EVERCLEAR Art Alexakis – Vocals, Guitar Dave French – Guitar Freddy Herrera – Bass Brian Nolan – Drums Considering Everclear has written and recorded some truly iconic ’90s alt-rock hits, it would be all too easy these days for the band to be a victim of its past successes, relegated to performing as a glorified jukebox, existing to satisfy the nostalgic cravings of Gen Xers everywhere. But singer-guitarist Art Alexakis isn’t about to start phoning it in now. Although the band hasn’t released a new studio album since 2015’s triumphant Black Is The New Black, Everclear continues to tour actively. And while it’s a virtual surety that no Everclear gig is complete without a rendition of “Santa Monica” and “Father of Mine,” lately the band has found that exploring the full range of past material—especially the “deep cuts”—not only gives fans a rare treat, it also injects new life into the band’s live dynamic. “By mixing it up and digging into the catalogue, it still makes it fun and relevant for us, and I think for the fans as well,” says Alexakis. “It’s still important to play the hits, but by playing those other songs as well, it makes it all seem more vibrant and real. Even though I recorded some of those songs 20 years ago, I haven’t played them in a long time, so it’s like reinventing the wheel. I’m having more fun now than I have in years. I think all of us are.” Formed by Alexakis in 1991 in Portland, Oregon, Everclear has enjoyed a lengthy career spanning 11 studio releases, numerous videos, thousands of shows and accolades that include a 1998 Grammy nomination. Like a true survivor, Alexakis has soldiered on through multiple lineup changes over the years: During the “classic” era, the band also included Craig Montoya on Bass and Greg Eklund on drums; the current touring lineup features longtime members Dave French (guitar) and Freddy Herrera (bass), as well as drummer Brian Nolan (also with American Hi-Fi), who has performed with Everclear on multiple past tours. Everclear spent May and June of 2017 touring in honor of the 20th anniversary of So Much For The Afterglow, the band’s massively successful sophomore major-label release. The 40-date run was an incredibly emotional and personally satisfying experience for Alexakis, who was able to perform obscure cuts from that time period for the first time in many years. Connecting with fans in that setting also reinforced the lasting impression the album has made. “The tour was phenomenal. It left me and the band stunned at how important that record was to so many people, and to be a part of that, both then and now,” says Alexakis. “The legacy of it is still vibrant for so many people. It was great just watching people react when we were playing not just the hits, but deeper songs on that record. I always liked the deeper songs—they were usually my favorite songs—and when the band would play those, it would be really exciting and important for me. That was fun, seeing that reaction, and just talking to people after the show.” Prior to that, Everclear experienced a career resurgence thanks to 2015’s Black Is The New Black, which not only proved the band could still rock, but also that Everclear remains creatively relevant, decades after their platinum years. As is common for many artists these days, Black didn’t set records for traditional album sales, but the release did see significant streaming activity and sparked a heightened social media presence, putting the group firmly back in the listening public’s mind. The band continues to ride this latest wave of interest. “I personally think [Black] is one of the best records Everclear has ever made,” Alexakis says. “It sounds like both old Everclear and new Everclear: It has a contemporary production sound, but it’s just old-school, angry rock songs. It’s kind of dark, very reminiscent of the early stuff. The sales weren’t great on it, but a lot of people streamed it. It got millions and millions of streams, so people were listening to it, and it resonated.” “We might make another record in a couple years,” he says. “Maybe later on this year I’ll feel like it. I don’t know yet.” That said, the band’s live itinerary certainly makes up for its recent studio absence. Alexakis is excited to revisit songs from fan favorite records like Afterglow, Sparkle and Fade and the double album Songs From The American Movie, but also compositions from more underrated collections, like 2012’s Invisible Stars. “There are people asking for songs, so we’ll just try and learn songs as we go,” Alexakis says. “If we get a lot of response from people to play a certain song, we’re going to learn it and go on the road and play it. You don’t think, ‘Wow, I can’t sing that high anymore.’ We’re not going to worry about it. We’re going to play some rock n’ roll, and just do it.” LIVING COLOUR Living Colour is an American rock band from New York City, formed in 1984. Led by guitarist Vernon Reid, the bands lineup solidified in the mid-80’s w/ Corey Glover (vocals), Will Calhoun (drums) and Muzz Skillings (bass). Stylistically, the band’s music is a creative fusion influenced by free jazz, funk, hard rock and heavy metal. Their lyrics range from the personal to the political, in some of the latter cases attacking Eurocentrism and racism in America. The band’s debut album, “Vivid,” was released in 1988 on Epic Records. The album reached #6 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and was later certified double platinum by the RIAA. It featured “Cult of Personality,” a #13 hit on the Billboard 200 Singles chart as well as the Top 40 hit, “Glamour Boys.” “Cult of Personality” went on to earn the band their first Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. In 1990 the band’s second full-length album, “Time’s Up,” was released and reached #13 on the Billboard 200 while certifying gold. It won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Album and featured guest appearances by Queen Latifah, Little Richard, Doug E. Fresh, and Maceo Parker. Living Colour released the 6-song EP, “Biscuits” which coincided with the inaugural Lollapalooza tour in the summer of 1991. Skillings left the band in the summer of 1992, replaced by session veteran and Sugarhill Records bass player Doug Wimbish. “Stain,” their third LP, was released in 1993 by Epic. Reaching #26 on the Billboard 200, the album had a much heavier and aggressive sound, containing elements of thrash metal and industrial music while receiving a Grammy nomination for ‘Leave It Alone’. After a split in 1995, Living Colour returned in December 2000 and began recording “Collideøscope”. Released in 2003, the album featured aggressive lyrics, with many of the songs about the September 11 attacks. It also contained cover versions of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Their first release on Megaforce Records, “The Chair in the Doorway,” was issued in 2009 and reached #159 on the Billboard 200 charged by the single ‘Behind The Sun’ In 2013, the band celebrated the 25th anniversary of ‘Vivid’ w/ a world tour crossing North and South Americas, Europe, and Japan, including the Soundwave festival in Australia. The root of Living Colour’s next album, came from a performance of Robert Johnson’s “Preachin’ Blues” at the 100th Anniversary Birthday celebration at the legendary Apollo in New York City. Released on September 8, 2017, ‘Shade’ is the sound of a band coming to terms with its shadows and light,” says founder Vernon Reid. “From the blue pulpit of Robert Johnson to the mean red streets of Brooklyn… ‘Shade’ is the next chapter of a unique American journey.” HOOBASTANK Doug Robb: Lead vocals/rhythm guitar Dan Estrin: Lead guitar/keyboards Chris Hesse: Drums/percussion/backing vocals Jesse Charland: bassist/keyboardist/backing vocals “Analyzing what went wrong/instead of celebrating what’s right” “Push Pull” Sometimes even a multi-platinum band with three GRAMMY nominations under their belt needs the kind of pop talk which helped inspire Hoobastank’s sixth studio album, Push Pull, their first since 2012’s Fight or Flight, and debut for noted rock independent label Napalm Records. “We never stopped exchanging musical ideas,” says vocalist/guitarist Doug Robb, who co-founded the band with high school classmates, Dan Estrin and Chris Hesse, almost 20 years ago in Agoura Hills, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles he still calls home. “We waited until we had enough material to start recording an album. We love creating music, even if no one else ever hears it.” Push Pull, so named for the power struggles and codependency that goes on within any long-term relationship–including, but not only, marriage and a rock band–was produced by longtime pal (but first-time collaborator) Matt Wallace at his Studio Deluxe facility in the heart of the band’s San Fernando Valley turf. Sifting through the musical demos provided by both Estrin and bassist Jesse Charland (a band member since 2009), then Robb’s lyrical and melodic ideas, Wallace provided not just the requisite encouragement, but the creative midwifery, which set the wheels in motion for the album. The result nails a bull’s-eye to the underappreciated ‘Stank’s sweet spot–the large-scale, muscular ‘80s-‘90s alternative rock of U2, Duran Duran, INXS and even Tears for Fears, whose “Heads Over Heels” gets a brawny, Bowiesque take on the new collection. “There were always plenty of demos floating back and forth; some of them I played for Matt even before the rest of the band heard them,” says Dan about the record’s conception, which took place over a two-year period Freed from the pressures of a hovering major label, listening to critical jibes or even the expectations of their fans, Hoobastank approached Push Pull with the swagger and confidence of a band whose first three albums all went either gold, platinum or multi-platinum, “The Reason” garnering GRAMMY nominations for “Song of the Year,” “Best Rock Album” and “Best Pop Performance” for a Duo or Group. Of course, about that name, which means, exactly what?