Everclear fans, get your tickets because this tour promises to be awesome celebrating twenty years of their classic album So Much For The Afterglow. Founding father and main songwriter Art Alexakis, lead Everclear through the 90’s with their infectious hooks and personal lyrical content, clocking up multiple smash hits and galvanising a generation of long-time fans. So Much For The Afterglow spawned the hit singles Everything To Everyone, Father Of Mine and I Will Buy You A New Life which remains the band’s best-selling album. On the eve of their Australian tour I spoke to Art Alexakis about that classic album and what’s planned ahead for the band.
Fantastic news that Everclear are back in the country for another tour. My fondest memories of Everclear was the rain affected show on the Barr Smith Lawns at the University of Adelaide with Silverchair that was later moved to Thebarton Theatre.
Right! How old were you back then? I was in my thirties then and now I’m in my fifties, I get it! The first trip to Australia was so exciting for us, so exciting.
It must be great to know that the love for Everclear in Australia is just as strong now as it ever has been before?
Well, there is a certain buzz about it and judging by the tour we did here for So Much For The Afterglow it was a bustling tour, it was exceptional, it was a trip seeing how many people connected with this record. Judging by that I think it will more like that in Australia.
Is Australia up there as one of the best places to tour?
Yeah, Australia has always been a really big stronghold for us and we toured there two years ago which was really successful. Even then I had a lot of people asking when we were coming back to play this whole album in full.
Do you feel incredibly proud still when you look back at what you achieved with So Much For The Afterglow and how much it means for so many others?
Absolutely, I’m still very humbled by it to be totally honest with you. I am very grateful that to have something like this. It was hard but this record was three times as successful but even from an artistic point of view I really bared myself, left it all in the studio and didn’t hold anything back. When I was done with this record I felt like there was nothing I could do, not from a music point of view or an artwork point of view, I just dug as deep as I could and I had nothing left and then was ready to tour on it because it was like it was the best I could do. It took me about a year to do that.
When you bare your soul like that did you feel emotionally drained, in a lot of ways a cleansing process so to speak?
For sure, there are definitely songs like that which are autobiographical then there are the other’s that are personal. Even if they weren’t autobiographical or anywhere in my life there’s a song called Sunflowers that isn’t autobiographical or straight from my life in any way but it is still a very personal song. When I play that song it makes me want to cry because it is so emotional. I felt like I really tapped in to something inside of me and I was hoping that it would connect with people. I didn’t know the song was that intense or was going to connect with people. I remember playing that song Father Of Mine and I had to deal with the lyric in that song, I didn’t ask for approval to make a record.
When I was in LA I went and saw my label guy and hooked up an acoustic guitar and played him a couple of songs to give him and idea of where the record was going. I remember playing Father Of Mine in acoustic form and this guy has been in the industry for years, he’s a brick and not the most emotional guy and he sat there behind his glasses with tears in his eyes. When I finished the song we both noticed there was a sound from outside the office as the door was open and I walked out there and his assistant was sitting behind her desk balling, just weeping with her head down from hearing that song so was the girl on the other side. I’m like wow this is going on the record. It is great to have that kind of support in your team to be able to do things that are not necessarily the most obvious commercial ideal instead of writing a bunch of pop songs that would connect with people on a superficial level. I wanted to go for the juggler and go for the vein, write a record that I would like. If I like them other people will like them, that’s the idea.
Looking back do you get nostalgic particularly playing these songs that meant so much too so many people?
I don’t really feel a sense of nostalgia, I grew up with people and I totally get it. Too me these songs even though they are written by me my perspective has changed but still relevant to me. It’s still my words, my music and my heart and soul, my experience, my ups and downs it is still relevant. We perform the songs to them as brand new songs with as much attitude, excitement and enthusiasm as possible. We’re not just playing the songs as they are on the record, we’re presenting them as new songs. To be playing rock ‘n roll at our age and very privileged to be doing that at our age and for so long.
Is there anything about that record when you listen to it that you would like to change or are you of the belief it is what it was and leave it in all its splendour?
To be honest with you, this record was one of those records that even if I thought we could do things better I don’t. I wouldn’t change a thing on this record, this record is a perfect document of where I was when I delivered this record. I didn’t write singles on purpose, I just wrote the best songs that I could. The record company was happy, I was happy and it was one of those things that connected with people. To me the best bands are those that never found the same thing from record to record but they always found themselves and that’s where I wanted to get to.
Are there any songs from So Much For The Afterglow that are harder to play or you had to relearn?
Yeah, we had to go in to rehearsals and there are a lot of songs off that record that we still play in our set but there were some that we hadn’t played in years and there were a few that we had never played before we toured this record in the States. There is a song called Why Don’t I Believe In God had never been played live, it’s a song about my mum going through a really hard time which was really emotional. It is still emotional every time we play it but we play it with a banjo every time we play it live. It gets this huge response even though it wasn’t a single because it is so emotional. We had to go in to rehearsals as the band hadn’t played any of these songs so we spent three days rehearsing them to be able to go out on the road. We play the whole album then take a break and play some hits.
I would be happy to listen to you play for six hours and get through everything…
Ha! Ha! I don’t think I would have enough voice to cover six hours. An hour and a half, twenty two songs, is a lot of time.
Twenty six years and still going strong and continuing to grow the fan base, does it continue to amaze you to be in this position?
When I step out of myself and look at it, yes! It is very humbling and I am very grateful. There is a lot of gratitude to my family to allow me to travel so much and put so much of myself in to my music but when I step out of myself and look at it, it is kind of amazing that I am fifty five years old and still playing to hundreds and thousands of people every night depending on where we are. Almost every night, not every night, people are singing my words back to me every night which is the greatest thing that can happen for any song writer.
Are there any plans for some new music at some point?
Well, not for an Everclear record but I am making a solo record, my first one I have ever done. It is just going to be me in the studio, an engineer and a co-producer. We’re going to do it over the next six months recording mostly acoustic songs. I’ll play everything and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, a real solo record, just me. It is exciting, I don’t know how commercially successful it will be but artistically it sounds like a blast. There’s going to cameras everywhere recording the whole thing and we’re definitely using the crowd funding platform Pledge Music which we used on our last record Black Is The New Black which came out in 2015. We’ll be doing more of the same but more of it. People can go online and see me working on the ideas of the songs and how I came up with the drum part, how I played it, it will be funny and interesting at the same time then seeing the finishing result. There are all sorts of things we have planned for it.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Everclear on the following dates…