Living with the afterglow

Fifteen years after success, Everclear front man Art Alexakis is still just as excited about being in a rock band.

The band will be playing a benefit concert this Saturday at Epic.

Photo courtesy Everclear

The band will be playing a benefit concert this Saturday at Epic.

Andrew Penkalski

WHAT: Everclear (Hope Rocks — A Faith’s Lodge Benefit Concert)

WHEN: Sept. 25, 8:45 p.m.

WHERE: Epic, 110 Fifth St. N.

COST: $250

 

Ten years out, the ’90s are now witnessing cohesion in character. It naturally takes a bit of time for the trends and eccentricities of any decade to solidify as identifiable popular culture. As the artistic dust settles, many key players in a given era always devolve into timely memories of how it was “back then.” For most 20-somethings in America, this is a probable case for radio-rock staple Everclear.

Front man Art Alexakis offers a rather warm reception to notions of Everclear’s inescapable ’90s legacy. However, he is in no way succumbing to it just yet.

It always has been, after all, his entity to direct. Functioning from the get-go as the band’s lead guitarist, singer and songwriter, it’s always been inarguable that Everclear is Alexakis’ creative venture. He was even able to negotiate substantial authority as their leading producer when they first signed with Capitol Records, something he said other interested labels found off-putting.

“After they heard that’s what I wanted, 90 percent of the labels just went ‘Poof’,” Alexakis said.

However, Capitol’s allowance of this unquestioned control testifies to how the era gave way to success for such a band. With substantial industry conglomeration, bands and labels alike were able to bask in a golden era that would soon be unraveled by file-sharing and digital distribution.

“I thought it was cool, because it just opened the door for more rock ‘n’ roll guitars on the radio,” he said.

But parties involved in pop music now face more trying times. So four years since their last release, which came out on a minor label with a comparatively small $45,000 production cost, how would Alexakis answer that “Whatever happened to …” question on so many people’s minds?

Simply put, he’s been working. Everclear has spent those summer months touring festivals and humbly playing a few state fairs without too much indication of any scorned ego.

“I just refuse to go back to the van,” Alexakis said, “When that happens, I’ll say ‘OK, it’s time to do something else.’”

The group also played a west coast leg of the Van’s Warped Tour on the aptly titled “Legends Stage.” It’s a point of conversation that admirably shows the group leader’s engagement in an event that has largely changed since the festival’s pop punk origins.

“[These bands] look like they grew up watching the Disney Channel,” he said with affection and a bit of a “back in my day” attitude, “But then they sing with these Cookie Monster vocals.”

Aside from the active road schedule, Alexakis has roughly 15 songs prepared for a new record, which he hopes to record sometime this winter. Yet, it doesn’t seem that a mainstream return is a central goal.

“I’m too old and too much of a curmudgeon to start dancing at this point,” he said.

Instrumentally, Alexakis seems to hint at a bit of a return to form in respects to the big guitar sounds of “So Much For The Afterglow“ and “Sparkle And Fade.” While the group will continue to explore their traditional, heavier subject matter, the songwriter promises a divergence from the playful laments like “Father of Mine.”

“I think I do pick up on old themes,” he said, “But I take them to a different place, because I’m in a different place.”

In spite of Alexakis’ best efforts, Everclear may ultimately remain a ’90s afterthought. If that is the case, it does not seem to shake him too intensely.

“I get to do what I love to do,” he said with sincerity. “I get to play in a rock band. How cool is that?”

Considering so many artists remain brutishly in denial whenever the limelight shifts, it is refreshing to see a figure approach the topic in a more level-headed manner. Thus, should Everclear release their swan song down the road, people will be all more welcoming to their return