Tuesday, May 02, 2006

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

Wed., 4-26, 8 p.m.
Edwards Auditorium, University of Rhode Island, Kingston
Tickets $10 public, $5 students


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."

Aloha story - Newport Mercury 3/29/06 - full text

Greetings from Aloha

Happy to meet Aloha. Say hello to an ear-pleasing fresh sound from, from left, Matthew Gengler, T.J. Lipple, Tony Cavallario, Cale Parks. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOGRAPH BY SHAWN BRACKBILL

With The First Annual, Cutlass & The Hot Sexest
Sun., 4-2, 3-6 p.m.
Behind the Student Union, Roger Williams University, One Old Ferry Road, Bristol
Free and open to the public


The word "aloha" often is used as a greeting. In the case of the band Aloha, that's what they hope to be doing on their current tour.

"We're trying to expose as many people to us as we can," said Tony Cavallario, Aloha's 28-year-old singer/guitarist/keyboardist. Cavallario was escaping the 30-degree chill in his tour van outside a Lexington, Ky., club last Tuesday evening when reached by phone. The prog-infused indie rock band would be sharing the stage with the band Swearing At Motorists later that night, part of a club sweep it was doing to warm up for a 50-odd date U.S. tour in support of its upcoming fourth album, "Some Echoes" (on the Polyvinyl Records label).

While the band has hit the road extensively - albeit randomly - since its inception in 1997, Cavallario said that this is the first time Aloha has focused on taking the band to the next level, career-wise.

"When we play live, we're always full throttle... (but) what we're doing is finally following the advice that the indie rock industry has given all along," Cavallario said - namely, record an album, release it, then tour in support of it. "The alternative would be to sit back and hope someone happens to decide that we're the next big thing. By 'next big thing,' I don't mean that we're expecting to become the next Pearl Jam. I mean an art rock band that sells 20,000 copies (of the new record)."

"Art rock" is probably the most concise summation of the Aloha sound. At the core is a four-piece rock band - guitar, bass, drums and keyboards - but the tunes are highlighted with vibes, mellotron, organ, marimba and Casio, and band members aren't afraid to play around with unusual time signatures. There are moments on "Some Echoes" when it's clear that these guys have at least one Yes album among them, but they never come off as rank imitators of the prog genre, especially in terms of the excess, sonically and otherwise. "We don't go on stage wearing capes," Cavallario noted with a laugh.

Deep down, Aloha makes adventurous pop songs, and the 10 cuts on "Some Echoes," which clocks in just shy of 40 minutes, hint at the variety of influences at play. On one tune, you might be reminded of the psychedelic post-punk of bands like XTC, on another you may detect an affinity for '60s pop along the lines of the Beach Boys, and on yet another you'll realize why it makes sense that they've been compared in the past to singer-songwriters like Rufus Wainwright.

"We all appreciate jazz and instrumentally intense music," Cavallario said. "A lot of what we listen to is for education as much as enjoyment. We are definitely scavengers in that sense."

Over the years, Aloha has developed a reputation for improvisation, but Cavallario said that the songs in their live set are not going to stray the point where they are unrecognizable.

"We try to stay pretty faithful to the songs," he said. "A lot of the improvisation happens when we're going from one song from the next. There's definitely room for new things - you need to have some flexibility when you're playing the same songs night after night, otherwise we're going to get bored as shit."

For Aloha, putting together a tour is slightly more of a logistical challenge than it might be for a local act that scrapes up some dough, piles their gear into a van and hits the road. Cavallario, who often works for newspapers, lives in Rochester, N.Y. Bass player/co-founder Matthew Gengler, 31, lives in Cleveland and is pursuing a library degree. Drummer/keyboardist Cale Parks, 26, calls Cincinnati home when he's not recording or touring with indie giants Joan Of Arc and Cex. And keyboardist/marimba player/drummer T.J. Lipple, 28, lives in Arlington, Va., where he runs the recording studio Silver Sonya, along with Chad Clark of Beauty Pill.

"It's hard to leave our lives and spouses behind," Cavallario said. "But when we get in the van, there is definitely a brotherhood that we've developed from playing together. The fact that we're focused on a goal this time, it feels like work, it feels like being productive.

"I love to play live," Cavallario said when asked if he had a preference when it came to touring versus recording. "I am totally comfortable on stage. But it's sort of a fleeting thing. You play a show and then you move on. Recording is forever. The gravity of that is what gets me. Recording is where Aloha can really make our mark. It's a great feeling to make a record."