Everclear does some living between CDs

Frontman Art Alexakis says six-year gap was beneficial




If you go

• What: Couvapalooza, a rock festival to support music programs in Clark County schools.

• When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17.

• Where: Outdoors at Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.

• Cost: $25 at the gate, $15 with a military ID, kids younger than 12 free with a paying adult. Monitored parking available at Clark College's Red Lot accessed from Fort Vancouver Way for $3.

• Info: Couvapalooza.com

Going six years between studio albums, as Everclear did before releasing "Invisible Stars," would be seen as a bad move in a business that values a steady stream of new music into the market.

But Everclear's singer/guitarist/songwriter Art Alexakis didn't let that notion rush the album. For him, there were more important issues that needed to determine when "Invisible Stars" would be ready.

"I waited about six years between albums because I was just waiting until I was ready to make a record," Alexakis said in a recent phone interview. "I think a lot of bands get stuck up in the cycle of writing a record, producing a record and recording a record and then going out and playing the record live. Then they go right back into the writing process. And they don't ever give themselves time to live some life and process it before they write. Not that you're necessarily going to write about the life you live, but it gives you time to process as a human being and make connections that are like, 'Oh, this reminds me of this and this and this.' And 'Oh wow, now I've got an idea for a song, and I've got to get that out of me.' That's when it becomes intrinsic and just natural without trying to force it. I think bands that get into the cycles of producing, not albums or songs, but product … I think it lessens the whole thing."

Alexakis has certainly done lots of living over the course of his musical career, going through his share of ups and downs both professionally and personally.

In its first decade together, Everclear enjoyed a string of three albums that each sold more than a million copies, "Sparkle and Fade," "So Much for the Afterglow" (1996) and 2000's "Songs from an American Movie, Vol. 1: Learning How to Smile." Those albums gave the band nine rock radio hits, including the chart-toppers "Father Of Mine" and "Wonderful."

But in 2003, he jettisoned the other two longtime members of Everclear, bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund, and formed the five-man lineup — Sam Hudson (bass), Dave French (guitar), Brett Snyder (drums) and Josh Crawley (keyboards) — that recorded the 2006 album, "Welcome To The Drama Club."

That album reflected the turmoil in Alexakis' life, as it came in the aftermath of a divorce from his third wife, bankruptcy and the death of his mother. The singer/guitarist frequently began taking himself to task for his shortcomings.

That lineup was then revamped in 2009, with Alexakis and French joined by bassist Freddy Herrera, drummer Sean Winchester and keyboardist Sasha Smith (who left the group in 2011 and was replaced by the returning Crawley). Those six musicians recorded "Invisible Stars," which was released last year.

"Invisible Stars" is a solid album, featuring Everclear's familiar guitar-based mix of punk, pop and grunge. Its mood — far more upbeat than on "Welcome To The Drama Club" — reflected the positive turns in Alexakis' life, including a new marriage and more settled band situation.

"I think that's what I was trying to communicate with that record," he said. "It's just like being able to keep track of who you are through all of the different changes that life puts you through, I think that that's the battle. If you can do that and still laugh at the end of it all, then you live. Everybody lives. This isn't a contest. If anything, you're fighting life and winning. That's what I feel I'm doing."

"Invisible Stars" hasn't delivered radio hits for Everclear, but the band has had enough success over its history to ensure that it will have a large enough following to be a viable touring band for some time to come.

Everclear's current run of headlining shows comes after the band completed the second edition of the Summerland tour, an outing Alexakis hopes will be an annual summer tour.

In addition to Everclear as a headliner, this summer, the tour also featured Live, Filter and Sponge. That lineup fit Alexakis' concept for the tour, which is to bring together a group of rocking bands that started in the '90s, had multiple hits during that decade, but continue to tour and record now.

The sets by the four bands on Summerland were short. Even as the headliner, Everclear only played about 45 minutes. Its sets on the new tour figure to be longer, which means in addition to playing such hits as "Santa Monica," "Father Of Mine" and "Wonderful," the band will be able to play songs from "Invisible Stars," other album tracks and maybe even spring a surprise or two.

"We're breaking out some songs that we haven't played in years, one guitar/bass song," Alexakis said. "We're going to play a couple of new songs."