Life changes bring the inspiration for their long-awaited new album
Everclear fans have been waiting for an album of new material since 2006’s Welcome to the Drama Club. Now that the band has released its eighth studio record, Invisible Stars, leader Art Alexakis explains that it simply took that long before he felt he had something new to say. “I wasn’t writing songs for a while because I didn’t feel like I had anything to write about,” Alexakis says. “I didn’t feel inspired. I think too many people try to write when they can’t, and it’s just not exciting.” It’s not as if there were no new product in the intervening years. In 2009, the group released In a Different Light, an album of stripped-down reinterpretations of its songs, and recorded straight-ahead versions of some of their best-known tunes (and a few covers) for 2011’s Return to Santa Monica.
“It gave me the money and the studio time to make the new record,” Alexakis says. “I really wasn’t in a place where I wanted to re-record old songs, but when that offer came up, how could I say no?” The benefits weren’t only financial: Revisiting songs he had written over the years also helped shape Invisible Stars. “Singing those songs again brought me back to where I was when I made them,” he says. “It gave me that fire in the belly again.”
Alexakis also experienced major life changes over the past six years. His mother died in 2006, he divorced, remarried and had a baby, and his daughter graduated from high school and went off to college. He also moved from Portland, Ore., where he had lived for 20 years, back to L.A. where he grew up—a relocation that helped inspire the new songs. “People who aren’t from L.A. look at it as this lotus-eating la-la land, but it’s not, man,” Alexakis says. “L.A. is very intense.”
The new songs sound like classic Everclear, with the addition of some well-placed synthesizers on tunes like lead single “Be Careful What You Ask For” and the loving homage “Jackie Robinson.” “My early belief system was about Jackie Robinson. He changed the world,” says Alexakis, who grew up in a housing project where Robinson was revered. “He opened the door for so many because he didn’t confront, he didn’t fight, he didn’t do any of those things that would have beaten him in the end, and he won. The power in that, the strength in that, the restraint in that, it gives me chills. I wanted to write a song about him for a long time.”
–Eric R. Danton