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Last year, Art Alexakis of Everclear joined forces with Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray to create the first Summerland festival tour.
It wasn’t everything Alexakis wanted the tour to be.
“I wanted to do something more aggressive,” Alexakis said in an early May phone interview. “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 - which stops over at the House of Blues in Charleston on Saturday - and McGrath putting together the first Under The Sun tour, which comes to North Charleston Coliseum on Aug. 9.
“I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I just wanted to do it myself,” he 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 is certainly more rocking than the inaugural bill. Everclear is joined this time by Live, Filter
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. “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 meet one of Alexakis’ goals – to have bands that had rock radio hits. Live, which is touring with new singer Chris Shinn replacing original vocalist Ed Kowalczyk, had a pair of number one albums with its second CD, 1994’s “Throwing Copper” and its third album, “Secret Samadhi,” and notched three number one 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, also scored five top 20 rock singles in a recording career that has now stretched nearly 20 years.
s for Everclear, the band enjoyed a string of 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
But the past decade has seen Everclear’s commercial fortunes fade, and Alexakis change out the band lineup. He also went through considerable turmoil – a divorce from his third wife, bankruptcy and the death of his mother – before getting his life and his band back on track.
The current Everclear album, “Invisible Stars,” is a solid effort, featuring Everclear’s familiar guitar-based mix of punk, pop
and grunge and a sunnier outlook that 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. “It’s just like being able to keep track of who you
are through all of the different changes that life puts you through, I think that that’s the battle. If you can do that and still laugh at the end of it all, then you live. Everybody lives. This isn’t a contest. If anything, you’re fighting life and winning. That’s what I feel I’m doing.”
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.”