Art Alexakis is Everclear.
Sure, there are several other talented musicians who have contributed greatly to the band’s global success. But front man –guitarist, songwriter and remaining original member of the band–Alexakis is the creative force whose artistic talent and obsessive drive to succeed skyrocketed the band out of Portland, Oregon oblivion and into worldwide, alternative grunge-punk superstardom.
Alexakis and his childhood angst, that is.
It’s hard to find a published article about Everclear that doesn’t reference Alexakis’ runaway father, low-income upbringing or teenaged cocaine addiction. Apparently, Alexakis writes such good songs because he’s had it rough.
He hasn’t exactly had such a smooth adulthood, either. Professionally, Alexakis had spent years forming bands that failed to find a following before finally hitting the mark in the grunge era of the early nineties with this three-piece rock group that included bass guitarist Craig Montoya and drummer Scott Cuthbert, who was replaced two short years later by Greg Eklund. But just sounding good wasn’t going to be enough in the cut throat music industry, so perfectionist Alexakis pushed his band to tour and record relentlessly until finally getting recognition for their second album, Sparkle and Fade.
“Santa Monica,” a single from that 1994 album, was the first song to resonate with a widespread alternative audience and is still one of the most popular Everclear songs that has been released.
On the heels of that hit album Everclear released So Much for the Afterglow in 1996 that met the mark with the confessional, daddy-hating ballad “Father of Mine” and the love song/bitch session “I Will Buy You a New Life” about the perils of coming in to new money.
Those two albums and a third, Songs From an American Movie, Volume 1: Learning How to Smile went platinum as Everclear’s slow burn success ignited. The catchy, reflective “Wonderful” from that album has been arguable the most successful song the band put out. But just when it seemed like the band was on their way to stardom, it all came to a screeching halt. After one more album in 2003, Montoya and Eklund left the band due to personality conflicts, and for a short time Alexakis went solo.
Now a new Everclear is touring with a fresh lineup that includes bassist Sam Hudson, guitarist Dave French, keyboardist Josh Crawley and Brett Snyder on drums. Front man and mastermind Alexakis is still at the helm writing memorable songs and pushing for publicity.
The latest album is a collection of revamped classic rock cover songs, a big deviation from their standard original releases. The Vegas Years is a fun album that showcases the diversity of this new group of musicians and the potential for the band to continue attracting a mainstream audience.
With a force like Alexakis’ drive to succeed, Everclear isn’t likely going away anytime soon. MTW