by MIKE CHAIKEN
Art Alexakis of Everclear was taken aback a bit by the question.
Not in a bad way. But in a pleasantly surprised way.
In an interview to promote the Summerland Tour, which he organized with Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, Art was probably expecting to field more queries about the live event than anything else.
The tour, by the way, includes a wave of bands that filled the radio in the 1990s including The Gin Blossoms, Lit, Marcy Playground, as well as Art’s band Everclear and Sugar Ray.
But Everclear just released a new album, “Invisible Stars.”
And that seemed to be the most appropriate place to start the interview, which began with Art being roused out of bed early on a Saturday morning.
Everclear has always been one of those alt-rock bands that focused on the story telling in their songs.
For instance in the classic Everclear track, “Father of Mine,” from the album, “So Much for the Afterglow,” Art sings about a relationship with an absentee father. “I was 10 years old/ Doing all that I could/ It wasn’t easy for me/ to be a scared white boy/ In a black neighborhood/ Sometimes you would send me a birthday card/ With a five dollar bill/ I never understood you then/ And I guess I never will.”
And “Invisible Stars” continues in that vein of storytelling.
So the question was begging to be asked of Art, what inspired the songwriting on “Invisible Stars?” “I don’t know,” said Art as he gathered his thoughts together in the interview from Fort Worth, Texas.
Then he replied, “Living life.”
Later, Art explained, “There are so many different things,” said Art. “It’s really subtle.”
As the album took shape, for instance, Art said he was getting ready to move to California. His eldest son had left the family nest and was heading to college.
“I was getting out of the tail end of bankruptcy,” said Art.
“It was not one thing (that inspired the record),” said Art. “It was a whole bunch of things.”
Art finally concluded, “It’s a coming of age.” He said, “I’ve reached a new plateau of self-awareness… Things that have been there for me before, started making sense.”
Essentially, Art explained, “I grew up a little bit (during this record),” said Art.
But also noting that “Invisible Stars” was probably the most aggressive rock record the band had released since 2006, Art said, “I grew down a little bit (also) and became a kid with a guitar.”
As for what inspired the Summerland Tour, which comes to the Mohegan Sun next week, Art said it arose from a conversation he had with Mark McGrath about organizing an alternative rock tour.
Essentially, he said, it boiled down to “no one’s calling us (to tour), let’s do it ourselves.”
Art said the tour is based on the old radio show tours the Summerland bands played in the 1990s. In those gigs, each band on the all-day bill would play short sets, focusing on nothing but the hits.
“People loved it,” said Art of those radio station gigs. “People walked out of the shows humming the songs.”
The Summerland Tour is also about providing fans with good value for the dollar, said Art. Fans get to see five bands— four hours of music—and at the Mohegan Sun, it’s just 25 bucks a pop.
Plus, Art said, “It’s a lot of fun.”
Although Everclear has a new album out, Art said during the Summerland Tour, the band will be focusing on the fan favorites. “What we’ll do is play a lot of hits. We’ve never been precious about that.”
Art said he never cared for bands that were reluctant to play their most popular tracks and hits. “It’s something you accomplished, which is very unique and has altered you life.”
That said, Art also promised to play a couple of new songs from “Invisible Stars” in their 45 minute set. They also will slip a couple of album tracks from back in the day.
With the opportunity to play with four other bands, Art was asked if he had any particular fave from among their tour mates.
Art didn’t want to single out any one band in particular. “I’m a fan of all these guys,” said Art.
Although the groups on the Summerland Tour are doing this for the fans, Art said he’s also doing it for more personal reasons.
“We want to work,” said Art. “I want to go out and play music and play music for people who want to hear it.”
And in that respect, the tour is working in his favor.
“The fans are digging it,” said Art. “And we’re digging it.”
The Summerland Tour with Everclear, Sugar Ray, Lit, The Gin Blossoms, and Marcy Playground sets up stakes at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday, July 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are just $25. For more information, go to MoheganSun.com. For more information about the tour, go to SummerLandTour.net
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.