In Advance of the Band's Agora Concert, Everclear's Art Alexakis Revisits 'So Much for Afterglow'

by

PAUL BROWN
  • Paul Brown
Alt-rockers Everclear had a massive hit with 1997’s So Much For The Afterglow, an album that delivered singles such as "Everything to Everyone," "I Will Buy You a New Life," "Father of Mine," "So Much For the Afterglow" and "One Hit Wonder."

The songs draw from post-punk and rock and presented a more accessible side of the group. Singer-songwriter Art Alexakis and Co. (bassist Freddy Herrera, guitarist Davey French and drummer Jake Margolis) will play the album in its entirety when they perform at the Agora on Tuesday, May 30.

In a recent phone interview, Alexakis talks about each track on the album.

“So Much for the Afterglow”

It was written in the second wave of this record. I wrote and recorded the first part of the record, and I was going to call it Pure White Evil. I finished the record and was mixing it in New York in like January, early February something like that. When I got it done, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t great. It was good, but it wasn’t great. But I didn’t say anything. My A&R guy listened to it. And he was like, "I know it’s not the best you can do." I think he knew it too. First, it pissed me off that he called me on my shit. I had a little bit of platinum album entitlement going on. I wouldn’t admit it at the time. I got all pissy, but I knew he was right. I started writing new songs and wrote that song in a response. It's about fulfillment and what you're trying to get out of anything. It's about what makes you feel complete. It's not necessarily other people’s perspective but yours. It’s just typical tongue-in-check, dark sense of humor.

“Everything to Everyone”

It’s not just at myself, but it's directed at everybody because everybody has the possibility of being that. But I think it was directed to someone in the music business. I'm not going to name any names.

“Ataraxia”

I wanted something to lead into "Normal Like You." I was looking for something with that '50s mentality where everybody fits in and everybody is normal. There was this ad when we were looking through the library in Santa Monica and to use that song, that little snippet, there’s a video that goes with it. To use that, to buy the rights to that, not to own but to use that cost 10 grand. But I loved it so much, and I had this big budget.

“Normal Like You”

It’s a song about dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. One of the things with kids is that everyone is worried their kids will be ADD or ADHD or this or that. I’ve got to tell you, just about every kid is ADD or ADHD. I mean some more than others. When you’re at that age, you just have like electricity going through your body. Your brain is just creating billions of neurons every minute. Our first jump is to medicate and try to make everyone fit in this box. It’s not necessarily because we don’t want them to be different but because we don’t want them to be ridiculed. I think that has caused a lot. When I was a kid, back in the '70s it was called hyper active and they tried to put me on not aderol at the time but Ritalin. My mom was like, “You’re not giving my kid dope, it’s not going to happen. He’s a kid, he’s high-spirited.” They tested me for IQ and stuff like that, and it went off the charts. I was lucky to have a principal who was like, “We’re going to work with Arthur here.” This was a public school in the ‘70s in the projects. And there were two schools built around the housing projects that I lived at. And I got a good education compared to public schools now. We had a counselor, and it was cool because they weren’t trying to get me to fit in; they wanted me to assimilate which is different. They weren’t trying to get me to change, just to find my own place in the whole scheme of things.

“I Will Buy You a New Life”

 In Portland before we got signed, me, my girlfriend at the time who became my second wife and our baby Anna were living  in a not good part of town. We would get in a Toyota Corolla which had a broken windshield and locks pulled out of the back, get a happy meal and drive up to the West Hills and park and look at these houses and fantasize. “Oh I love this house. I love this front, I want that and that.” That’s what we did; we couldn’t afford to do anything. That’s what we would do. When we had success with Sparkle and Fade, we bought one of those big ass houses. The song’s about the fact that it’s different when you’re looking from the outside in than when you’re looking from the inside out. It’s never exactly what you think it’s going to be. It’s also a declaration of love, regardless of the perspective.

“Father of Mine”

It’s pretty much a true story. It’s my perspective and pretty mild perspective compared to the reality of some of the things that went on. It's about growing up without a father in the projects and then becoming a father myself. Just looking at my daughter and going, “How does a man walk away from this.” I didn’t know how he physically could do that. How he could emotionally do that?

“One Hit Wonder”

It’s a basic fuck you to all the people who called us a one hit wonder. People love to see people come out of nowhere and become successful. And then they really love to see us get knocked down and fail. People wanted to see us fail, and I just didn’t want to fail. I bet they sort of feel chagrin on this record.

“El Distorto de Melodica”

It started as this jam we just did for ten minutes and recorded all of it. A friend at the time had told me about ProTools. And I bought a ProTools system, and we didn’t know anything about it. We just cut up everything and took the best part of this and the best part of this and put it together. I was listening to Chemical Brothers at the time but wanted it to be heavy with guitars. Then, I recorded another couple of guitars on top of it. The vocals consist of me and him shouting into a mic with a distortion pedal.

“Amphetamine”

It’s just a story I wrote. I had known people like that and it just came from the perspective of different people I knew. It wasn’t an autobiographical story.

“White Men in Black Suits”

I knew I created a character from different people I knew from class dichotomy and where people find comfort. I had moved to San Francisco and had rage in me. Mostly what I do is I take ideas and feelings from inside of me and make amalgams of other things and I create characters.

“Sunflowers”

That’s another one that’s not autobiographical. But my brother had died of a drug overdose. So, when I became a parent, I just thought, "How did my mom keep living after losing a child?" I just don’t understand. And watching your child, especially me who had been a recovering drug addict. I put myself in my mom’s place and watching my daughter actually go through the things I went through. It's written from the male point of view. But like I said I create a character.

“Why I Don’t Believe in God”

That’s true about my mom having a nervous breakdown. And God bless her. Her husband mistreats her, then beats her and he won’t sign this little paper that will give her the house that she cant afford to pay for. This is a true story. My dad shows up to sign the paper, and he told my mom “I guess you need me more than you want to admit. Don’t you, you stupid bitch?” Then the bank forecloses the house. Then, we have to move into the housing projects.  She couldn’t handle it any more. She put herself in a mental hospital. She was there for a week and they were like, “There’s nothing wrong with you.” And she was like, “Well I just don’t want to go home.” She really did just need a rest. That song is from 8-year old's perspective. It’s pretty heartbreaking. It’s a hard song to sing every night. And this is a song we’ve never played live before this tour. It’s pretty cool. I’m playing 12-string. And even my banjo. It's my old banjo that we recorded with back in the day.

“Like a California King”

It’s another fuck you perspective. I had moved to Portland poor but at the time a lot of people moved there to Portland from California with all their money from selling their expensive houses and buying up the not expensive houses. When I first moved there with a California plate, people were cutting me off and flipping me off. It was just not pretty. My girlfriend at the time wanted me to get the car registered, and I couldn’t even afford to put a lock on the trunk, so I don’t know why she was talking about getting it registered. When I got a publishing deal before we got signed, I took my car and got the windshield fixed and got everything fixed and got the plates on it. And even driving back to the house from the DMV, it was just like nothing. People were smiling at me. It’s kind of from that and from the people that were saying nasty things about us.

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