like a lot, would be great. Then when we were looking for first bands, I had read that Wheatus was touring again and I’m like, let’s see if we can get them to open it up and we did. The universe just started singing in harmony for a little bit there. Sometimes putting tours together is ah, it’s maddening.

SFL Music: What can fans look forward to with your Everclear show?

Alexakis: We’ll do a song from our latest record. We’re rehearsing a song off my solo record which came out last year or actually late 2019. You know, a more rockin’ version of it. That could be there, but we’re also playing all the hits. Playing different fans favorites and songs that we haven’t played. I don’t like to tip my hat too much because I want people to come out and enjoy it. Usually on Summerland headlining we play about 40 to 45 minutes. This year I’m going to play at least 50 minutes, so it’s going to be a great show.

SFL Music: People are looking forward to it. Did you say you have a new album coming out soon?

Alexakis: No no. Our last record came out in 2015 (BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK), but the solo record was the last thing that I put out in 2019. So, doing a song off that. It’s kind of like a new Everclear song. So that’ll be fun.

SFL Music: What prompted the solo record? Was there a theme or you were just writing? How did that come about?

Alexakis: I just didn’t want to do a rock record and I wanted to do something more acoustic. I’ve always had the desire to do a real solo record where no one playing on the record or singing on the record but me. Just me. And it’s called Sun Songs and it came out I think October 2019. Yeah, I’m really proud of the record. It’s very raw. Very raw sounding. I didn’t use a lot of Pro Tools and effects. Almost all acoustic guitars. Some acoustic keyboards. Just really minimal, and It’s reminds me a lot of the records I grew up listening to like early Cat Stevens. Maybe early Neil Young, Joni Mitchell you know, stuff like that. It has that kind of vibe to it. Little bit more rock and roll vibe. I’m a rock and roll guy. I try to do things all pretty and acoustic, but that’s not me. I’m a rock and roll guy. So, it comes out with that edge to it, but that’s the latest thing I’ve done. I’m just now starting to get my head around making another record. I’ve been pretty resistant to it. I just didn’t see the need, but talking with the guys, I don’t know. We’ll see. I’ve started writing a little bit. We’ll see where it goes.

SFL Music: Well, that’s something for people to look forward to. What inspires you when you write?

Alexakis: Everything. Anything that’s honest whether it’s like autobiographical or from a place in my life or other people’s lives that touched mine. Something I read or something I just imagined. I think, I’ve always tried to do on every record I’ve made, they need to be thematic. The songs have to work together, and it’s funny because I’ve seen a lot from the first person because I like story telling. I like story tellers and I like to be a story teller, and when people hear my records their like, oh wow I didn’t know that happened to you. I go, it didn’t. I just made that up (he chuckled). I’d say about thirty percent of the songs are autobiographical. About twenty-five, thirty percent, I take things from my life and create characters and create stories from real things that happen, but in different sequences, and then another twenty-five to thirty percent are me just writing stories. You know, I’m a writer and just telling the stories. Coming up with stuff, and I’m inspired by just things that are emotional and real and have character. I’m attracted to characters that are larger than life, but in a very down to earth way, if that makes sense.

SFL Music: Yes, it does. Are you a movie buff?

Alexakis: Huge. I went to film school. Yeah, I started as a journalism major then switched to a film major, and then school started getting in the way of my alcoholism and we couldn’t have that so (he laughed). Of course, I dealt with that about six years later, but it took me a little bit. I’m about to hit my 32nd sober birthday in June. So, that’s exciting.

SFL Music: Oh cool.

Alexakis: But yeah, I’m a big fan of film. Why do you ask?

SFL Music: Because you were talking about writing stories and getting ideas. It just came into my head that you might be.

Alexakis: I’m also very cinegrats, cinegraphic. Boy I just can’t talk today. Sorry. I’m having one of those days. I need to go out and swim in my pool. Everybody will be safe.

SFL Music: Is that what you do for exercise?

Alexakis: I do because I have Multiple sclerosis and I can’t get overheated, so swimming is a good way of exercising for me.

SFL Music: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Alexakis: About the MS?

SFL Music: Yeah, no.

Alexakis: Yeah, I got diagnosed about five years ago and I came out about it, about two or three years ago. I’d say two years ago. It was in Rolling Stone and Billboard. I think that there was even a blurb about it in People. Yeah, I was in a car accident. When they did an MRI they found lesions on my spine, my brain and yeah. I’ve been dealing with it off and on and I had it pretty good under control until I caught COVID in January. I had COVID for about two months. I was in bed for two months, so I’m working to try to battle a lot of muscle atrophy now you know, and just get to feeling better again. It’s ten times better than it was in February, March, but I’m still not a hundred percent yet. It is what it is.

SFL Music: That’s got to be tough and especially getting ready to go on tour. What prompted you to become a musician?

