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
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."