This week, the Portland, Oregon-based alternative-rock band best known for the hits “Father of Mine” and “Santa Monica” will be returning to Anchorage.
Art Alexakis founded Everclear in the early ’90s, and said he’d wanted to be in a rock band since he was just a few years old. He’d hoped to play drums, but it wasn’t allowed in the housing project where his family lived, and his mother couldn’t afford to buy him a kit anyway. But Alexakis had access to a guitar and his mother bought him four lessons.
“I kept playing and playing, taught myself how to play off of Aerosmith records, Led Zeppelin records. And that year, my mom for Christmas got me a guitar out of a pawn shop for $40.”
After playing the music scenes of Los Angeles and San Francisco, Alexakis moved to Portland with his pregnant girlfriend and put ads in the papers as a last-ditch effort to form a band. He’d already written the songs for what became Everclear’s first album, and soon bass player Craig Montoya and drummer Scott Cuthbert joined his cause (Montoya remained with the band until 2003; Cuthbert left the group in 1994 and was replaced by Greg Eklund).
Everclear recorded their first full album in a neighbor’s basement and named it “World of Noise,” a title inspired by the amount of feedback Alexakis’ amp would make during their recording sessions.
Alexakis didn’t realize Everclear had made it until one Portland gig, when he came out of a venue during a soundcheck and there was a line of about a hundred people out the door.
“I was like, ‘You guys, what’re you guys doing here?’ And they said, ‘We’re here for you guys! Do you guys have T-shirts to sell?’ I go, ‘Yeah we’ll have T-shirts, but this is a bad neighborhood. Come back later, have your folks drop you off here later.’ And they kept saying it was going to sell out. I went in and did soundcheck and came out and there were four times as many people, and this is, like, four hours before the show. And I came back to the show and there was a triple line going around this huge city block to see us. I was like, ‘Oh, this is what that feels like. OK.’ “
Eventually, Everclear signed with Capitol Records, an American label known for signing some of the biggest names in the industry, including The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Nirvana and Queen. The first album released under the record label was “Sparkle and Fade,” featuring “Santa Monica,” one of the band’s biggest hits.
Soon, the band had music videos on MTV and Alexakis received a call from the president of Capitol saying that they’d hit platinum.
Overcome with the news, the first thing Alexakis did was call his mom.
“That was a big deal, for me to be able to take care of my mom. That felt pretty good. I did it by playing rock ‘n’ roll, which is the dream. I’m still living the dream,” said Alexakis, who still writes or co-writes all the songs for the band.
“When I walk onstage, I turn into a different person. I love that transition and I love that feeling of electricity of walking onstage, the sound of the crowd. It’s a buzz. I’ve been sober for almost 27 years and it’s a buzz for me. Something chemical happens when I walk onstage.”
Everclear performed at the Alaska State Fair in 2003 and at Chilkoot Charlie’s in 2010. Alexakis said he loves Alaska crowds and recalls they’re not afraid to get a little rough.
At his 2003 show, “There was this man and woman in the pit, literally it turned into a fistfight, where security came to get them and separated them. Later on, in the show, they’re in the middle of the pit making out, I’m not kidding you. I’m like, ‘These people need cable really bad,’ ” Alexakis said.
“I just love Alaska. I love the people, we get great fans. Last time we were there, it was rowdy, it was so rowdy.”