Sep. 2—Things just weren't synching up when Art Alexakis got on the phone with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on Wednesday afternoon.
Calls kept dropping, and this WTE reporter mistakenly used the term "grunge" to refer to Everclear's debut record, "World of Noise," which was reissued last year in celebration of the band's 30th anniversary.
It's not that Alexakis was heated about the term, but he did want to clear something up.
"First of all, let's talk about the word 'grunge,'" the Everclear frontman said. "No f—ing band ever called themselves 'grunge.' That came from marketing people at Sub Pop coming up with something so that (journalists) would have something to write about.
"We recorded ('World of Noise') in 40 hours because that's all the money I had to do it. Yes, it is raw. There's a lot of feedback and my amp is squealing the whole time because I couldn't afford to buy new tubes. If you fast forward over the next four years to making 'Sparkle and Fade,' it was a year-and-a-half project to do that, so it sounds different. I wanted it to sound different."
He also has always wanted each Everclear album to sound different from the last, and in terms of cutting an all-new record, the 61-year-old Alexakis has no plans. Instead, their upcoming album, scheduled for release on Sept. 8, is the group's first live record, recorded during an oversold December 2022 performance at the legendary Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles.
The new release features hits like "Santa Monica," "I Will Buy You a New Life" and "Father of Mine," as well as some much-needed live versions of "Heroin Girl," "Fire Maple Song" and cover-of-a-cover "Molly's Lips."
Before Alexakis took the time to kindly clarify the situation on grunge music, most of the conversation centered around the band's decision to finally cut a live record. This spawned other pieces of wisdom, of which there were plenty.
"I never understood why people are like, 'Man, they were great. They sounded just like the record.' I'm like, 'that sounds f—ing horrible to me," Alexakis said. "I don't want to listen to the record when I go see him live. I want to see something more in my face, more visceral, more immediate rock 'n' roll. And if it looks a little sloppy, that's OK; that happens. That's human. That's what I like about it."
[It was here that the phone call first dropped.]
Alexakis: "Sorry about that. What was I saying?"
Wyoming Tribune Eagle: We were talking about live albums being the best way to hear a band.
Alexakis: "Yeah, because that's what they sound like. When I was 14, one of my favorite bands in the world was Rush because I got '2112' when it came out from this girl that turned me on to it. I'm like, 'This is really cool.' But even then, I'm thinking it's really produced. Then, the live album came out that summer, 'All the Word's a Stage,' and I like it way better because it sounds like a live rock band."
WTE: You guys are getting a great response on this tour. Live shows are selling, and people are excited that you're getting back out there. How does that feel?
Alexakis: "It feels great. Feels really cool that people are responding to rock 'n' roll. Because this record is just flat out, balls-to-the-wall rock 'n' roll. It's a little visceral. But you know what's funny? I'd say about a quarter of the people coming to see us over the last two or three years post-COVID have been like, teens and 20s. Not millennials ..."
[Call drops. Again.]
WTE: You'd think we'd have figured out this technology by now.
Alexakis: "I know. I think that there's some sort of weird government s— that, in the middle of the day, f—s with our internet. I swear it's every day between a four-hour block."
Anyway, let's finish this up.
WTE: You were talking about how a lot of teens and mid-20s are showing up at the show.
Alexakis: "They're showing up at the show, knowing all the words, and what they told me was that they think that the '90s was the last vestige of real rock 'n' roll. And these are boys and girls, men and women telling me that. They just started listening to different bands, and they really glommed onto Everclear. I think that's really cool.
"There's kind of a buzz going on right now. That's interesting after all these years."
WTE: I was picking through your records again, the '90s records, and I was thinking that they hold up really well. It still sounds really fresh listening to those original recordings, and it still sounds distinct from a lot of the other bands around that time.
Alexakis: "I agree. And I think good rock 'n' roll, really good rock 'n' roll, is kind of timeless. I can listen to Chuck Berry or Little Richard, something like that, and even though the recording of it, the production of it sounds dated, the excitement in the music sounds, like, totally relevant to me. And that's exciting. That's really exciting.
"To me, if it's not fun and exciting, I don't want to do it. That's why I don't want to make another all-original record. I've done it, and I don't need to do it again. It's not interesting."
WTE: It just doesn't matter to you?
Alexakis: "It takes a long, long, long, long time to do it. It just doesn't sound like fun. Doing a song or two a year — that sounds like fun, so we'll continue to do that, for sure."
WTE: You also re-released "World of Noise" last year. What was the thought behind that? Did it seem like it was time to just put that back out there for people to rediscover?
Alexakis: "Yes and no, not really. I don't think I look at myself going, 'I think people need to hear this.' I don't think like that. But people have asked for that record for a long time. It's been out of print since 1999. When Capital Records remastered it, I didn't like the mastering of it. It sounded really thin and high end.
"But that CD, and even the vinyl, was selling for huge money online. So, I always wanted to redo it, but I didn't want to put out that version. Then, in January, I found in a box all my old tapes, like, going back almost 40 years, even before Colorfinger — the band before Everclear. I got my original demos that I recorded years ago, so I remastered it and put a bunch of songs on there that hadn't been heard before. And I thought it made a cool record for the 30th anniversary."
WTE: I can't imagine remastering that record and making it sound thinner.
Alexakis: "It's recorded on an eight-track — why would you want to be brighter? When I was on tour, I was like, 'I have creative control, and I don't like this. I want to remaster it.' They're like, 'Well, you got a window if you want it to come out this year, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
"I'm like, 'You know, f— you guys for doing that, because if you told me I had a day to go master it, I would have blocked a day off my tour to go meet someone and master it. But water under the bridge, right? It sounds better now, and I'm glad that it has a nice package. The vinyl for that is gonna come out next year."
[Now, back to the "grunge" conversation.]
WTE: It's more like the (grunge) sound was born out of necessity. The necessity of just needing to record something without any money.
Alexakis: "But that's all rock 'n' roll. Going back 70 years ago, that's how it was created, you know? That's how it should be. I've made more 'produced' records, and that's fun to do, because I liked that.
"When you see us live, even through all those records, we've always sounded like this live record. We've always sounded loud and noisy, feedback and screaming and just blazing guitars."
Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.