In an exclusive interview with Art Alexakis, frontman of the iconic ’90s rock band Everclear, he opened up about the band’s journey, his perspective on the digital age of music, and the resurgence of ’90s nostalgia. From the band’s early days to their current status as a beloved “heritage band,” Alexakis provided a candid look at the music industry and Everclear’s enduring impact.

Reflecting on the ’90s music scene, Alexakis offered insights into how he viewed the era that defined a generation. “I never thought most of the bands were alternative, I thought we were rock bands. Most of us grew up in the ’70s and early ’80s. We had great rock bands like Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Led Zeppelin, and Journey,” he shared. “Then with new wave with punk and hip hop and the alternative bands like The Replacements and REM and then later more like Janes Addiction and the Pixies, There were a lot of influences that went into the ’90s time, and to answer your question, I loved being connected with it and I loved it at the time and it meant guitars were back on the radio and that was exciting for me.”

The Digital Age: A Double-Edged Sword

When asked about the impact of streaming services and social media on the music industry, Alexakis didn’t hold back. “What you’re really talking about is post-Napster, post-music sharing, and I’ve always had a problem with it being called that because it’s not sharing if you take it, it’s sharing if I give it,” he said. He likened unauthorized file sharing to theft, expressing frustration over the lack of compensation for artists. “No one gets paid except for the guy at Spotify, Pandora, and their people and labels. They get paid, we don’t get paid. It’s almost like throwing it back to the ’50s where record labels were signing primarily black artists and uneducated white artists and giving them $500 and a Cadillac and taking all their royalties and perpetuities and it’s back to that.”

Despite these frustrations, Alexakis emphasized the crucial role of touring and merchandise sales in sustaining musicians today. He pointed out that this model allows artists to bypass the financial pitfalls of streaming services. “Bands like us are called heritage bands and that’s because we have a following from our previous success selling records and doing music videos, and all that stuff. We are very grateful to have that because I don’t have to pay attention to file sharing and Spotify and streaming,” he explained. “I don’t know many real artists who are musicians that listen to Spotify because they don’t get paid anything.” He did acknowledge that Apple Music offers a slightly better payment model, stating, “Apple pays us. Not 100%, but they pay better than anyone else, so I’ll use Apple Music.”

Nostalgia and a New Generation of Fans

The resurgence of ’90s nostalgia in music and pop culture has brought a new wave of young fans to Everclear’s concerts. “I think it’s great and I think it’s inevitable, and it makes me happy,” Alexakis said. He noted that a significant portion of their audience now includes younger fans who connect deeply with the band’s music. “Most of the kids I talk to have held onto the ’90s because they feel like it’s the last real expression of rock ‘n’ roll they can use as a reference.”

The Influence of Past and Present

Discussing current trends and emerging artists, Alexakis observed a mix of influences. “I see a lot of bands that are kind of influenced by earlier stuff, not a lot of bands, just a few that are really inspired by earlier stuff including the ‘90s and I think that’s cool,” he said. However, he lamented that many contemporary artists don’t delve deeply into the history of music. “Artists unfortunately are not looking backward at all the recorded music that’s been like 100 million songs that you can, on your cell phone, go to. I wanna hear Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry The Beatles, The Rolling Stones anything you wanna hear. ’90s bands, Nirvana, Everclear, whatever, it’s right there but most of these artists I see are not looking backward. They’re not doing that and I did that. Coming up, I listened to so much music because of my family and a lot of it was very influential.”

Ethan Walker | PNN

Looking Ahead: New Music and Legacy

With the latest release of the single “Sing Away” from their “Live From The Whisky A Go Go” album, fans are eager for more new music from Everclear. While Alexakis hinted at the possibility of new songs, he was candid about his reluctance to commit to a full album. “There’s a chance but it’s small. I don’t really feel like making a whole new album. At this point I’ve done 9 with Everclear,” he explained. Instead, the band plans to record some new songs soon and find innovative ways to share them with fans. You can watch the music video of their latest single “Sing Away” below!

Alexakis also reflected on the shift in how musicians earn a living today. “Basically, it used to be you toured to support your record, now you make a record to support your touring,” he said. Touring, merchandise, and VIP experiences have become the primary sources of income for the band. “We work it really hard, we are out there meeting people after shows. A lot of bands don’t want to work that hard, we do and we have happy fans and we make a good living.”

Personal Reflections and Messages

When asked about how the personal significance of Everclear’s songs has changed over time, Alexakis shared, “All of them, I mean it’s been a long time, right? You weren’t even born when I was making those songs,” he said. He singled out “I Will Buy You A New Life” as a song that has changed significantly for him over the years. “It’s really important to a lot of people and it’s changed a lot for me, in mostly good ways,” he noted. 

Alexakis also reflected on the importance of family in his life, “We’re all family guys, we all have houses and pay our bills from doing this, take care of families, our crew too, our crew has been with us for decades, we take care of them too,” he said. This sense of responsibility and gratitude permeates his approach to both his music and his career.

As for the message he hopes to convey through his music, Alexakis emphasizes positivity and resilience. “Well, I’m not really a preacher so I don’t really have a message. Just for me, particularly, I don’t have an agenda. I create my art and my music for me. Most artists do. Good artists do. It’s a selfish thing, once you give it out to the world, it ceases to be a selfish thing immediately because you have no control over it.” Alexakis said. “If I have anything that I hope people realize is all my songs, no matter if they’re depressing or not, they all have light at the end of the tunnel, because I feel that in life. I feel like my glass is well full, at worst half full. Most of the time it’s over the brim and I don’t take life for granted,” he said. Reflecting on his 35 years of sobriety, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to continue playing music and connecting with fans.

The Rewarding Journey

In conclusion, Alexakis reflected on the most rewarding aspects of his career. “Being able to create and put it out in the world and make an impact no matter how big or how small. I feel like I have been of service to people with whatever talent and ability I have and that makes me feel wonderful,” he said. “The fact that I have taken care of my families, the different families I’ve had. I’ve taken care of a lot of people, that makes me feel really good. I have been able to really enjoy life and I changed my life. I love the fact that you can do that in this country and in this world. I grew up in a housing project, single mom, no child support from my dad, brother died of an overdose, I got raped when I was 8. Bad shitty things happen but I used that as fuel.” He also highlighted the importance of perseverance and tenacity, lessons he learned from his mother. “My mom taught me self-respect, love, and more importantly perseverance and tenacity. My mom, once she grabbed onto something, she wouldn’t let go of it until she made it do what she wanted it to do and that’s something I learned from her and I am very grateful for that.”

As Everclear continues to tour and connect with fans worldwide, Alexakis remains dedicated to playing music that resonates across generations. With upcoming shows lined up, the band is excited to bring their energetic performances and beloved hits to audiences everywhere. Alexakis looks forward to sharing these experiences with both longtime fans and new listeners alike, ensuring each show is a memorable celebration of music and community.

Ethan Walker | PNN