With “The Vegas Years,” The Band is Back on Top
By Jillian Locke
Art Alexakis loves where he lives. He loves his five month old daughter and teenage college-bound daughter. He loves the music that he makes. Art Alexakis loves life. This is the kind of dialogue that resonated throughout our phone interview ~ so much so that when Art’s publicist broke into the 20 minute conversation to tell us to wrap it up, I hadn’t even asked him any questions yet. Art has a lot to say about a lot of things,
and the overriding sense I got from him is that this guy has lived, this guy has learned, and this guy is making the most of his experiences and his passion.
The latest installment in Everclear’s extensive career is The Vegas Years, a compilation of 15 cover songs the band has recorded since 1997.
“We had recorded lots of cover songs, about 25 – 26 covers. I picked these songs because they sounded like Everclear songs. The songs connected with me,” Alexakis recollects.
And he’s absolutely right. The chosen covers could very well be Everclear songs with their catchy riffs, steady pop beats, and melodies that lodge themselves deep into the darkest corners of the mind. Along with guitarist Dave French, drummer Brett Snyder, bassist Sam Hudson, and keyboardist Josh Crawley, Alexakis has selected a varying range of tracks that include the Go-Go’s’ “Our Lips Are Sealed,” Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl,” a live version of Tommy Tutone’s “Jenny,” Cheap Trick’s “Southern Girls,” Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town,” and Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” which the band recorded for a Tom Petty tribute album in 1994. Everclear covers the wide-ranging spectrum of pop and rock to gather solid hits that would never, under any other circumstances, be on the same album. But it works.
Maybe the reason Everclear has had such staying power in a constantly changing pop-rock world is their distinctive sound, accentuated by Alexakis’s very distinct voice. And that unique Everclear brand rings loud and true through each and every cover.
“It’s just my take on things,” Alexakis explains. “I have a distinctive voice and a distinctive way of interpreting songs. If I try singing like the vocalist does, it’s not as believable. I like to sit down and close my eyes and listen.”
Even over the phone, Art Alexakis has a very calm, almost meditative kind of air to him. You can almost picture him sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, ears wide open, listening for the true element of the songs.
“The song writing process starts with a very primeval thing…you need to be coming from somewhere inside you. My songs aren’t autobiographical. I like story telling. I write stories.”
What Alexakis writes has kept Everclear a household name for the past decade. Clearly, the stories he writes and the ideas and elements he interprets resonate with more than just a few fans. And it’s this exact reason why Everclear can present the quirkiest collection of covers, ever, and make it work.
Playing an average of 50 – 60 shows each year, Everclear is now in the middle of their summer tour ~ and show no signs of slowing. Check out snippets from The Vegas Years on www.myspace.com/everclear, and check www.everclearonline.com for updates! And to enter the Everclear Vegas Years contest to win the new Everclear album along with their entire catalogue (8 CDs total), head to sideways-media.com/contest/public/?contestId=14