(TRR) We recently had a chance to catch up for a quick chat with iconic Everclear frontman Art Alexakis to discuss the band’s upcoming summer tour, changes in the music industry, his work on a solo acoustic record and more! Also, it is hard to believe that one of Everclears’ most popular albums “So Much For The Afterglow” will be turning 20 years old this year and the band is headed out on a summer trek to celebrate for which we can’t wait!
Q: “So Much For The Afterglow” is one of our personal favorites from the band and it is hard to believe it turns 20 years old this year. We know you are headed out for a massive summer tour this year to celebrate, how does it feel looking back on that particular album?
ART ALEXAKIS: Thanks! It’s definitely one of my personal favorites too! It was a big deal making that record, just the same way that “Sparkle and Fade” was a big deal and the success from that was amazing. I wasn’t super surprised when it happened because I knew it was a great record … that we made a really good record and I wanted to make a really good second record. Back in the day there was all this talk about one-hit wonders and sophomore slumps and stuff like that and I was just driven to not let that happen. It took awhile to make that record happen, but when we did I was really pleased with it. It’s the kind of record I can listen to from beginning to end, even now, without that cringe factor and I’m really excited to get out there and play these songs this summer. Some of them we have never even played live ever, so it’s going to be fun.
Q: We thinking that is what is lacking now with so many album releases. We are missing the whole aspect of being able to pop on the entire album and listen to it from start to finish.
AA: It makes sense because it’s an album. There’s something about it that ties all the songs together and while it doesn’t necessarily have to be a concept record, it just feels like an album, if that makes sense. People aren’t making those anymore because the technology is not really set up for it right now. Services like Spotify exist now and everyone wants to hear, or rather stream, what ever their favorites songs are and it’s not a thing where you start a CD or a record at the beginning or even a tape and listen through. It’s a whole different mindset.
Q: We feel like everyone gets trapped in the singles market.
AA: Even back in the day there were still albums that would come out and it just seemed like they would have the hit and there would be one other really great song and the rest just sounded like filler. If you’re going to make an album, you gotta throw down and put your whole heart and mind and body and soul into it. It’s not easy to make a good record … a whole record that does different things but still sounds like your voice. Not just the singing, but lyrically and musically and all that stuff. The bands that pull it off like The Pixies, they had two or three records like that, Led Zeppelin was great at that and everything sounded like Zeppelin for the first four or five records. Those records are just unbelievable and Stevie Wonder went through that period with about four or five records and it’s just amazing.
It’s inspiring to know that I think there’s a lot of acts out there now that are getting frustrated with how the music industry is now and that’s how it always is, you know? Someone’s going to get pissed off and somethings going to come out of it like punk or hip-hop did or alternative did and it’s going to blow over the top. I think with what’s going on politically in this country, it’s going to add a little extra dissension to the mix. I’m kind of excited to see what’s going to happen in the next couple of years musically.
Q: Music has always been something that people have turned to, especially in times like these and we love that so many artists have a voice. Hopefully they will not be afraid to use it.
AA: Yeah, with the way things are now there is this tendency where they want to squelch the press and confuse everyone with “fake news” and all that stuff to create smoke and mirrors, but it’s nothing new. People have been doing it for years. Even back before Hitler, it goes back to the Roman Empire, they did that crap then and the church did it for years. It’s nothing new and people just need to know that and with the advent of social media there’s always a venue and a platform to get what you want to say out there, so that’s a good thing.
Q: We’ve seen so many changes in the music industry over the years with one of the biggest ones being the up rise of social media. Have any of those changes had an effect on the way that you approach recording, new music and promotion?
AA: (laughs) Well, we’re not recording on tape anymore! You record on Pro Tools and you can either use it to tune it and make it something it’s not or you can use it as just a recording device. I think it’s opened up a lot for a lot of people and it’s just made it more accessible and to me that’s a good thing. Having the ability to make music and film and taking the stigma of this huge dollar amount and having to go through this major label structure, now you can just buy a computer and do it yourself. If you’ve got the goods … you’ve got the songs … then it all comes down to the songs. It comes down to the content whether it’s film or whatever. “Moonlight” recently won the Oscar for Best Picture and it’s such as simple and easy film to make, no special effects, nothing crazy. It was all about the story and the content and that to me was huge. It inspired me.
The same thing with the music. I want to make a solo acoustic record this year sometime and I’m writing songs, just me and the guitar, if there’s any other instrument I’m going to play it, it’s going to be very minimal. Very stripped down.
Q: We did hear that you were planning work on a solo release. How far along in the process are you?
AA: I’ve got about two of three songs recorded and we’re working on it. It’s a slow process. I had to deal with some health stuff early in the year and I just got some back surgery that I need to get and I’m still recuperating from that, so I probably won’t be jumping off speakers anytime soon (laughs)
Q: That’s good! You have to take care of yourself!
AA: I’m getting too old for that anyway (laughs) But, no, I’m in good shape and just very happy with my life and my family and working … doing different things and just being grateful. I think that’s going to come out in songs and they are starting to come together. They are a little more militant than I thought they were going to be (laughs)
Q: How therapeutic is the creative process for you? It has to be a release even if you are not expecting it to come out that way!
AA: Well, you can take the boy out of the punk rock, but it’s hard to take the punk rock out of the boy! Even with acoustic guitar … the fire’s there! I still have the fire in my belly.
Q: Is there any Everclear material in the vault? Anything you would think about going back to and revisiting?
AA: Not right now. We made a record a couple of years ago called “Black is the New Black” which I believe was released in 2015 or 2014 (laughs), and it was just a lot of fun to make and just one of my favorite records. It is one of my favorite Everclear records ever, as it’s a really hard rock record. It was dark and it just sounded good and I think I just want to do some different stuff for a while. We are going to do this 20th anniversary tour and “The Noise” turns 25 in 2018, so we might do something for that, so we might do something somewhere, but for right now just concentrating on doing my solo record and I’m working on a book which is kind of a memoir of my childhood.
I’m also doing this thing with artist development where I’m going online and running classes just talking about the things I’ve learned. You know, the things I did right and the things I did wrong (laughs). Just trying to be a mentor for people who want to be in this business.
Q: That is a wonderful thing because so many artists get lost in all the confusion that can be the music industry. They can lose their purpose sometimes without some type of guidance.
AA: Right, exactly! Also, I’m a DJ on Sirius XM Lithium and I have my own a show on Sunday nights that begins at 6pm EST.