Everclear's Art Alexakis has a Zen-like way of dealing with the pressures of
fame heaped on his shoulders and those of his partners-in-crime, bassist Craig
Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund, in light of the unexpected success of their
last album, Sparkle and Fade. "Don't give a shit," Alexakis told ATN
last Friday (March 7). "I've got a platinum record and I wasn't trying for
Alexakis was answering the question because Everclear are in the
midst of sessions for their follow-up record, which they've been recording,
on-and-off, since November of 1996. "We're just a rock band making records," he
said. "It's not hip, it's not cutting edge and we'll just keep doing it as long
as they let us."
The record they've been assembling, Pure White
Evil (due out in September), has been emerging in fits and starts. Some
sessions were tracked last November, when Alexakis says they "recorded a bunch
of songs that we thought would be most of the new album," which were then mixed
in February of this year.
But by then Alexakis, who writes all the music
and lyrics for the band, had written seven new songs, so the group headed back
into the studio for more work. Alexakis figures that by the time the sessions
are done, Everclear will have tracked 27 songs, more than enough for the
13-track album they expect to release in the fall. "I'd love to do a b-sides
record," said Alexakis about the extra material, "because some of it just
didn't fit on this record and it would be fun to do some covers. I like to fuck
up other people's songs."
Alexakis said he started writing songs for the new album
in early 1996, with the expectation that the band would get into the studio in
May of that year to lay down tracks. But then the unexpected happened. "The
success of Sparkle and Fade dictated that we tour, so I just started
writing and we just really literally haven't had the time to get in the studio
Alexakis was very guarded about releasing any song titles,
offering only two names of tunes that might potentially make the cut, "Otis
Redding" and "Everything to Everyone."
The outspoken singer also said the
past year and half, in which the band graduated form playing small clubs to
1,000-plus seat halls, has been one surprise after another, including the most
surreal experience of all, meeting President Clinton. "I met President Clinton
and Vice President Gore at a Democratic fund-raiser," said Alexakis. "I do a
lot of work for the Oregon Democratic party and I went to this brunch where the
President spoke and one of the organizers asked me if I wanted to meet him. I
stood in line like everyone else and I shook his hand. It was pretty cool man.
I mean, the President of the United States!"
Asked why he thought
Sparkle and Fade connected with the audience so successfully, Alexakis
chalks it up to a number of things, but mostly his intensely-personal lyrics.
"People really lock into our lyrics, my lyrics. I think people appreciate them
and really, it's just rock 'n' roll. I grew up digging people like John Hiatt
and John Prine, James Taylor, the singer/songwriters and I think that's where I
still draw inspiration. At the same time, I was into Led Zeppelin and when punk
hit, Elvis Costello and the Sex Pistols, so I've always dug that combination:
decent songs with good content that rock. We just play the kinds of things that
sound good to us."