Remembering Everclear: A band with more hits than Mike Tyson's punchbag

By Eric Mackinnon

eric@newrocktimes.com

On Sunday night I dusted off a pair of albums I hadn't played in more years than I care to remember and cranked up my speakers.

'I am still living with your ghost...lonely and dreaming of the west coast,' are the first lines uttered as the lyrics to 'Santa Monica' wrap themselves around me in a warm, nostalgic embrace.

Everclear are the kind of band, with the kind of songs, back catalogue and melodies which leave you scratching your head and wondering aloud 'Why the f**k were these guys not massive?'

Music is an odd business and of all the bands who are flung against the wall it can be perplexing to see those who stick and those who simply slide back down and don't leave the mark you feel they could, and probably should, have.

Everclear are firmly in this camp.

Former in the early 90's in Portland, Oregon, just three hours from Seattle, Everclear took the catchy parts of Nirvana and meshed them with the songwriting and storytelling best of Bob Dylan while maintaining the untamed spirit of the Pixies.

Frontman Art Alexakis has the brilliant ability to take the bleakest and worst moments of his real life and morph and develop them into catchy pop-rock tunes with no lack of melody and soul stirring joy.

This is a man who lost his brother to a heroin overdose while a girlfriend committed suicide after struggling with the same addiction yet his 'Heroin Girl' song is one brimming with hope and ear-infusing hooks.

A bad experience with racism when he became involved in an inter-racial relationship as a teenager is the foundation stone to 'Heartspark Dollarsign' – a song which Art has described as being about your heart, your passion and your love.

Working my way through the tracks at home it only serves to remind me that 'Sparkle and Fade' is a quite glorious album. A healthy blend of rock, guitars with serrated metallic riffs, poppy hooks, foot stomping folk and songs catchier than crabs on the Motley Crue tour bus in the 80s.

'Sparkle and Fade' did reach platinum, as did another pair of Everclear albums, 'So Much For The Afterglow' and 'Songs From An American Movie,' but they should have been so much more.

Fast forward 20-years and Everclear are a band who don't tour in Europe due to the significant cost of crossing the Atlantic and the current generation of rock loving gig goers are denied the chance to see a master singer songwriter belt out songs which were an anthem of mine, and so many others, youth.

So much music is now consumed via streaming and the Spotify generation can now access Everclear's best bits with just a click of their mouse or a scroll of their smartphone sending the likes of 'Wonderful' or 'Santa Monica' through their earphones.

But there is so much to explore and enjoy through Everlear's journey even if I am left ruing them as the 'ones that got away.'

By now Everclear should be touring the world – perhaps not as stadium fillers but certainly in smaller arenas – and festival regulars.

I've been to every single Download Festival since 2006 and every year I cross my fingers, toes and eyes that Everclear and Poison will make the bill.

They are two of the last bands on my gig-going musical bucket list and I haven't given up hope yet of scratching my Everclear itch one day.

Not every band can be Metallica or Guns N' Roses size mega money monsters. Circling the planet, selling out giant sports stadiums and flying in their own branded aeroplane.

For many like Everclear the reality of the game means they have to carefully plan any tours or studio time.

Everclear themselves launched a PledgeMusic campaign to raise funds for the recording of an album by offering fans exclusive access to the process and a number of unique bundles, products and experiences.

But not once has Art's light or love for music or Everclear dimmed.

The band have had something of a revolving door policy in the band where Art remains the sole remaining original member. But he is Everclear. The band has been his life and an extension of his soul for almost thirty years now.

Music is beautiful. Everclear are wonderful melodic noise bringers of ear nectar and three albums deep on a windy Saturday night in the Hebrides – I am still tapping my foot and sipping my drink and half tempted to whack a trip across the pond on the old flexible friend and finally see a band who shaped my teenage years so much live and in living colour.