The Road To Summerland:
Red Blooded Rock ‘N’ Roll with Art Alexakis of Everclear
Words by Audra Tracy
All across America, the recent resurgence of 90s alt-rock bands has found everyone from Bush to Smashing Pumpkins to Faith No More touring in 2015. More and more, fans are buying tickets and taking a nostalgic ride back to the days before the digital age swallowed us whole — which begs the question — is there a void in today’s mainstream rock scene that has us all longing for the past?
Everclear is certainly doing its part to carry red-blooded rock ‘n’ roll into the future without sacrificing style. In April they released their ninth album, Black Is The New Black, which is one of their hardest records yet. This month they are hitting the road for the fourth annual Summerland Tour, making local stops at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey on June 21st and New York’s Irving Plaza on June 23rd.
Founded by frontman Art Alexakis, this year’s traveling road show also features supporting acts Toadies, Fuel, and American HiFi. We caught up with the ever-charismatic Alexakis to get his take on the new record, his criteria for booking Summerland bands, and the current state of American rock music.
“Lately there’s a lot of metal, and a lot of pop music, and there’s a lot of people out there pushing on space bars and calling it music,” Alexakis jabs. “There’s different things out there, but an old school rock ‘n’ roll band, it’s becoming kind of a dinosaur. I don’t know if we’re Jurassic age, but …” he laughs.
“That’s why I do the Summerland Tour,” he explains. “You have to be a rock band, that’s my criteria. You gotta be a band that tours and puts out albums. I don’t want guys who just sit around playing golf, waiting for their [sic] royalty checks, and go out once a year to play the hits.”
Past acts to join Everclear on the Summerland Tour have included Soul Asylum, Eve 6, Space Hog, Gin Blossoms, Lit, Sugar Ray, Marcy Playground, Live, Filter, and Sponge. But no matter who is on the roster, Summerland has always been about playing for the love of music.
“No one is getting rich off this,” Alexakis shares. “I keep the ticket prices low. There’s four platinum bands with a bunch of songs for like 25-30 bucks.”
This summer, Everclear fans can expect to hear a few of those chart-toppers, from “I Will Buy You A New Life” to “Wonderful” and beyond. They’ll also get a taste of a few new tunes from Black Is The New Black – an album born for the stage.
“It’s a rocker of an album,” Alexakis says. “The whole idea going into it was to make a record that would be fun to play. I’m really fired up about guitars again, so I wrote a lot of songs on this record on electric guitar, just for the feel of it. It just felt more like something I could play live.”
“I’m just really proud of it,” he continues. “The cringe factor is very low. Anything you do, you are going to look back and say, ‘why did I do that?’ That’s impossible not to do if you are aware, and honest, and present. And you should do that, it’s a good thing. You’re evolving; you’re moving.”
There is no doubt that Alexakis has evolved as an artist since the release of Everclear’s breakthrough 1995 album, Sparkle and Fade. So, twenty years later, what advice would he give to his younger self? The question seems to sweep him right back to the golden age of 90’s angst.
“Younger men are just a pain in the ass,” Alexakis sighs. “I tell women all the time — men under 30 are just useless. I’m a guy who’s been married four times. I know this — I’ve seen behind the curtain.”
Notably side-tracked by my reaction to his brilliant revelation, he pauses, and asks, “Wait, what was your question again?”
I ask once more.
“Oh, right,” he laughs. “Just relax and have fun. Enjoy the ride.”
TheWaster.com | Summerland