Everclear story - Newport Mercury 4/26//06 - full text
Art Alexakis turns to music to cope with the emotional weight of personal bankruptcy, a divorce and his mother's death.
'Different vibe.' Art Alexakis, Everclear's only original member, leads the band's evolution toward a different sound band and the search for a new label. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
EVERCLEAR IN CONCERT
Wed., 4-26, 8 p.m.
Edwards Auditorium, University of Rhode Island, Kingston
Tickets $10 public, $5 students
BY TIM KELLY
Art Alexakis is still living with some ghosts. He's also still making rock music as a way to deal with them.
Everclear, the Portland, Ore., band that spent a better part of the 1990s as commercial alternative radio darlings, remains Alexakis' musical outlet today. Some things have changed in recent years, though; the band is no longer on the major label Capitol Records, Alexakis is the sole original member, and the group is continuing to evolve beyond the brash, three-piece guitar rock sound that characterized its earliest output.
"It is Everclear," the 44-year-old singer/guitarist said during a recent phone interview. "They're still my songs. There's a different vibe. If you go to the fan sites, the overwhelming response has been positive. And I'm sure there are people who come to the shows wanting to hate us (now), but after they see us they are walking away believers."
While the band continues to play its old material at live shows, Alexakis said that he feels a need to incorporate folk, soul, vintage r'n'b - "the real r'n'b", he stressed - and singer-songwriter influences as he writes new material. "I am the type of person that gets bored when bands repeat themselves record after record," Alexakis said. "All it is is (a) lack of imagination."
The band recently completed the seventh full-length Everclear album, "Welcome To The Drama Club." "This is my early '70s Stones record," Alexakis said. "It's really raw. It sounds live because most of it was recorded with a live band. That's a lot different than sitting down with ProTools."
The album has yet to be released - the band is currently trying to secure a label, according to Alexakis - but the title is indication enough that Everclear remains a vehicle for some of the personal catharsis that characterized Alexakis' previous records.
"Can you tell I just went through a divorce?" Alexakis asked with a laugh. "I'm still kind of dealing with the fallout - emotionally, physically, financially."
In addition to the divorce, which Alexakis said led him to declare personal bankruptcy last year, Alexakis lost his mother three months ago after a long battle with cancer.
"That was the elephant in the room the whole time that we were recording," Alexakis said. "This album is really about relationships - denial, sadness, depression, anger, grief, letting go. It's a record I had to make. I couldn't not have made it. I had to get this out, otherwise, I would have probably ... imploded."
The current lineup of the band includes Sam Hudson on bass and vocals, David French on lead guitar, former Everclear drum tech Brett Snyder on drums, and keyboardist Josh Crawley, who brings B3 organ, piano, and clavinet to the mix. While none of these guys played on the Capitol releases, Alexakis said it doesn't feel like "the new Everclear lineup" anymore.
"We've been playing together for two years and three months now," he said.
Alexakis, who lives with his 13-year-old daughter Annabella, said that the maturity of the current lineup has helped them click.
"These guys are all well into their thirties," said Alexakis. "There's no drinking problems, no drug problems. All but one of them has children. We're all pretty much family guys, which brings a different vibe to it."
The URI show is what Alexakis described as a "one-off." The band is scheduled to fly to Hawaii for a show in Honolulu on Friday, then they're back home to their families. While it's not the life of fame and fortune that Everclear once enjoyed, Alexakis said, he still makes enough playing music to not need a day job.
"The one-offs are what pay the bills and the ex-wives," Alexakis said. "I don't make a lot, but I'm getting by."