Everclear's Art Alexakis: "I Miss Big Guitar"
Art Alexakis has worn many hats over the years: dad, political activist, and even actor. But the role we most enjoy the tatted up, white-haired singer in is as frontman of Everclear.
The guy who gave us rock radio hits like "Father of Mine," "I Will Buy You A New Life," and "Wonderful" is stoked about the upcoming album the group is wrapping up. It's so new it doesn't even have a name yet, but Alexakis promises the album will be the "heaviest" thing the band has put out in over a decade.
Alexakis, whose band ironically shares the same name as a ridiculously strong grain alcohol, will celebrate 25 years of sobriety this Saturday. Just two days before, he'll be in South Florida for the annual Summerland Tour, a fest bursting with '90s nostalgia that includes Soul Asylum, Eve6, and Spacehog. The night of heavy guitar riffs and raspy rock vocals takes place at the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre. Alexakis talked with New Times about the new album, the tour, his sobriety, and what he misses about the the decade that launched his career.
New Times: So, how are you? Are you still based out of Portland?
Art Alexakis: Nope, no moved out of Portland three years ago, almost four. February of 2011, when my oldest daughter went to college, my wife and I wanted to move somewhere warm. I'm from Southern California, she's from Arizona. So were in Portland, I was there for about 20 years. When my daughter went to college we moved to Pasadena, and that's where I'm at right now.
The Summerland Tour is full of the '90s. What do you miss about that decade and the music scene back then?
Well, the main thing that I enjoyed about it, you can call it alternative. I didn't think that most of the bands were really that alternative to anything, but I loved the fact that there was big guitar and great songs on the radio.
I loved the big guitar rock songs, big crunchy guitar, great melodies, cool lyrics, that's what I like, and I'm not really that out there. I love a good rock 'n' roll song and there was a lot of that going on back then. That's one of the reasons I wanted to start the Summerland Tour, to give some of those bands -- the bands that are still around and still making music, still making records, still touring, still being a band -- I want those bands to have a venue to go out and play their songs for people who both want to hear the old songs and want to hear some new songs.
I feel like a lot of the mainstream music they play on the radio today consists of bad lyrics and bad melodies.
Well, I think that they're not really pushing the envelope really hard. Instead of bands challenging each other to do something cooler and better. The bands now try as hard as they can to sound like whatever the number one song is. They're not really pushing the envelope and pushing themselves as far as the lyrics and melodies and interesting ideas go.
But I think music does this every 20 or 30 years, and then something like punk rock or hip-hop or Nirvana will come and kick its ass a little bit and change it up. I'm hoping that's gonna happen sometime soon. And it hope it has to do with rock 'n' roll, because I miss big guitar.
What's happening next with the band?
We just made a brand new record that's the heaviest record we've made in probably 15 years. It's just me and two guys in a room cranking up the guitars and going for it. I'm stoked. Doesn't even have a name yet. It has 11 songs. I haven't even mastered it yet. I think it's a great album. And I think it's gonna be the first record in a long time that'll get put on the radio.
I know you've done a lot of drug-related activism, are you still involved?
Well, I've always been part of that. I still work with organizations like MAP which is a musician's assistance program that works with getting people into programs. And, you know, I still go to meetings. Actually I'm coming up on 25 years of sobriety of being clean and sober, this Saturday. It'll be 25 years, probably almost as old as you are (laughs). I got clean and sober in June of 1989.
Invisible Stars was a great album, but it didn't get the kind of mainstream success it deserved, why do you think that was?
We weren't on a big label that could throw a lot of money at radio. That was one thing, and I don't think it fit any format really. I don't think it fit alternative, the way alternative was going at that time, and I don't think it fit rock radio. Whereas I think the new record sounds pretty rock radio. I'm hoping we're going to get played on rock radio a little bit. It'd be cool to have a song on the radio again.
What does your set list look like for the Summerland Tour? Will you be playing anything off your new album?
We are going to do a new song from the record. It's called "The Man Who Broke His Own Heart," and we're thinking that'll be the first single.
Who's ready for #SummerlandTour 2014?— Art Alexakis (@artalexakis) March 10, 2014
Everclear with Soul Asylum, Eve6, and Spacehog, 7 p.m., June 13, at Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, 1806 NE 6th St., Pompano Beach. Tickets cost $16.25 to $96.25. Visit summerlandtour.net.