Everclear Hit’s the Road for 20 Year Anniversary of So Much For The Afterglow

Catching Up With Art Alexakis about Everclear

Interview with M.A. Rivera of indiemusic.co

This interview has been edited for length.

photos by Paul Brown

Since bursting onto the national spotlight, Everclear has never gone away. Not from the radio, not from touring, not from continuing to release new music. This year though, is the twentieth anniversary of their benchmark album, So Much For The Afterglow. Everclear, helmed by singer/songwriter and guitarist Art Alexakis, are currently on Everclear B&W Paul Brown Phototour and performing the album in it’s entirety. Many of the songs are returning to the stage and some have never been played live previously.

Alexakis was gracious enough to find the time to sit and discuss Afterglow from it’s difficult inception to it’s legacy, as well 90’s nostalgia and chain wallet’s.

Indie Music: In 1997, following the success of “So Much For the Afterglow,” could you foresee Everclear having what it takes to still be going strong 20 years on?

Art Alexakis: No, Not really. It took about a year for it to become successful. The Record came out in Oct 97, but went platinum in may of 98, and double platinum by December 98. I drove everyone really hard on this album. Touring. I didn’t make a lot of friends. We toured constantly.

I was harder on myself than anyone. I’d remix singles 2 and 3 times. But the end result was a hit. I was very driven. I had a sound in my head and I wanted to achieve it. I was in that zone and afterglow was all about being in that zone. It was a magical part of my life when everything worked except for in my personal life.

The times I’ve made the most money in my life, I’ve been miserable. Now I couldn’t be happier, both professionally and personally. The money is ok, but I’d like to make some big money and still be a nice guy.

IM:I know you had played music for a long time prior to Everclear. Do you have any favorite memories from that time in the 90’s when the hard work paid off and band became huge?

AA:“Yeah, I remember when ‘Santa Monica’ was a big hit in the summer of 96 and we played this festival in D.C. at RFK stadium and it was literally like 70, 000 people. More people than you can imagine in one place. I remember looking out and everyone, everywhere I looked was singing along to every word. I was like, “Oh o-k. This is what this feels like.”

I have a lot of memories like that. One of my regrets is that I didn’t enjoy the success as much as I think i could now. I think that comes with age and experience. I wasn’t at that place where I could savor the moment and what it meant to me and to others. Other than that I had a pretty good time.

IM: A friend of mine told me Everclear were a huge part of her life growing up, and it gave her the strength to make important changes in her life. What is your reaction to the people who have internalized your music, and it’s become an important part of their life?

AA: It humbles me. I hear that a lot from people. I didn’t write things for other people. If it does that, it’s going to connect with other people as well. I think most creative things have to come from a selfish place before you can share it with the world. It doesn’t have to be autobiographical, but it has to connect with you.

When people say that record saved my life, I say me too dude. It’s been a wonderful milestone and legacy for me. One thing I never did was a make a solo record. I’m going to do that after the tour. Just me with an acoustic guitar and vocals. There’ll be some instrumentation. I’m going to play everything. It probably won’t be a huge record but it’ll be fun to do. That should be out early next year.

IM: But your records are consistently good. I’d rather listen to a small masterpiece than a huge piece of crap.

AA: I agree. And sometimes little records become huge. But you have to treat them like little records. Not think about where this might go or what the implications might be.

That’s sort of what happened with Afterglow. You know, everyone was saying, “Sophomore jinx, one hit wonder, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to prove that I was more than that, but I didn’t want it to be a reactionary piece of work.EVERCLEAR After Sparkle and Fade, I was determined not to be a one hit wonder.

I was by myself for two weeks in in a New York City, staying in a hotel. I’d eat pizza, walk around and watch Jerry Maguire 3 or 4 times, and I wrote in my room everyday. Worked on songs, made notes. Went through every song i’d written and realized some weren’t going to make the cut. One of the songs I wrote was So Much For The Afterglow. It was a fuck you to people.

After ‘Santa Monica’ it was like After the Gold Rush. You know, What have you done for me lately?

Expectations and other people’s perspective, you can’t pay attention to other people when it comes to being creative, you have to be selfish. Pay attention to what’s going on with you.

IM: So many of your songs lyrics deal with ordinary, everyday hardships. Does this sort of every man approach to songwriting come easily or or is it a conscience decision?

AA: I agonize over songs. None of my songs come easy. I write a lot from first person perspective. I love storytellers and I consider myself a storyteller. That’s why a majority of songs seem autobiographical. When in reality maybe 20% of them are. Another 30-40% are other things in my life that I create a scenario and character with, and then the rest, I just create songs.

People will say, “Yeah, I knew that girl.” I knew that girl, and her parents are pissed off.

