Any student that has influential older siblings or a youthful affinity for music should remember Everclear, the band that dominated the ’90s alternative rock scene with hits like “Father of Mine” and “Santa Monica.”
But those who can remember Everclear’s success might also question what happened to the band that was once a regular name on popular radio stations and MTV. Much of the band’s fame seemed to silently fade away during the early 2000s as it was dropped from Capitol Records, and its loud, guitar-driven style of alternative rock began to lose popularity.
Now, the band is attempting a resurgence. As the only remaining original member, lead singer Art Alexakis recently hired a new backing band, recorded an album and ventured on a three-week tour throughout the United States to reconnect with an otherwise lost audience, stopping to play The Roxy in West Hollywood Thursday night — the band’s first performance at the venue since 1998.
Although Everclear has significantly declined in popularity during the past decade, Alexakis is unfazed.
“[Popularity] is nice because it helps pay the bills,” Alexakis said, before bluntly adding, “But I don’t really give a shit.”
Indifference to popularity is often seen among struggling and successful artists, but Alexakis genuinely means it.
He’s not uncomfortable with discussing his future.
“If it gets to the point where I have to do something else, I’ll do it with absolutely no unhappiness whatsoever,” he said.
Alexakis certainly has the credentials and talent to succeed outside of Everclear, as he briefly attended UCLA’s film school and continues to work as a writer, director and actor in the film industry.
Still, he has numerous passions outside the music industry.
“I want to finish my psychology degree and become a therapist someday,” he said.
Even though Alexakis is modest about his future, it became apparent as soon as Everclear began its concert Thursday night that he was exactly where he belongs: on stage. The band began its set with a noisy, driving song, “So Much for the Afterglow,” from its 1997 album of the same name.
Alexakis commanded the stage with high energy, an energy that didn’t fade throughout the band’s hour-and-a-half set. The club was fairly crowded, with a diverse audience ranging from younger fans to middle-aged people like Alexakis himself.
“It’s interesting to see a lot of people in their teens and early 20s, people in their late 20s and early 30s who were in college when we came up, and then older people at our shows. It’s an interesting cross section,” Alexakis said before the show.
His sentiments rang true during the set, as fans both young and old cheered loudly and sang along with the band’s hits.
Despite the wide range of supporters for Everclear, the band’s new album is a disappointment.
In a Different Light, released on the independent 429 Records in early October, features only two new songs: “At the End of the Day” and “Here Comes the Darkness.” Neither has earned significant radio time nor any other measurable form of success. The rest of the album features only stripped-down, acoustic versions of past hits such as “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Everything to Everyone” that sound like cheap imitations of the original recordings.
Alexakis, speaking before his concert on Thursday, was quick to defend the album.
“I just wanted to document the way those songs have evolved over the years, and I had a lot of fans ask for us to go on a more acoustic route,” Alexakis said.
This may be the case, but the record has thus far failed to be as successful as the band’s previous albums.
Though In a Different Light provides softer, acoustic versions of the band’s well-known songs, the live show consisted of the hard-hitting guitars reminiscent of the band’s earlier years.
“We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, man,” Alexakis said. “The guitars are there; we’re loud.”
The band followed through with this statement, playing piercing, electric guitar-driven versions of its hits throughout the set, as well as less popular songs from earlier albums such as Sparkle and Fade, which the crowd seemed to know just as well as the hits.
The four new members of the band, hired only months ago, seemed well-integrated and comfortable performing older songs. They leaned on Alexakis for support during jams, shared the microphone with the lead singer during choruses and took center stage during solos.
“We’re really lucky to get to play with [Art],” bassist Freddy Herrera said on stage.
But the new members weren’t the only people in Everclear that appeared lucky to be onstage. During the beginning of “At The End of the Day,” one of the new songs from In a Different Light, the entire band chanted “We will be together” over and over again, and the grin on Alexakis’s face made it seem as if that’s what he truly wanted.
Midway through the set, the band played “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom,” a song in which Alexakis sings lyrics such as I used to be a bad girl/ I used to be a real wild child/ but now I am a Volvo-driving soccer mom. Despite the gender-specific and fictional nature of the lyrics, the song has obvious autobiographical echoes.
“Most of the time I like to spend with my family,” Alexakis said. “I don’t tour as much as I used to.”
This might explain the relative lack of success attained by the new formation of Everclear, as Alexakis is simply taking his life slowly, enjoying himself and making sure he is able to raise his daughters differently than he was raised.
He referenced this desire to provide a better upbringing for his daughters from the stage.
“This song goes out to anyone who’s a better parent than their parents were to them,” he said before playing “Father of Mine,” a song about his father’s abandonment.
Although Everclear’s success has rapidly declined since the band’s peak in the mid-’90s, Alexakis seems content with his life.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Alexakis said. “I’ve achieved and exceeded every goal I’ve ever had.”
Alexakis may have slowed down since the band’s peak, but his commanding stage presence demonstrates that he has by no means become a complete “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom.”
As the band closed its set with a joyful crowd sing-along of “I Will Buy You a New Life,” it became apparent that Alexakis hasn’t given up on Everclear, and neither have his fans.