It’s a new year and 2020 is already shaping up to be a monumental cluster, be-it good or bad, it all depends on your perspective. Aside the craziness that our daily news brings us, the music world has a ton of great things happening for bands and artists alike. There’s Rage Against the Machine reuniting, and there are great bands, artists and festivals coming to town. As part of this nutty year, we get to take in an artist that has been part of everyone’s soundtrack of life; the artist is Art Alexakis.
For years he’s been an outspoken advocate for troubled humans everywhere. Truthfully, we know him best as the lead singer of the legendary Alt Rock band, Everclear. This band makes us smile, cry, and ponder the choices we make in life. Inasmuch as we can laugh and cry about our journey, Alexakis gets us; and we get him. After their first hit, he quickly developed a reputation of being a very strong songwriter; a reputation he’s earned. Through his music we consider everything life throws at us, especially the lows. On the upside, his music reminds us no matter what, life can be wonderful again.
His lyrics are based on the life and times he’s gone through. He’s experienced life at its most extreme, which includes the highs of success as well as the sadness and despair we can all experience at some point in time. Sadly, his lyrics especially reflect his personal struggles with self-affliction. It’s a commentary that’s touched us all in the most human of ways in one form or another.
It’s no secret that Alexakis lived a troubled childhood. It all started when his father walked out on the family. As you would expect, they experienced an extreme financial hardship. Their hardships were so significant, it pushed the family towards the slums of Los Angeles. There, he lived the life of a troubled-teen, doing the things that troubled-teens do. Consequently, he suffered a near-fatal overdose. That near death-sleep-walk-experience motivated him to clean himself up.
As a kid, he suffered personal loss and devastating heartache. It was the kind of loss that would send any person into a downward spiral. Despite the challenges, Alexakis eventually got his act together. Luckily for him, his mother instilled certain values in him that most people can appreciate. Consequently, fans continue to approach him to thank him for the words that have inspired. The song that literally changed lives was “I Will Buy You a New Life.” You don’t have to be a recovering addict to appreciate the perspective and thought behind that song. How many of us have at one point in our life had to tell someone… “here is the money that I owe you, I will give you more when I get paid again.”
Another line that draws us in is a phrase that makes us smile and laugh with a certain agitation: “I hate those people who love to tell you that Money is the root of all that kills, they have never been poor, they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas!” More prophetic words have never been spoken; it’s funny and sad… after all, who can’t get behind the sentiment?!
His lyrics grab us, the music bonds us, and it’s his outlook has kept the band relevant while helping people from all walks of life. Knowing his story is only part of the legend, it was those early days that made him who he is. With his big black boots and an old suitcase, Alexakis left the city of Angels and found a new place he called home, Portland, Oregon. In 1991, he founded Everclear. Needless to say, it worked out for him. Everclear is best known for songs like Santa Monica, AM Radio, Wonderful, Heroin Girl, Everything to Everyone, Father of Mine and Brown Eyed Girl just to name a few.
As Everclear, Alexakis has done it all. They’ve put out 9 studio albums; and several EP’s and compilations. Don’t think for a second that Hollywood hasn’t taken notice of the impact Everclear has had on their fans. Their music has been featured in several successful movies such as American Pie, American Wedding, Blast from the Past, Detroit Rock City, Saving Silverman, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Rock Star and Scream 2. Let’s not forget all those great music videos from Everclear that blew up on Mtv and VH-1. Those videos brought the band and places like Santa Monica to mainstream and made this band a household name.
Despite their critical acclaim and commercial success, Alexakis and his bandmates remain as down to earth as they come. Ask anyone who knows Art, or has met him; and their impressions will all be similar. They describe him as humble and sincere. That said, sometimes, when you’re at the epicenter of anything in life, perspective may not always be accurately measured. That means you live in a vacuum, or a bubble and can’t see past your own line of sight. In other words, you’re on the inside looking out. His character has always been his strength, and it was recently tested, yet again. With father-time now taking his toll, Alexakis now finds himself having conversations that every 57-year-old eventually has (age-related thoughts and opinions on health). You see, back in March he announced that he had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis [“MS”]. It’ a horrible disease, it affects the body in so many different ways. Like cancer or diabetes, we all know someone or of someone who’s been afflicted with this terrible disease.
For those diagnosed with MS, first and foremost … they have to accept the reality that lesions developed in their nervous system, typically on the brain or in the spinal cord. A very painful spinal tap is typically needed to ensure that the diagnosis is spot on. Not long ago Alexakis disclosed to the world that he had headaches so bad that he could barely get see straight. He had to get a blood patch; that’s when doctors take blood out and put it back in your spine. The blood clots keep the spinal fluid from leaking. Sadly, his doctor theorized that he may have had an attack of MS 30 to 50 years ago, but his good health as a young man kept the disease at bay. The episodes he had simply freaked him out.
Knowing the challenge, Alexakis and his wife took the bull by the horns and got educated on the disease. In traditional style, he made the needed life changes. He’s now on a plant-based diet; no sugar, no salt, no oil and today he feels great. The fatigue and other symptoms have just about all disappeared. He has regular reminders of his plight, but taking full advantage of the chance he’s been given, he’s able to deal with the challenges before him.
Ask anyone that’s been afflicted with any disease and they’ll tell you, it’s knowing what is wrong that’s half the battle. Knowledge of what’s wrong gives the afflicted the ability to fight back. That’s all Alexakis ever needed, half a chance. He’s making the most of this chance and the results show.
Life is Wonderful AGAIN for Alexakis, but he’s not fooling himself. He knows he has to take care of himself, but appreciating life is what his songs are all about. He’s no longer just writing about it… he’s living all his lyrics. His fans love him even more these days. That means he’s back on the road and coming to town. If you want to experience one of the most life-inspiring artists you may ever see, check out Art Alexakis on Thursday, January 23rd at The Viper Room. He’ll take you back to that place in your mind that you never forgot, and places you always wanted to go.