Everything is ‘wonderful’ as Everclear rocks The Fillmore in Silver Spring

Hear our full chat on my podcast “Beyond the Fame with Jason Fraley.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Everclear at The Fillmore (Part 1)

They defined ’90s rock with “Santa Monica,” “Father of Mine,” “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Wonderful.”

This Wednesday night, Everclear rocks The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, sharing a bill with The Ataris (“Boys of Summer”) just a few days after the release of Everclear’s new album “Live at The Whiskey a Go Go.”

“I’ve never played The Fillmore at Silver Spring, so I’m excited,” Frontman Art Alexakis told WTOP. “‘Live at The Whiskey a Go Go’ is our first real live album. We recorded it Dec. 1, the last show of our 30th anniversary tour last year. It’s 15 live tracks, fan favorites, all the hits, it sounds great, it sounds like us live. … We’ve also got two new songs on the album, studio tracks, a song called ‘Year of the Tiger’ and ‘Sing Away,’ which no one’s heard yet.”

Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1962, Alexakis got bit by the music bug at age 4 when he saw The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1966. He eventually made his way north to Portland, Oregon, to form Everclear.

“I moved to San Francisco because L.A. had become … pay to play; you basically had to sell tickets to play a gig, so us and a lot of bands moved to San Francisco where they had a club system that was old school,” Alexakis said. “I met a girl from Portland, Oregon, she moved down to San Francisco and lived with me for about a year. She got pregnant, so we moved to Portland in late ’91, had our baby in June of ’92, I started Everclear in April of ’92.”

After recording its debut album, “World of Noise” (1993), on a shoestring budget of $400, the band found breakthrough success with its second album, “Sparkle and Fade” (1995). It went platinum thanks to songs like “Heroin Girl,” based on his brother dying of an overdose, and “Santa Monica,” which opens with the lyric, “I’m stilling living with your ghost,” sparking false rumors about his girlfriend’s suicide off Santa Monica Pier.

“The stuff about ‘Santa Monica’ is absolutely not true,” Alexakis said. “About a third of our songs are autobiographical … then about 30% of our songs are [where] I take things from my life and create characters like ‘Heroin Girl.’ My brother died of an overdose, I almost died three times of an overdose, I had my heart defibrillated, I was a drug addict, I was a junkie, blackout drunk, got sober in 1989, so 34 years now.”

Everclear’s third album, “So Much for the Afterglow” (1997), delivered hits like “Everything to Everyone,” which topped the alternative chart, and “I Will Buy You a New Life,” which hit No. 3 on the alternative chart.

“Before we got signed, me and my second wife, then girlfriend, and our baby were pretty poor,” Alexakis said. “We lived in a place where the neighborhood was called Felony Flats in Portland. … We’d drive up to the West Hills … look at those houses and fantasize about being in them. Two years later, after the success of Everclear, I bought a house up there. It was interesting: a different perspective inside looking out vs. outside looking in.”

The album’s biggest hit was the autobiographical “Father of Mine,” which reached No. 4 on the alternative chart and landed No. 23 on the Adult Top 40. It was based on the pain of his father leaving him when he was 5 years old.

“One night after putting my daughter to bed, she was probably 4 or 5 years old … I remember watching her sleep and just going, ‘Man, seriously, how does a man do that?'” Alexakis said. “I don’t understand how you do that when you see that, and you realize that’s a part of your life and you’re responsible for that. … My wife went to bed, I went to my little studio office, sat down with my guitar and notepad and wrote ‘Father of Mine.'”

The next album, “Songs from an American Movie” (2000), featured the upbeat divorce lament of “Wonderful,” which reached No. 3 on the alternative chart, No. 3 on the Adult Top 40 and No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“I was a child of divorce and then in ’99 I got divorced from my child’s mother,” Alexakis said. “Watching the pain in my daughter going through that reminded me of the pain in me. … That was an amalgam of a bunch of different things that I put in and created that character from the perspective of … a child being in that live wire of emotions.”

Today, he says he’s just trying to be the best man that he can be.

“My eldest daughter went through that and she’s still got issues with me about it, she’s in her 30s, but my youngest daughter, me and her mom have been together for almost 19 years,” Alexakis said. “We’ve got a better relationship than when we met, so she’s blessed to have that strength and know that her parents love her and that she’s safe and secure. Kids just want to be safe. We all just want to be safe. Everybody just wants to be safe.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Everclear at The Fillmore (Part 2)

Hear our full chat on my podcast “Beyond the Fame with Jason Fraley.”

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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