I took something from life with the song ‘Heroin Girl.’ Esther was a girl in my second grade class. I liked the name, it’s a biblical name. The only part that was real is when it talks about the police say, “It’s just another overdose.” And my mom walks over to them and goes, “Not another overdose. This is my baby.”

My poor mom. I’m starting to cry now. I can’t imagine losing a child.

IM: Do you have a favorite song from to perform live?

AA: I think it changes from time to time. I’m really excited to play songs off this record we haven’t done in a while. ‘Normal like You,’ ’California King’ ‘One Hit Wonder,’ and ‘Sunflowers.’

There’s a song about my mom, ‘Why I Don’t Believe in God,’ that we’re going to play, but I’m kind of dreading it because I get overwhelmed with emotion. I cry every time we play it. But we’re going to play it.

IM: Aside from the music, you’ve directed some videos, acted in some films, and been hands on with the organization of the Summerland tour. Is there something else artistically/professionally you’d like to try?

AA: I’m a DJ on Sirius Satellite XM, Lithium, the 90’s alternative station. On Sundays, 6-12 East Coast, 3-9 on the West Coast. I was a DJ and had my own show in Portland and in college. I’m really enjoying that.

I’m mentoring people. Coaching and artist development, about the things I did right, but more importantly the things I did wrong. It’s not just for artists. How to pick a manager and what to pay them. And attorney’s and what to expect from them.

I’m writing a book. I have a book deal. It’s an autobiography.

IM: What are you’re thoughts on how music is being consumed right now? It’s hard to have a favorite anything when you have an endless playlist and are exposed to so much.

AA: People don’t get into records like they used to. They’re into songs. It’s hard to invest your heart and soul into a song. When you find an album that has a voice, and by voice, I don’t mean the singer’s voice, but the music and that work. Has a voice of it’s own. It’s lost for now, but everything comes back.

IM:Vinyl and cassettes have both had limited resurgence in popularity. Which do you think has a better chance of a reboot with 90’s nostalgia, wide legged Jnco jeans or chain wallets?

AA: I never stopped wearing a chain wallet. I think both keep coming in and out of style. I missed the wide leg jeans.

Everclear is on tour now with Fastball and Vertical Horizon. See the dates listed below and there’s no good excuse for not seeing them live.

www.everclearmusic.com

4/28 – Melbourne, FL @ King Center for Performing Arts

4/29 – Fort Pierce, FL @ The Inlet

4/30 – Clearwater, FL @ Capitol Theatre

5/1 – Destin, FL @ Club L.A.

5/2 – Jacksonville, FL @ Mavericks Landing

5/11 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom

5/12 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox

5/13 – Airway Heights, WA @ Northern Quest Casino

5/14 – Billings, MT @ Pub Station Ballroom

5/16 – Calgary, AB @ Marquee Beer Market & Stage

5/17 – Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brians Event Centre

5/18 – Regina, SK @ Casino Regina

5/19 – Deadwood, SD @ Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center

5/20 – Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall

5/21 – Grand Junction, CO @ Two Rivers Convention Center

5/23 – The Colony, TX @ Lava Cantina

5/25 – Des Moines, IA @ Brenton Skating Plaza

5/26 – Welch, MN @ Treasure Island Resort & Casino

5/27 – Madison, WI @ Bratfest

5/28 – Kansas City, MO @ CrossroadsKC

5/30 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre and Ballroom

6/1 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE

6/2 – Arlington Heights, IL @ HOME Bar

6/3 – South Bend, IN @ Four Winds Field

6/4 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live (Fastball only)

6/6 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza

6/7 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues

6/8 – Portland, ME @ Aura

6/9 – Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

6/10 – Fairfax, VA @ Celebrate Fairfax! Festival

6/11 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall

6/13 – Thunder Bay, ON @ Rockhouse

6/15 – Winnipeg, MB @ Club Regent Event Centre

6/16 – Duluth, MN @ Grandma’s Marathon, Canal Park

6/17 – Moorhead, MN @ Bluestem Center for the Arts

6/18 – Wichita, KS @ The Cotillion

6/22 – West Siloam Springs, OK @ Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs

6/23 – New Braunfels, TX @ River Road Ice House

6/24 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues

6/25 – Midland, TX @ Wagner Noel PAC

6/27 – Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee

6/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco Theatre

6/29 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues

6/30 – Honolulu, HI @ The Republik

7/1 – Maui, HI @ Castle Theater

7/8 – Newton, IA @ Iowa Speedway

7/14 – Central Point, OR @ Jackson County Fair

7/16 – Las Vegas, NV @ Jackson County Fair

8/4 – Chamblee, GA @ Chamblee City Park

8/5 – Carrollton, GA @ Carrollton Summer Concert Series