Band set to perform at Valley Forge Casino in King of Prussia
STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Rising from poverty, neglect and drug addiction, Everclear’s front man and founder Art Alexakis overcame overwhelming odds to reach the heights of stardom before free-falling on to the path of rediscovery.
On the heels of Everclear’s latest release, “Black is the New Black” (2015), Alexakis is sharing his life experiences in his soon to be published book chronicling the peaks and valleys of life on stage and off.
“What I’m working on now is a story of my family and growing up in the housing projects of L.A.,” says Alexakis, from his home in Pasadena, Calif. “All the stuff I went through — the abandonment and the abuse. The book is a great story of an American family going through dysfunction and heartbreak and learning how to blend and how to not necessarily rebuild itself but reinvent itself. That’s what a lot of us had to do. My father wasn’t there for me, and I’ve worked really hard with both of my kids to break that cycle. I gotta say the thing that pleases me the most is that, even at my age, I still can learn to be a better person, a better father, a better partner, a better writer and singer.”
“There’s an element of luck in everybody’s life in being at the right place at the right time,” adds Alexakis. “Meeting the right person. A lot of it is tenacity, and I tell that to a lot of people. You might not be successful if you give up. You definitely will not be successful if you give up. Reinvent yourself everyday.”
Formed in Portland, Oregon in 1991 by vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Alexakis, “Everclear,” also featuring Craig Montoya (bass) and Greg Eklund (drums), rose from obscurity to multiplatinum success.
The success of their 1993 independently released debut album, “World of Noise,” earned Everclear a recording contract with Capitol Records.
“We toured and toured and sold 100,000 records without any songs on the radio,” recalls Alexakis. “That’s a hell of a feat. I’d seen a lot of people fall by the wayside after they were signed. I went to the band and said, ‘OK, this is where it starts. This is the beginning of the game. Game on! We’ve got to bring the best of us to this if we want to create a career or even make a great record and a great show. We have to start building great songs and we have to have great performances.’ I know it sounds kind of Hallmark and simple-minded to say it like that, but it’s really what it’s about.”
Everclear’s first three Capitol album releases — “Sparkle and Fade” (1995), “So Much for the Afterglow”(1997) (earning the band their sole Grammy as well as Billboard’s “Modern Rock Band of the Year”) and “Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile” (2000) — all went platinum.
The singles “Santa Monica,” “Father of Mine,” “Everything to Everyone,” “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Wonderful,” which served as the graduation song for the Columbine High School class of 1999, catapulted the band into the mainstream.
“The song “Santa Monica” basically introduced us to the world,” recalls Alexakis. “We did the 20th anniversary of that record last year, and we played the whole album in its entirety. It was amazing watching people. There were a few shows where it literally felt like 1995. People were in danger of hurting themselves they were jumping around so much.”
A presence throughout the 90’s alternative punk metal scene, Everclear was often compared to “Nirvana.” Their follow-up albums “Songs from an American Movie Vol. Two: Good Time for a Bad Attitude” (2000) and “Slow Motion Daydream”(2003) faired poorly. Montoya and Eklund departed the group in 2003, and Capitol released Everclear from its stable of artists the following year.
Following a brief stint as a solo artist, Alexakis resurfaced with a new band using the Everclear name. The band’s current lineup, featuring Alexakis (lead vocals, guitar) as the surviving original member, includes Dave French (guitar), Freddy Herrera (bass), Josh Crawley (keyboards), Sean Winchester (drums, percussion) and Stacy Jones (drums).
Alexakis’ desire to maintain a solo presence will find him returning to the road in May to perform scaled down live dates in a Storytellers format.
“I do this thing called “Songs & Stories,” where it’s just me and a guitar telling stories and singing songs,” says Alexakis. “It’ a lot of fun but it’s also kind of scary, ‘cause I’m playing without a net. I’m not screaming behind a big rock band where if I forget the words I can fake it. There’s no faking it when you’re by yourself. I love that intensity. It’s like being on a tightrope without a net. I think people really enjoy that.”
Alexakis is looking forward to returning to the Philly area this month when Everclear plays the Valley Forge Casino.
“When people come out to see Everclear, they’re going to hear all the hits. I’m a stickler about that,” says Alexakis. “You’re going to hear some old fan favorites, some deep tracks and definitely songs from our latest record. I try to keep it fun. It’s a rock and roll show — a lot of big guitars and a lot of intensity. I’m not really a crooner but more of a yeller. It’s what we do. If you like rock and roll you’re going to love the show.”
“I think our songs connect with people,” adds Alexakis. “I think it’s the melody and the combination of intense rock and roll and punk with some hard rock accents. I think that’s what we’ve always been. That’s what I’ve always aspired to be. I’m a middle-aged man that gets to play guitar in a rock and roll band. That’s pretty awesome.”