A new life

A new life

Everclear and Art Alexakis hit the Pasadena Playhouse stage Monday in a benefit concert

By Carl Kozlowski 10/09/2013

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As lead singer and songwriter for the alternative-rock band Everclear, Art Alexakis built an impressive track record with three platinum albums and eight Top 10 hits ranging from “Santa Monica” and “I Will Buy You a New Life” to “Wonderful” during a hot stretch from 1995 to 2000. While a couple of bold creative decisions wound up stopping the band’s sales momentum, Alexakis’ determination to stay true to himself and his artistic vision has ensured that the band is able to maintain a healthy touring schedule to this day, when hundreds of other bands from that era fell completely by the wayside.

On Monday night, Alexakis will be leading Everclear in a special fundraising concert at the Pasadena Playhouse, benefitting the theater’s Wells Fargo Theatrical Diversity Project. The cause is particularly close to Alexakis’ heart for multiple reasons, including the fact that he’s been a proud Pasadena resident for the past three years and selected the night’s opening band from the Los Angeles Music Academy, where Alexakis heads the songwriting program.
Most of all, he’s happy to help the Playhouse because it had a special place in his mother’s heart.

“My mother grew up poor in North Carolina and dreamed of being an actress,” says Alexakis, who started Everclear in 1992. “She received a scholarship from the Playhouse, but it was the 1940s and her father didn’t want her to go, so she didn’t and she always regretted it. I think she would have had a much happier life if she had experienced the Playhouse, but then she wouldn’t have had me, so it all works out.”

For his part, Alexakis attributes his success as a songwriter — whose signature tune “Santa Monica” continues to earn regular KROQ airplay nearly 20 years after its release — to the fact that his creative process is rooted in an unusual hybrid of styles.

“I’ve always loved hard rock and punk, but also singer/songwriters like Paul Simon,” he explains. “Everclear was a singer/songwriter working within the style of hard rock and punk. I think it has always come naturally to me to write really personal lyrics about sad things in a fun upbeat kind of musical setting. I even acknowledge that strange mix onstage sometimes, saying things like, ‘Here’s a catchy song about parental neglect!’”

Having famously grown up without a father around, as evidenced in his hit song “Father of Mine,” Alexakis has used his move from his longtime home base in Portland, Ore., to the Crown City as a chance to settle down and be a better father to his own daughter. He lives in the neighborhood near Pasadena City College and finds that he’s happier now making a living as a respected rock ‘n’ roll survivor than he was in his heyday of million-selling albums and world tours.

“Success can make you more miserable than when you don’t have it, you’d be surprised to find,” says Alexakis. “But I love my life now and love Pasadena. I’m in a really neat well-kept neighborhood of good regular folks. We were just tired of Portland, because I realized I’m not a rainy weather guy. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, and it’s given me a new purpose.”

Everclear performs at 8 p.m. Monday at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $25 to $250. Call (626) 356-7529 or visit pasadenaplayhouse.org. Art Alexakis will also perform solo at 8 p.m. tonight at La Zona Rosa, 15 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Admission is free. Call (626) 793-2334 or visit zonarosacoffee.com.

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