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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Everclear will play favorites as it delivers tunes from its melodic guitar driven canon

When Everclear performs Friday at the Spokane Tribe Casino, expect the hits.

“Our set always includes five songs that reached the charts, another five that are fan favorites, and the rest of the set are requests we see fans want to hear from social media,” vocalist and guitarist Art Alexakis said while calling from his Pasadena home. “I think it’s ludicrous when a recording artist doesn’t play the hits.”

When Alexakis was told that Beck often didn’t perform “Loser” during his initial tour in 1994 when many fans only knew his first hit, he groaned.

“Hipster people thinking they’re cooler than everyone else is disrespectful to the fans,” Alexakis said. “Beck is a great artist and has had a great career not based on those hits but those early songs, like ‘Where It’s At,’ opened him up to millions of people. To not play those hits is ridiculous.”

So expect Alexakis to perform such smashes as “Santa Monica,” “Wonderful,” “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Everything to Everyone.” Odds are such favorites as “Heroin Girl” and “Strawberry” will be played as well.

“I like to keep the fans happy and there’s still time to play some other songs,” Alexakis said. “Maybe I’ll throw in a new song.”

However, don’t expect another Everclear album.

“I have no interest in that,” Alexakis said. “It doesn’t make business sense. I’ll put out one or two new songs a year to serve the fans and include some covers and maybe some live tracks.

“I’ll make it fun and unique. I’ll do what I can.”

Alexakis, 61, is a road warrior, even though he has multiple sclerosis.

“I’m dealing with it,” Alexakis said. “Life’s harder, but I’m still alive and I’m doing the best I can.”

It’s been a life full of obstacles for Alexakis, who has overcome parental abandonment (“Father of Mine”), racism (“Heartspark Dollarsign”) and life as a misfit (“Summerland”).

“Life is full of challenges,” Alexakis said. “We all have to deal with things.”

Music has always helped Alexakis cope. While coming of age during the 1970s, Alexakis turned to his favorite bands, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.

“The benefit from that was that it impacted me as a musician,” Alexakis said. “I’ve always loved guitar rock.”

That visceral style of music was in vogue when Everclear formed in 1991.

“There was this amazing sea change in 1991 with bands like Nirvana,” Alexakis said. “But that wave started during the late ‘80s with the Pixies, Jane’s Addiction and Sonic Youth. That sea change killed bad metal and a lot of stupid English bands.

“Melodic guitar rock was on the radio and it was an amazing time. There were so many great bands during the ‘90s.”

According to Alexakis, a healthy portion of those under 25, who were born well after the year punk broke, are at Everclear shows.

“About a quarter of the audience are those in their early to mid-20s or younger,” Alexakis said. “They were turned on to our music by other members of their family. The kids want melodic, guitars, pure rock and roll and in their estimation the ‘90s was the last vestige of hard, melodic rock and roll.

“That’s what we give to the audience every night. It helps that the songs still hold up.”

Quite a few of the Everclear albums, such as 1995’s “Sparkle and Fade” and 1997’s “So Much for the Afterglow,” have aged well. Part of the reason is that the tracks on most Everclear albums contain a shard of reality.

“I’ve always been about writing songs that are real,” Alexakis said. “They come from a personal place or something that is hopefully realistic from my imagination.

“I look at the great writers like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and they do the same thing.”

Alexakis grew up during the late 1970s in Los Angeles embracing punk and hard rock.

“I was obsessed with it,” Alexakis said. “I would call up the local radio station and ask them to play a 20-minute Rush song and that obviously never happened.”

While making a request to a Los Angeles DJ, Alexakis was surprised that he was a contest winner. The DJ said, “You’re the 19th caller and you won the Bruce Springsteen contest,” Alexakis recalled. “I was told that I won tickets to the show at the Roxy and dinner with the band.”

However, Alexakis passed on the tickets.

“I didn’t go, since Springsteen was so funky and East Coast that I didn’t get it then,” Alexakis said. “However, after ‘The River’ and particularly after ‘Nebraska’ came out, I became a huge fan.”

When Alexakis inducted Del Shannon into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, he told the Boss his tale.

“Bruce laughed,” Alexakis said. “I wasn’t ready for Springsteen then. But he raised the bar for songwriters everywhere. And then there are the shows he and the E Street Band put on.

“I aspire to that every night.”