"I am not the king of self-destruction," challenges Everclear frontman Art Alexakis before relenting a smidge. "I may be a crown prince."
Now 50 and celebrating his first new music in six years, Invisible Stars, Alexakis is in good spirits. If there was ever any truth to the suggestion that Alexakis was "difficult," that time's passed — he's now affable, funny, and forthcoming.
He jokes about his fiery five-year old, Arizona Star, suggesting, "She's either going to be president of the U.S. or she's going to be shooting people out of a tower. Or, given the 24-hour news cycle, maybe both."
That's just Alexakis' dark humor. His gallows wit and fascination with downtrodden underdogs comes out of his own life. He was raised in the L.A. slums by a single mom whose spunk and sacrifice inspired him to doggedly pursue his own dreams, captured poignantly on their hit, "I Will Buy You A New Life."
"[It's] about putting your heart into whatever you do," he said. "If you've got some ability, it's going to come out, you just have to keep doing it, and that comes with tenacity and perseverance. That's stuff I learned from my mom. She was a tough lady, a tough little redneck hillbilly."
But after 15 years as Everclear, Alexakis was pushing empty. He'd endured a divorce, a 2 1/2-year bankruptcy battle, and gone through three labels after being dropped by Capitol in 2003. While still a catchy album (Alexakis is a magician with a heavy guitar hook and vocal melody), 2006's Welcome to the Drama Club is fussy, indulgent, and off-putting.
By contrast, Invisible Stars is his best since So Much for the Afterglow and even recalls that career-making album. In the interim, he got married and had his 5-year old, but the key change was geography.
"Moving back to L.A. was a catalyst," he said, noting he was an alcoholic up until he left the city. "I'm always uncomfortable, but I'm very uncomfortable there. So my memories of being there are drunk, being in fights all the time, drugs and nonsense. But I also look back at it like [album track] 'Santa Ana Winds' and think about the good times and bad things we used to do."
Every recovering Crown Prince of Self-Destruction deserves decadent memories to warm their golden years, and Alexakis has a pretty good album to go with them.
7pm doors, Thu, Nov 8
1305 E Houston
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