Alexakis: When I was, I’d say three or four years old, I think three. My parents would watch The Ed Sullivan Show and I remember seeing, like I would sneak out and they’d be on the couch with one of my older siblings and I’d be like hiding behind the couch and watch. They wouldn’t know I was there (he chuckled). I was sneaky. I was sneaky even then, and I remember seeing The Beatles play and it was the last time they played. I think it was ’66 and they were just getting done touring. I think it’s the last time they played Ed Sullivan, like third to fourth time they played Ed Sullivan, and I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing and I just ran to the T.V. I probably got my underwear, my t-shirt on you know, in my jammies, and I just, jumping up and down. My dad’s gonna take me back to bed. I’m screaming. Another thing, that summer we went camping and driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, I was sitting in the front seat with my mom and my dad. It’s when they had bench seats and nobody wore a seatbelt right? And they didn’t have car seats for kids and “Wipe Out” you know, the old surf song came on the radio and the drum beat, and I just started jumping up and down and laughing. Just having a great time. My dad changed the channel and my mom just started screaming and hitting my dad. Finally, he just turned it back on and pulled over to the side of the road and I danced ‘til the song changed and I laid down in my mom’s lap. They drove off. That’s me. I’m a rock and roll guy.

SFL Music: What would you recommend to up and coming artists from your experiences that you’ve had?

Alexakis: You know, people ask me that question and I got to just tell you. If it’s something that you really believe in. Honestly believe in. Not just want, but need, then you have to never give up. Somewhere down the line you have to, but when I see older people playing in bands, a lot of people are like, oh man, they’re past their prime. I’m like hey, fuck that! They’re doing what they believe in because I didn’t get signed until I was thirty-two. That was ancient at the time. They were telling me to lie. My label was telling me to lie about my age. Telling people, I’m twenty-four, twenty-five. I’m like nah, I’m not going to do that. I’ll forget and I don’t like it. I don’t like the elephant in the room. Not at all. So, just remember that if you don’t give up, there’s a good chance you’re not going to be successful, but if you do give up, there’s a 100% chance you’re not going to be successful what you want, and you have to have tenacity. You have to be able to reinvent yourself. You have to be your own worst critic and your own biggest cheerleader all at the same time. You have to walk that tight rope with that and you have to be able to seek constructive criticism in everything, and you have to still believe that this is what you’re supposed to do even when no one else believes it. Which is hard.

SFL Music: That’s great advice. Do you think that being from Portland influenced your music at all?

Alexakis: Well, I’m not from Portland, I’m from L.A. I lived in Portland. I moved up there in 1991 when my girlfriend who was from Portland who became my second wife was pregnant with our daughter. My oldest daughter Anna, and I lived there for twenty years ‘til Anna basically, or eighteen or nineteen years, ‘til she went to college. I love Portland and we were a Portland band, so I think that influenced us definitely. But yeah, no I grew up in L.A.

SFL Music: Well then you were around the whole entertainment industry, so that probably fed into…

Alexakis: Yeah. Oh yeah.

SFL Music: Do you have specific memories of the artists that you mentioned?

Alexakis: Yeah. Well, you know in the ‘70’s, Beatles, (The Rolling) Stones, Led Zeppelin, (Black) Sabbath. Anything with big guitars, but at the same time I was really into the singer/songwriting stuff. John Prine and Neil Young and people like that. Bruce Springsteen as I got older. You know, punk rock. Sex Pistols, Ramones, X the L.A. band. Punk rock band. One of my favorite bands of all time. All sorts of bands, and then Jane’s Addiction when they came out. I was living in L.A when they broke. Pixies, (The) Replacements. You know, all that stuff R.E.M. Big band, and lots of influences, but at the same time, I grew up listening, lived in a black neighborhood, so I listened to a lot of funk. Ohio Players, Earth, Wind & Fire, Commodores. Motown, (The) Jackson 5. I wanted to be. When I moved to the project, I got beat up and picked on a lot because I was the only white kid in my neighborhood and you know, I wished I was black so people would stop picking on me and also, if I could be in The Jackson 5.

SFL Music: That’s cool. We all liked The Jackson 5! What else can fans look forward to? Maybe that new album? Any new videos that would come with that?

Alexakis: Oh, we’re so far away from that. I think the next thing that will be public is, I’ve been working on getting ready to start writing a memoir and that should come, but what I’m working on right now that’s personal is, I’m going back to school. I’m finishing out the Life Coaching Course. Become a certified Life Coach and also, I enrolled in college to get a certification for alcohol and drug treatment to work with people. Then after I finish that, I’ll have another like six to nine months, probably about three quarters to get my bachelor in Psychology, and then I get my masters and just go from there. I want to work with creative people at every end of the spectrum. People who are famous. I’ve dealt with them. I know what that’s about. People who are on the grind, on the way up. I want to do that. So, probably early next year I’m going to start coaching people, and then probably about a year after that, I’ll expand my goals. I’ll be certified to work with people who have drug and alcohol problems and I already have a pretty good background in that because I’ve been clean and sobor for thirty-two years. So, yeah. that’s the future right now, but I also want to write. Finish that book, and I also want to keep playing shows as much as possible. Especially after COVID went away and it was a big hole in my life you know, not being able to play rock and roll.

Keep your eyes open SFL Music readers for Everclear and the Summerland Tour.

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