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Exposure: In the 'Clear
Punk trio Everclear can back up its bold ambition
SPIN Magazine, September 1995

By Michael Azerrad

Art Alexakis says all the right things. In a cushy, white conference room in Capitol Record's midtown Manhattan offices, Everclear's frontman utters such statements as "The new record is the one I've always wanted to make," and, "We're in it for the music," and declares, "I don't buy my hype."

Luckily, Everclear recycles the familiar better than Alexakis does. Although the band's second album, Sparkle and Fade, flirts dangerously with generic post-Nirvana alt-rock, it's redeemed by solid songwriting, a refreshing country streak, and a fierce attack courtesy of bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund. But like Alexakis' interview style, it's a bit studied, its rough edges buffed to a radio-ready shine by noted pop mixer Brian Malouf. The plan worked though, and having conquered the college charts, Sparkle and Fade appears poised for even greater glory.

For Alexakis, 33, it's been a long, hard climb. He grew up in a Los Angeles housing project; he started shooting every drug in the book when he was 13 and didn't stop until he was 23. Now he won't even

touch coffee or cigarettes, but ten years after, drugs still loom large in his music, starting with the album's autobiographical first single, the abrasively catchy "Heroin Girl". "I think I'm just dealing with it," Alexakis says. "This new record deals with a lot of things that were unresolved."

Alexakis, a savvy businessman who's been kicking around the indie world for years, produced Sparkle and Fade. He's unabashedly ambitious, which might explain his dodgy rep in the band's homebase of Portland, Oregon. "If you've got what he needs, he's your buddy," says some punk scenester who refuses to be identified. "After that, you're a spent Dixie cup."

Alexakis chalks it all up to jealousy over the band's big-bucks signing and the xenophobia of the Portland scene. "I don't take shit from people," he adds. "If people fuck me over more than once, I don't do business with those people anymore." But doesn't Alexakis worry about his indie cred? "What is indie cred?" he asks, looking a bit uncomfortable at a crowded record release party. "There's just as much credibility as an artist, meaning that you don't have to cave in to anybody and you don't kiss anybody's ass."