"An Interview With Art Alexakis, Lead Singer of Everclear"
Are you excited about performing at Fall Fest?
Yeah, it's going to be a load of fun. I love Buffalo. I love Upstate New York.
How do you feel about opening up for 3 Doors Down?
I don't mind. I don't really feel like we're opening up - we're getting to play our whole set. I've never played with them before but I've heard they're really nice guys.
Have you performed at a lot of universities in the past?
Yeah, we do this every fall. Whenever we're touring, we do fall dates ... not really a tour per se, but we do a lot of fall shows at colleges.
What do you like or dislike about performing at schools?
The only thing I dislike is that it's usually in a funny setting. It looks like you're planning some kind of sock-hop or school dance because it's in a gymnasium ... other than that, it's usually not just the kids from the school ... people from the outside buy tickets. [Students] are usually pretty enthusiastic ... people are pretty excited.
What's your favorite thing about performing live?
Actually performing. Getting in front of people and playing rock 'n' roll, I mean, that's what's fun, that's why we got into this in the first place. No offense, it wasn't to do interviews or talk about ourselves, one of my least favorite things to do in the world. We're not partiers who chase girls so it's not that aspect. We're here to play the music and connect. My favorite thing about performing live is seeing people singing my lyrics.
When you say you don't like talking about yourself, a lot of your music is very personal.
I know it seems personal, but it is not personal. I keep saying that and people don't listen to me. There are a few songs that are autobiographical, like "Father of Mine," and I think that's where people get the idea from.
What would you say makes Everclear unique from a lot of the other hard rock or alternative bands that are out right now?
I like to think that we write songs that are more stories ... hopefully people will enjoy the music on its own but there's usually a pretty good story there ... I think the reason a lot people think that [my songs] are autobiographical is because I sing from the first person and people don't know me, so they're figuring, "Oh, this guy's talking about himself!" But I just like to talk in the first person.
I think [the first person] touches people more that way, even though it might not be personal to you ... I think people who relate to it more touched by it.
Absolutely. It's definitely personal thoughts but there's a difference between talking about something that's important to me, that's personal, that's a story that I make up ... there's a difference between that and telling a tale that happened to me. All of my lyrics are very important to me.
I know you've probably been asked this question a million times, but how does Everclear manage to keep momentum in a period of teen pop and younger audiences?
Wow, that's a good question ... I don't know! We kinda get a bigger and bigger following with each album even though we're really not in style right now. Like you said, on one side you have teen pop and on the other you've got rap-metal and we're nothing like any of that. We're just a rock 'n' roll band. Unfortunately, the alternative right now is rock 'n' roll. That doesn't put us so far out on the scale, we're not gonna scare anyone's mom putting on face paint or masks or something like that. We have parents and kids that get into our music ... it's kinda cool to see people come out and bring their kids to shows.
Is your audience younger than what it used to be?
It's just wider. It used to be just alternative kids in their twenties and it's slowly gotten into the teens and slowly gotten into the thirties and now it's people in their forties and their teens. When bands start selling a whole lot of records, more than we've ever sold, like three or four million records an album, like No Doubt or something, that's when you're selling records to ten-year olds. We've never had that huge pop song that that's all kids know is that one song ... and that's fine with me. If that's the trade-off is selling less records, that's fine with me because we're plenty successful. I'm very happy ... we're incredibly blessed and fortunate to have had the success that we've had and it's still at a manageable level.
Is it pretty much that you don't want to make music that's more fashionable to sell more records?
I don't really pay attention to what's going on right now or listen to a whole lot of modern music. I just make music that's interesting to us so we can move forward in our own ways ... and evolve and get a little bit more twisted every year.
Do you have a more loyal following because of that?
Absolutely, I think it's people who buy into the band and buy into my songs ... there's a lot of kids that I meet and talk to who say Everclear is their favorite band because of the fact that we don't sound like all these other bands and we don't make records that sound the same from record to record ... and that's exciting for me. When I was a kid, that's what I wanted to hear and I would get frustrated with bands that would make a record that sounded just like their last record.
Well, you said that you like the Beatles and there's a big difference between "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds."
Absolutely ... but they're both valid, they're both good stuff ... I'm more partial to the later stuff ... they started opening up and between them and Beach Boys and the Stones they started getting very competitive about who was going farther out and pushing the envelope a little bit more. Even within that context between "Revolver" and "Sergeant Pepper's Magical Mystery Tour" ... there's huge differences and different levels of maturing and just going to different places ... and that's the thing I always love. I say the Beatles have always been an influence and people go "well, you don't sound like the Beatles." You don't have to sound like someone to be influenced by them! I think our next record is going to be our best record. It's going to be hard and weird and accessible and all those good things ... but we're working to find our own sense of melodicism and what works for us.
Did the stress of making two albums in one year cause any stress between you and your band mates?
No, not per se, but we definitely agreed that we won't do that again. It was a lot of work and it left us feeling pretty drained. Those guys go out and do their thing and then they split and go out and do vocals and they come in and add vocals, so they're not in the studio all the time when I am.
How would you describe the chemistry between you and your band mates when you're performing?
On the record, Craig [Montoya] likes to say, "Art makes the songs and we make them sound good." I think that's pretty accurate. They're a great band. Live, we just have a lot of fun. We've been playing for a long time together. Me and Craig have been playing together since ... way back in the nineties.
Way back in the nineties ... isn't it weird saying that?
We're living in the turn of the century ... when I was a kid and thought about people living in the turn of the century I thought of all these old people with no teeth.
For the last question, what has been your most memorable performance to date and why?
I'll give you one. London, October last year, we did a show at this place called the London Astoria ... I think they pushed about 2,500 people in there. We've always had some good shows in London ... but this show was just out of control. There were huge fans ... it was just a kind of excitement that maybe happens four or five times in our career. It was just a rare night where everything fit and it was perfect.