Everclear: 180 Proof

Jan. 5, 1996 -- The Portland trio Everclear had the endorsement of tour mate Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, who said that Everclear really sounded like his old band, Nirvana. This wasn't quite right. What Grohl actually said was that, while critics keep insisting that Everclear sounds like Nirvana, Grohl doesn't think so. We've kicked an intern for this infraction and can now in good conscience bring you the band that sounds nothing like Nirvana although it sounds pretty good anyway. Everclear.

ART ALEXAKIS, Everclear: Everclear's this pure.... It's like 180 proof alcohol. It's another name for moonshine, basically. And it looks so innocuous and innocent. It looks like water. But it's pure evil. It's a lot like us. I think we look pretty white bread... not white bread, but pretty innocent, you know. We don't come off with a whole lot of rock and roll attitude. Until we get money, and then we'll be able to afford it.

MTV: Born three and a half years ago in Portland, Oregon,

Everclear's major label debut "Sparkle and Fade" is a hard edged mix of pop, roots rock and punk, packaged with family photo style artwork.

GREG EKLUND, Everclear: (pointing at CD cover) This is my one year old birthday party, and this is...

ALEXAKIS: It's cake...

EKLUND: Chocolate cake, OK? Not what people tend to think it is. It's cake. They set down this chocolate cake in front of me and this other one-year old girl and I was slightly sick that day so I just kind of sat there and she just threw it at me.

ALEXAKIS: You look pretty happy though...

EKLUND: Nah. Actually if you look my eyes are all teary and puffy and...

ALEXAKIS: Are you crying?

EKLUND: I'd been crying, yeah.

ALEXAKIS: (To Craig Montoya) How old are you here? Six?

CRAIG MONTOYA, Everclear: That's my first grade picture. Six years old.

ALEXAKIS: (Pointing at his picture) And this is back before they called it day care or preschool. This was called

nursery school. And I was 4. And I had my new suit on and this little girl goes up to my mom and says "Arthur's so handsome; he looks like he's married!"

MTV: But things weren't always so picturesque, especially for front man Art Alexakis, whose brother died of a drug overdose when the singer was twelve. Alexakis himself, now sober, spent years using drugs. His world was rocked again in 1991 when he lost the record label he'd been running in California after his distributor went under.

ALEXAKIS: That happened, my girlfriend got pregnant, my band broke up, all in the period of the same month. It was a really hard time for me. So when I moved to Portland, it wasn't the happiest time in my life. But it's sure become a good home... for all of us I think.

MTV: Everclear shared its current good fortune with fans by playing several free shows this year. One on the beach in Santa Monica, and two at Alexakis's daughter's day care center. Which turned out to be the most intimidating

gig to date.

ALEXAKIS: First it was the preschoolers, four and five year olds, and they're playing... and they're, like, sitting there, and we play a song. Then the next one, they bring in the toddlers. OK, that's the next thing down. Right? Toddlers. Two and three-year olds. And then they bring in the wobblers on the last song. And then we look up at the last song and they've got kids in their cribs, the infants. And the preschoolers went crazy...

EKLUND: There was a pit. It was pandemonium. Barricades were broken. Stage diving.

MONTOYA: It changed the feel of our lyrics.

ALEXAKIS: We couldn't do "You Make Me Feel Like a Whore." It wasn't appropriate. So we wanted to write something that, you know, a three-year old in preschool could relate to. So we changed it to 'You Make Me Feel Like I'm Four."