1 of 1
By Photo courtesy of Kevin Estrada
BY ALAN SCULLEY Contributing writer
Last year, Art Alexakis of Everclear joined forces with Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray to create the first Summerland festival tour. But it wasn't everything Alexakis wanted the tour to be.
"I wanted to do something more aggressive," Alexakis said in a phone interview.
Summerland Tour, featuring Everclear, with Live, Filter and Sponge
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bright House Networks Amphitheatre, 11200 Stockdale Highway.
Tickets: $30 to $48. Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets or call 800-745-3000.
"It's just like you had two real rock bands last year. You had Everclear and you had Lit. And everything else was kind of, I mean, great bands, Marcy Playground, Gin Blossoms -- great songs -- but not real like aggressive rock bands. And Sugar Ray is all Mark McGrath. It's almost like a Vegas show, he does so many covers. It's super entertaining and fun. But it's just not what I wanted to do. I wanted to do bands that were real rock bands."
So Alexakis and McGrath split up this year, with Alexakis bringing back Summerland and McGrath putting together the first Under the Sun tour.
"I didn't want to offend anyone, but I just wanted to do it myself," Alexakis said of the Summerland tour. "And I've got to tell you, I'm so much happier with the tour, with the bands, with the venues we're playing."
This year's Summerland lineup -- which rolls into Bakersfield for a show at Bright House Networks Amphitheatre on Sunday -- is certainly more rocking than the inaugural bill. Everclear is joined this time by Live, Filter and Sponge.
It's a step in the right direction, Alexakis said, although he thinks the best is yet to come for the Summerland tour.
"I had a list of bands," he said, explaining how he settled on this summer's lineup. "I went through all of the guys, and some girls in some cases. And there were some bands I was trying to get, well not some bands, there were a couple of bands that couldn't do it this year because of scheduling or because of family or whatever. But they want to be involved with it next year. So I'm pretty stoked. All the work I did for this tour basically looks like I'm going to have the tour I want to have next year."
All four bands on this year's Summerland tour certainly qualify as rock radio hitmakers. Live, which is touring with new singer Chris Shinn replacing original vocalist Ed Kowalczyk, had three No. 1 hits -- "Lightning Crashes," "Selling the Drama" and "Lakini's Juice" -- plus more than a half-dozen top 20 singles.
Filter has five top 20 hits to its credit, including the top 10 rock hits "Take a Picture" and "Hey Man Nice Shot." Sponge, meanwhile, scored five top 20 rock singles in a recording career that has now stretched nearly 20 years.
As for Everclear, the band put out three albums that each sold more than a million copies, "Sparkle and Fade," "So Much for the Afterglow" (1996) and 2000's "Songs from an American Movie, Vol. 1: Learning How to Smile." Those albums gave the band nine rock radio hits, including the chart-toppers "Father of Mine" and "Wonderful."
But the past decade has seen Everclear's commercial fortunes fade, and Alexakis change out the band lineup. He also went through some considerable personal issues before getting the band -- and his life -- back on track over the past few years.
In 2003, he jettisoned the other two members of Everclear, bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund, and formed a new five-man lineup, which backed him on the 2006 album, "Welcome to the Drama Club." The record reflected the turmoil in Alexakis' life at the time, including a divorce, bankruptcy and the death of his mother.
The lineup continued to shift for the recording of the latest Everclear album, "Invisible Stars," released last year.
"Invisible Stars" marked a return to Everclear's familiar guitar-based mix of punk, pop and grunge. Its mood -- far more upbeat than on "Welcome to the Drama Club" -- reflected the positive turns in Alexakis' life, including a new marriage and more settled band situation.
"Whatever you go through in life is going to leave its mark," Alexakis said. "I can look at my face right now in the mirror and I'm still the same guy I was 20 years ago, 15 or 20 years ago. But I've got more lines in my face, just like all of us do. I've got to watch what I eat. I've got take care of myself a lot more. I can't just throw myself around like I used to. But my heart's still there. The fire in my belly is still there.
"I think that's what I was trying to communicate with that record," he said.
Everclear's headlining set on the Summerland tour will include several of the band's biggest hits, but it won't be a marathon set by any means.
"No one has long sets on Summerland, that's the whole beauty of it," Alexakis said. "This is patterned after the radio shows of the '90s, when you'd go out and see eight or 10, 12 great bands during the process of a day and you'd see like each band would play like seven or eight songs. You'd get two or three hit songs, a new single, a couple of fan favorites, and boom, the next band would come on."