Celebrating 20 years — talking past, present & future of Everclear
Everclear is currently in the home stretch of a 34-date So Much For the Afterglow 20th anniversary tour. Celebrating the bands most successful selling album has been an inspiring experience for frontman, Art Alexakis. Songs like “Father of Mine” and “I Will Buy You a New Life” have been giants in a catalog full of hits. In addition, they represent the pure nature of Alexakis’ lyrical approach in sharing real-life experiences. It’s this honestly that has played a major role in piloting the record 20 years strong.
I recently caught up with Alexakis before the bands show at the House of Blues in Boston to discuss the infamous record, the challenges the band overcame in recording it and what lies ahead for Everclear.
What does 20 years of So Much For the Afterglow mean to you? What is the emotion?
It’s definitely an icon to me. It’s a benchmark. In some ways 20 years means a lot and in some ways, it means nothing. It doesn’t feel like 20 years ago. At times, it seems a lot longer. I’ve made nine albums and it’s not like I put everything into only the Afterglow album, I’ve put everything into every album. At the time, I was at a place where I made three multi-platinum records. Even back in the day when people were selling a lot of records, that was a big deal. That was what people called a career. I’m still touring because of that — in large part due to this record. I don’t feel like we are regressing or living in the past. This is a moment that we are specifically spotlighting that is a very important part of our past. That’s the good thing about nostalgia, it puts the blinders on to the bad things. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that as long as you realize that’s what it is. You have to be able to enjoy this then move forward.
This album came when it was supposed to come. It’s still connecting with people and it’s still connecting with me.
You are also looking at 26 years of Everclear. How does your longevity as a band compare to celebrating one record?
Well, we’ve had different members. I’m the only original guy left, but this always started as my project. It was me looking for people. I had the songs and the ideas of what I wanted to do. Just like Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan. Given that, the longevity of the band Everclear, and me working really hard to keep the integrity of it, no matter who played in it, I think that shows it’s something I have taken very seriously — the legacy of it. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve done my entire adult life and for a career. I think that’s awesome.
I’m very proud of what I created with Everclear. I don’t dwell on it, but sometimes I will look back and think — God, I’ve done this for a long time. I can’t wait to do another record. It’s just like anything else, it depends upon what you had for dinner last night.
Do you have a favorite memory from the So Much For the Afterglow time period?
There wasn’t one defining thing that represents what it was all about. There are a lot of points of light. Playing in support of the record in 1999, even though it was two years later, we played Woodstock ’99. That was amazing. When I wrote “I Will Buy You a New Life”, it all came together in two days. From the idea, to writing it, to recording, to mixing.
“I Will Buy You a New Life”, “Father of Mine” and “Everything to Everyone” were huge songs off that record. Did you know when you wrote them that you had something special?
Those three songs define the record. The thing about So Much For the Afterglow was back then albums would come out and what it did the first month would define the record in the industry. We came out in the 20’s, selling about 40,000 records, and then it really didn’t go down the charts as many usually would. We hung in around 35,000 records a week for almost a year. That’s what took it to double-platinum and eventually close to triple-platinum. Those singles kept it floating. “Father of Mine” around Christmas time of 1998, got the record to sell 99,800 records in one week. That was a year after it was released and almost unheard of.
What also made So Much For the Afterglow so unique was that it was exploratory song-wise — whether it was atmospheric sounds or using different instruments, it seemed like you challenged yourselves to try new things.
Well, that was me. One of the things I’ve never wanted to do was make the same record twice. The goal on each record is to make something that sounds different, but also sound like Everclear. It’s been a natural progression. I never wanted a better sounding Sparkle and Fade. I had huge, ambitious ideas this time around. Initially, half the record was going to be really hard and the other half was going to be really soft. I was going to call it Pure White Evil. I mixed the record and played it for my A&R guy at Capitol. His response was, “It’s a good record, but it’s not great. You want a great record for your career. Frankly, Arthur, you can do better. I know you have it in you to take this and make it better.” It was crushing. Even though I had grown up in failure, I hadn’t had failure in a couple years. It kicked my butt a little bit. I think that’s healthy from time-to-time because it helps you learn how to get back up again. And that’s what I did. I went through all the instrumentation and production, added more stuff, threw some stuff out, took songs out, wrote new songs and had a vision. Finally, I had one of those moments where I realized it was right. I called all of the guys in the band, management and the A&R guy at the label and told them exactly what we are going to do with it. I told them I will be sending them all notes. It’s coming down the pike and let’s get going. We spent the next six months doing that, then three months later the record came out. Looking back at it now, I wouldn’t change a thing.
You have a very passionate fan base. Your songs are personal and have a true human element to them and in turn, they end up meaning a lot to your fans. How would you explain the emotional connection between Everclear and your fans?
Our recent show in New York and Irving Plaza is a great example. I saw a ton of people all night, smiling, yelling and sometimes crying. I almost cried during a couple songs that were very personal to me. I sing those songs every night. I get emotional, but not like that. Sometimes there are moments with fans where it is so intimate and intense, that it’s like nothing else. Irving Plaza was one of those shows. It’s hard to explain what happens there. I write songs that seem very personal and often they are. I write from the first person and I write about things that many people back in the 90’s were not writing about. I was writing stories from a certain perspective. Even as dark as some of them get, there’s always a person there somewhere. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. I think that’s helped define me as a writer and Everclear as a band. That’s the kind of music I want to listen to.
What’s on tap for you after this tour?
I’m already writing songs. I am going to start working on a solo record this summer and fall. We also have an Australian tour in the fall and a couple of dates in Japan. It’s a busy year.
All photos by Eric Riley ~ Everclear live at the House of Blues Boston 6/7/17
For tour dates visit: EverclearMusic.com
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In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra
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