A conversation with Art Alexakis

Lead singer of multi-platinum rock band Everclear, Alexakis has led one of the most popular and beloved bands of the past 25 years. Millions of records sold. A handful of hits that still resonate loudly on radios around the world. Not to mention a loyal fan base that continues to follow the band on their ever-evolving melodic path.

The founding of Everclear three decades ago in Portland, Oregon, grew out of the ashes of a troubled past for Alexakis. A victim of abuse and trauma as a child, her teenage years were a blur of tragedy and heartbreak (on top of a failed suicide attempt), ultimately manifesting in a battle to overcome drug addiction in her early years. adult.

While Alexakis might have been just another statistic and faded into the background, perhaps even finding himself six feet below ground before his life even took off, he turned his experience into several huge singles. (“Santa Monica”, “Everything To Everyone”, “AM Radio”, “My Father”, “I’ll Buy You A New Life”, “Wonderful”).

And, some 30 years later, these songs still mean a lot to a huge number of people – evoking memories (creating new ones), making your soul shine, and ultimately providing a musical portal (in your stereo, in your car, in your headphones) somewhere, anywhere.

At 59, Alexakis is probably facing his biggest obstacle yet, with a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. And yet, Alexakis continues to do what he always did: write timeless songs and play raucous music with his freewheeling mind, all in a lifelong effort to uplift and embrace everyone within reach. of voice.

Smoky Mountain News: Where does that old soul mentality come from in you? Because when you talk about the past, whether good or bad, you always talk about it with so much thought and respect.

Art Alexakis: Well you know, man, because I love the story – everybody’s story. I like [that] everyone has a story. I like a good story. I write in first person a lot, if not all the time, and it makes people think that all of my songs are autobiographical. [But], about a third of them [characters that I create], a third of them come from different places in my life, and a third of the songs are just stories.

SMN: Your mother grew up in Swannanoa and your parents met in Asheville. And even though you were born and raised in California, you have that Southern Appalachian blood in you, and storytelling is a big part of those mountains.

AA: Absolutely, man. I am half a mountain person. I am mostly Irish on my mother’s side, [and they came to America] during the potato famine of 1845. Before the Civil War, they sank deep into these [Appalachian] hills – Irish, Scottish, and they loved this area because it feels like home.

There is a lot of culture in [Western North Carolina]. This [Irish, Scottish] culture has become the culture of the mountain people. And it’s deep for me. i always liked music [of those mountains]. I love bluegrass. The Louvin brothers. The Stanley brothers. Bill Monroe. I grew up with it and it is very natural for me.

SMN: I grew up in an Irish family, and one of the great things is that it’s always about bonding, whether it’s a family or a stranger.

AA: Absolutely. This is a very good point. I like to connect. I am not turning away from it. You know my wife has a problem with confrontation. People have problems with confrontation. I do not.

But, I read a lot of things that come from [youthful trauma] – growing up rough, getting beaten up, being abused when I was 8, raped and abused by older teenagers.

It was a really bad situation when we lived in the projects [in California]. So a lot of things are triggered and [emotional] scar tissue. When it comes to confrontation, I’m now learning not to be confrontational or to be able to be confrontational, but not to be triggered by anger.

SMN: To try to find common ground, instead of being angry.

AA: I’m in school right now, learning how to get my life coach certification. So, I learn all of these skills – not just to teach others, but also to work on myself.

But, he is also growing and successful. I have had tremendous success and I am very grateful for it. I do what I love to do, which is live the dream, don’t I?

I was very lucky, I know that. Even with [multiple sclerosis], all the adversities, all the bankruptcies, the broken marriages and all that shit, I’m still extremely grateful for everything in my life – it got me where I am now.

SMN: When you talk about being a life coach, what’s interesting is that it’s the same as being a musician, that two-way street of growth and interaction.

AA: And that’s why I think it’s a natural fit, because I’ve been doing this for years. I really wanted to be of service and felt like I was of service to my group. I have been clean and sober for 32 years. So, I’ve been in the program for years, and being helpful is a big deal. It is a big step.

And I want to do this for the last part of my life. I will always do the group. I’m still going to play shows, and I could do music. But, I want to be useful and connect with people for the rest of my life.

I am very grateful for where my life is right now and where it has been – I wouldn’t be where I am without it.

SMN: It’s pretty wild, though, because when I look at your story you have every reason in the world to be mad at the world. But, you never made excuses – you did whatever it took to get ahead.

AA: I learned that from my mother, that tenacity. [If] there is a wall in front of you, you have to go through it, around it, under it or through it. One way [or another], you have to get out of it. Sometimes it is by force. Sometimes it’s by concession. Sometimes you have to get fluid and make your way, you know?

There is always a way forward. You just have to find it. And the way you do it is to not give up – you don’t give up.

Want to go?

Everclear will take the stage with their annual “Summerland” National Tour at 7 pm on Friday July 23 at the Silverados in Black Mountain.
Joining Everclear will be the opening of the Hoobastank, Living Color and Wheatus acts.

General admission is $ 45 per person, with VIP and Meet & Greet packages available. For more information and / or to purchase tickets, visit www.silveradoswnc.com.


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