EVERCLEAR BACK ON THE ROAD
Twenty years ago, Art Alexakis and his band mates in Everclear were players on the national scene, thanks to their album "Sparkle and Fade" and hit single "Santa Monica."
But the success drove Alexakis. He heard the talk of Everclear being a one-hit wonder type, not destined for longevity. It motivated him, and his inner drive served as the basis for the excellence achieved with "So Much For The Afterglow."
"We just believed that we were on a mission to make a great record," Alexakis has said.
"Afterglow" came out, won widespread acclaim and many honors. Twenty years later, Everclear, still going strong thanks to the work of Alexakis and others, will be touring and playing the album in its entirety. The Portland band started with some gigs in Florida, and then will officially kick off the tour Thursday, May 11, at the Crystal Ballroom.
In 1997 when the record came out, "I thought it was the best record I could make. I put my heart and soul into it," Alexakis says. "I learned through sobriety that you can only push yourself so far, and you gotta live with it. There's some flaws to it, but we wouldn't change anything. I love it."
The album produced the singles "Everything to Everyone" and "I Will Buy You a New Life," and the third single, "Father of Mine" (about estrangement and abandonment by Alexakis' father), hit it big. Later, "El Distorto de Melodica" garnered Everclear its only Grammy Awards nomination, for Best Rock Instrumental in 1998. Everclear won Billboard's Modern Rock Band of the Year Award in '98.
Other significant songs from the album: The title song, "Like a California King," "One Hit Wonder" (for obvious reasons), "Why I Don't Believe in God" (an emotional song about his mother), and "Sunflowers" ("makes me cry every time I hear it.").
"From my perspective, the album told stories of an American life that had gone through ups and downs and still wasn't 100 percent," Alexakis has said. "I still had to deal with issues like parental abandonment, poverty, abuse and drugs. But even though those things are there, there's still a light at the end of the tunnel, though it's hard to see sometimes, and even though the record's dark and heavy at times, it conveys a sense of hope."
Everclear got its start in the early 1990s, making its first album, "World of Noise," for $400 and then self-promoting the thing. An appearance at South by Southwest and signing with Capitol Records preceded "Sparkle and Fade." The label signed the band even before Alexakis wrote "Santa Monica." Says Alexakis: "We had Capitol behind us, felt like we had a real motor in the car."
Then came "Afterglow." Credited with influencing a generation of musicians that followed, "Afterglow" was heralded for its melody, rhythm energy, lyrics (often autobiographical) and guitar work, drawing plenty of attention from MTV and alternative rock radio.
As the story goes, Alexakis and the band made the record for Capitol — tentatively called "Pure White Evil" — and then Perry Watts-Russell, the label's artists and repertoire (A&R) man, told Alexakis that it could be better. Alexakis spent much time contemplating the critique, and songs were dropped and songs were added.
"This album was a big deal for me because it's the first time we had a really big budget," Alexakis says. "I was just very confident. I was ready to make that record."
It'll be fun to play all the songs on "Afterglow" at each stop on tour.
"What's fun is playing the songs that we haven't played in a long time," Alexakis says.
A third record for Capitol, "American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile," followed and also found success.
The band members have changed in 20 years, other than Alexakis, a married father of two who admits that his "addictive" personality — which once led to damaging behavior — helps keep him going.
"I never got the memo that I was supposed to stop," he says. "If I did, I didn't pay attention to it. This is what I love to do.
"We had a time when we were really big, made an impact. Now we're making an impact for a smaller amount of people and we still do that and it's still fun."
Guitarist Davey French and bass player Freddy Herrera have been with Alexakis for more than 10 years. Jake Margolis plays drums.
Alexakis takes pride in maintaining consistency through the years.
He has other responsibilities — a satellite radio show, a mentor/teaching position in Los Angeles, putting together the Summerland Tour for 1990s alt-rock bands and, of course, a family. Everclear has nine albums and counting, the latest "Black Is The New Black," via the End Records/ADA from 2015.
"I don't think anything good is easy," he says. "I just work very hard. I'm my own worst critic, as an artist should be."
Everclear will be joined by Vertical Horizon and Fastball on tour. Their local show will be 7 p.m. Thursday, May 11, at the Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside. Tickets are $37.50, and $42 day of show. For more: www.crystalballroompdx.com.