If even Art Alexakis, Everclear’s frontman, has creditors on his mind, it’s probably OK for us mere mortals to be so preoccupied.
“I gotta pay the bills, bro. I’m not independently wealthy. I’m not getting checks and [then] going to play golf,” Alexakis said via phone from his home in Pasadena, California. “Who knows where I’ll be in five to 10 years. I might be in a wheelchair, so I’ve gotta strike while the iron’s hot.”
From that metaphorical forge, Alexakis has crafted a new album with his band, “Everclear Live at the Whisky A Go Go,” recorded at the iconic Sunset Strip juke joint, and which bows September 8. Everclear is also hitting the road in honor of the 30th anniversary of their major label debut, 1993’s “World of Noise.” Their 32-date tour brings them to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, September 13, for the first time—and where they will share the bill with The Ataris.
However, sometimes the musician wishes it was easier to get home after a faraway gig.
“The music is fun, playing live is fine, meeting people is fine. The traveling, not so much fun,” said Alexakis, 61. “I’d rather have a little Star Trek [transporter] and mysteriously appear somewhere, play a show and go home and get in bed with my wife. That would be my dream.”
Alexakis’s struggles with substance abuse and multiple sclerosis are both well documented aspects of his rock n’ roll life. He’s been sober for 34 years and takes medicines to slow the progressive of the degenerative neurological disease. He continues to care for himself in order to continue being front and center with his vocals and his guitar.
“The older you get, man, shit happens,” Alexakis said, adding he keeps on the up and up thanks to a regimen of diet, swimming and physical therapy—to say nothing of the support of his wife and two daughters. “I always was tenacious, and I push through. Some days are better than others, just like for anyone.”
Everclear formed in Portland, Oregon, in 1991, and released their heavy sound on the Los Angeles scene soon thereafter. A native Californian, Alexakis relocated back south after several years in Oregon, claiming the Southern California weather is better for his health. Other members of his family and friends still live up north, but California is home.
“But living there as opposed to living in Pasadena?” he asked rhetorically. “Nah, I love Pasadena, dude.”
Alexakis is the only member of Everclear to be consistently involved in the band since its inception. They’ve sold millions of records, and singles such as “I Will Buy You a New Life,” “Santa Monica” and “Father of Mine” continue to make their ’90s sound recognizable on retro radio and nostalgia tours.
Of the new live record, Alexakis says that the Whiskey was packed to the rafters with fans—possibly to the consternation of the fire department. Although he’d attended many shows there before, Everclear had never taken to that stage prior to the live recording.
“It was rad, people singing along. You can hear it in the [record],” the frontman said. “No overdubs. What you see is what you get.”
He said Fillmore audiences can expect to hear several new songs from the live album, such as “Sing Away” as well as last year’s “Year of the Tiger.” A new video for “Sing Away” is ready for your enjoyment as well; the single drops September 8.
Alexakis said that because the tour schedule is brisk, he almost certainly won’t have time to do much sightseeing in and around D.C. surrounding Everclear’s Fillmore stop. Of the 32-date tour, he will have five days off—none consecutively.
“We’re working, man,” he said.
Thankfully, his work has often included some incredible moments of play. Alexakis relates that Everclear once shared a bill with David Bowie. Not only did the late rocker know Alexakis by name, he referred to the younger artist as “Arthur.”
“As I walk off, he’s sitting there and looks at me and says, ‘Well done, Arthur, good job,’” Alexakis said. “Oh my god! David Bowie knows my name!”
There was also that time at Woodstock 99 when 300,000 people started singing along the words to “Santa Monica.” Alexakis says he and his bandmates flew the coop before that notorious music festival quite literally went up in flames. Alexakis shared that the bands who were mentioned in the 2021 documentary “Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage” all had something negative said about them.
“They didn’t mention us, so [we’re] happy,” he said with a chuckle.
But what about the next generation? Would he support his daughters if they opted to follow their famous father to the Sunset Strip in the hopes of making it big?
“The business isn’t the business it used to be. It’s a different world, unfortunately,” he said when comparing the industry now to the one in which he came up in the ’90s. He decried Spotify and its “pay” structure that coughs up fractions of pennies to the artists for millions of plays. “It’s reverted back to like the ’50s when the labels dictated how much they were paying people. There was no status quo—they gave someone a car, 500 bucks, and that’s all they ever got.”
Since he doesn’t see the industry shifting away from the pennies-for-streaming model anytime soon, Alexakis advises artists to not give away their publishing rights, avoid the major labels entirely and maintain the intellectual rights to the recordings themselves—as he has ensured with “Everclear Live at the Whisky A Go Go.”
And even if a little luck does come along and you manage to develop a following, the hard work remains. Touring is today’s major revenue-maker, even if you are a major act such as Everclear with a new record out.
“At least back in the day they paid a real royalty. They don’t even do that anymore,” he said. “If my daughter came to me and said she wanted to do it I’d say, OK, let’s find an equitable way for you to express yourself creatively but realistically—because the life that you think you’re going to get is probably not going to happen.”
Asked if he’ll continue to keep on rocking as long as the Rolling Stones, who are now in their 80s, Alexakis can’t help but laugh. He claims that, when he was younger, people in their 60s—as he is now—were mostly to be found in assisted living.
“Now they have tattoos and big old earrings,” he said.
The Fillmore show will celebrate Everclear’s three decades in the spotlight. Whether you’re seeking that nostalgia hit from hearing “Heroin Girl” or are intrigued by the newer songs, Alexakis promises audiences a fine evening.
“Dude, at 61 I get to play guitar for a living [and] sing for a living,” he enthused. “How cool is that?”
Everclear with The Ataris will perform at the Fillmore Silver Spring on September 13. Tickets are available at LiveNation.com. “Everclear Live At The Whisky A Go Go” will be out September 8.
Meanwhile, a recently released live version of “Heroin Girl (Live)” is available now on major streaming platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music.
A native of New Jersey, Eric Althoff has published articles in “The Washington Post,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Napa Valley Register,” “Black Belt,” DCist, ScreenComment.com and Luxe Getaways. He produced the Emmy-winning documentary, “The Town That Disappeared Overnight,” and has covered the Oscars live at the Dolby Theater. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his wife, Victoria.
Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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