To mark National One-Hit Wonder Day, we’re revisiting our interview with Everclear’s Art Alexakis on this very topic. His tips originally ran in the May 1999 issue of SPIN.
With many of last year’s supposed sure things turning out to be retail stink bombs, it would seem even the linchpins of alternative rock fell short when it came to going the distance. Worse, behind them is a battalion of lesser artists whose careers promise to make Wang Chung look like the Stones.
Everclear is one act that has managed to escape the much-ballyhooed funeral for modem rock, then make off with the largest inheritance. So Much for the Afterglow, the double-platinum follow-up to the band’s 1995 breakthrough, Sparkle and Fade, has stayed put on the charts since its October 1997 release. Its steady stream of smartly catchy singles has kept Everclear frontman Art Alexakis‘s gravelly voice a ubiquitous presence on the airwaves ever since.
“One Hit Wonder,” Afterglow’s fourth and most recent single, doesn’t actually address these issues (“It’s about people’s relationships with the world around them,” Alexakis insists), but it does raise a question: What makes Everclear the Energizer Bunny of a genre filled with also-rans?
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Herewith, Alexakis offers aspiring musicians tips on how to keep the afterglow burning.
To appease the fickle gods of radio programming, Everclear perform regularly at festivals held by Modern Rock stations across America, during which several chart sensations are packed onto a single bill with clown-car density. “They water down music into the Reader’s Digest mentality,” Alexakis grouses of the necessary evil, “but these stations have supported us, so we owe them.”
Plus, he notes brightly, the festivals are usually in the summer, “so people aren’t wearing a lot of clothes.”
Get a Late Start
The current, youth-infatuated music industry climate might suggest that an artist’s career begins to decline at about the time he can vote. But Alexakis, who was a relatively ancient 32 when Everclear signed to Capitol, believes otherwise.
“I was past all that self-destructive shit. I’m not putting things in my arm anymore,” says the former heroin addict. “I can see how, for some people, fame is a terrific mind-fuck—which, at times, can be pleasurable. For the most part, it just makes me uncomfortable.”
Diversify Your Portfolio
While less ambitious artists fritter away their down time engaging in decadent revelry and/or kissing up to Puffy, Alexakis is expanding his empire with projects such as his “more mature and grown-up” solo album. Also on deck: his own record label, Popularity, which should allow the singer to gracefully exit the limelight, while still retaining an exciting career in the music industry.
“I’m meeting with people. Joint ventures are really hard to get,” Alexakis says, already slipping into music mogul lingo, “but it’s definitely gonna happen in the next three or four months.”
Start a Family
Newfound parenthood won’t automatically add longevity to one’s career, notes the proud papa of a six-year-old daughter, but it does provide ample incentive to keep the hits coming. “There’s a point where you have to say, ‘I need more than one room, an acoustic guitar, and a VCR. Now, I need a girl’s room, a family room, and garages for the two or three different cars.’”