Grunge refugees back
Everclear. Picture: Supplied.

American grunge-pop trio Everclear's first and only tour of Australia in 1998 must go down in music history as one of the worst.

The visit started off pleasantly enough in Perth, before a series of calamities unfolded. Firstly, in Wollongong, frontman Art Alexakis was hit in the mouth by a shoe, which broke a tooth and prompted a verbal altercation between the singer and the crowd, and then with bassist Craig Montoya.

What appeared to be a pipe-bomb was hurled on stage in Melbourne and finally Montoya's favourite guitar was stolen from his dressing room at the Gold Coast gig. The shows in Brisbane and New Zealand were cancelled as Everclear left the country, apparently never to return.

The band, who enjoyed major success via alternative rock hits Heroin Girl, Santa Monica and Everything to Everyone in the 90s, kick off a comeback Aussie tour in Coolangatta next Wednesday with the final date in Perth on October 14.

"You guys descended from criminals," Alexakis jokes from his home in Pasadena, California. "You guys are just rowdy. I love it. I just didn't like getting hit in the mouth."

Seems there are no hard feelings from Alexakis, who is the only constant member of Everclear, which formed in Portland, Oregon 20 years ago.

The 50-year-old and his new band mates spent August touring the US with fellow 1990s refugees Lit, Marcy Playground, the Gin Blossoms and Sugar Ray, whose singer Mark McGrath helped Alexakis organise the mini-festival. Alexakis says the shows were not about 90s nostalgia but, if that's why people showed up, he's cool with that. If people are still singing your songs, it's still valid," he says.

The band's mid-90s albums, Sparkle and Fade and So Much for the Afterglow, sold in the millions and made them one of major label Capitol's biggest selling acts.

"That's when money was shooting out of the ground," Alexakis recalls. "Seriously, it was stupid. "I never took it seriously because I knew it was only going to last as long as we kept making money for them.

"A lot of people made the fatal mistake of thinking, 'Wow, I'm really important. This is great. This is how it's always going to be'."

Alexakis, who still sports his trademark bleached blonde hair, acquired wisdom the hard way.

As a teenager, he lost his older brother to a heroin overdose, a girlfriend killed herself, and he subsequently attempted to commit suicide.

A near fatal cocaine overdose finally prompted him to kick drugs. By the time Everclear formed he was 30 years old.

The singer says he was clean and sober throughout the band's rapid rise and inescapable slide, so he was never distracted by the trappings of fame.

But he never claimed to be perfect: "I just did less stupid things than other people."

Now, his third wife keeps his ego in check and he's happily spruiking his band's eighth studio album, Invisible Stars, which has alt-rock echoes of Sparkle and Fade. "It's obviously written by a 50-year-old guy not a 30-year-old guy, so there's a difference there," Alexakis says. "Other than that, it's Everclear playing rock'n'roll.

"I think too many bands try too hard to change and it sounds disingenuous. There's got to be a natural evolution, a natural ebb and flow, and I think this album really shows it. I'm really proud of it." And he's proud to still be leading Everclear.

"I'm seriously humbled," Alexakis says. "I'm 50 years old and I still get to play in a rock band for a living. How awesome is that?"

Everclear plays Capitol on October 14. Tickets from Oztix.

The West Australian

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