… “Sometimes you make dumb decisions when you’re young, and that might have been one of them,” laughs Robb about being the punchline to SNL jokes and snooty rock critic snipes. “It’s too late trying to peel that off and start something else at this point.” As for the formidable bar-setting success of “The Reason,” Doug is similarly sanguine. “We finally stopped attempting to recreate any formula,” he says. “Instead of trying to be trendy or anticipating how people will react, we did what made us happy. We played to our strengths. Take it or leave it.” That go-for-broke theme is best expressed in “Just Let Go (Who Cares if We Fall),” which sums up Hoobastank’s attitude. “At least we get to fly,” sings Robb. “Learning to swim’/Is more than just learning how not to drown.” In the title track and “More Beautiful,” Doug unleashes his falsetto, while the funky R&B feel is a tribute to Dan’s early, late-‘90s penchant for Chic and “groove-based” dance music. “When we first met, he didn’t even own a distortion pedal,” laughs Doug about his guitarist’s love of soul and R&B. Comparing the requirements of keeping both a marriage and a rock band thriving (it has to do with communication), Push Pull songs like “True Believer” and “Buzzkill (Before You Say Goodbye)” show Hoobastank maturing from adolescent to adult relationships, often examining the difficulty of keeping alive the sexuality that fuels them. “We Don’t Need the World” and “There Will Never Be Another” explore the protective bubble and the memories which also bind two people together. Doug’s lyrics to the headphones-worthy “Fallen Star” were inspired by a memory of him watching television one night and seeing a military family of a soldier who had died in combat. It made him think of the brave men and women who serve and even more so now the parents of those who serve. Being a parent now it clicked, the unbelievable sacrifice made by both soldier and their families. “I wanted to say thank you” says Doug. “I usually work best with personal experiences, what’s going on with my wife, kids, the band and our fans,” says Robb. “Those are my family.” With Push Pull, Hoobastank look back to the future, combining the best of what brought them here and establishing their presence in the current pop-rock spectrum. When Dan’s asked whether the simple act of recording and releasing these songs provided its own reward, he notes, “That’s what the voice in my head tells me. But then there’s the voice inside the voice that says, ‘You dumb mother***ker. Of course you want this thing to be huge.’” Estrin grows serious. “We’ve been doing this from day one because we love it,” he says. “We didn’t do it for money or fame. It was our drug. Didn’t need anything more than that. This is still like summer camp for adults. But these days, even my mom asks if there’s a hit on the new record.” Check out Push Pull and make Dan’s mom proud. WHEATUS It’s hard to believe Wheatus are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album and still-ubiquitous single “Teenage Dirtbag.” Yes, that’s right – Dirtbag is no longer a teenager. In honor of this anniversary, Wheatus will release a new and expanded edition of their now classic debut album, in conjunction with a world tour. Says Brendan B Brown, “We found demos of ten more songs from throughout the band’s history, that had such an album-one vibe that they never made it on to our more recent records. So now we’re giving them a proper chance to be heard. The twenty-song version of the album will feature the originally-conceived track listing and sequence, plus the extra ten songs that have finally found a home on a record. ” The band spent the beginning of 2019 doing a coast-to-coast, almost entirely sold-out tour of America opening for (and then collaborating with) Mike Doughty on his Ruby Vroom 25th Anniversary shows. That tour culminated in a super-special sold-out hometown headline show where the “classic” line-up of Wheatus reunited for one night only – their first time on stage together in 18 years. After that, the current line-up flew to South Africa to play some festivals, and then headed to Europe and the UK for another six weeks of touring. In addition to working on the aforementioned re-release of album one, Wheatus are also working on their seventh full-length album and recording monthly live-in-the-studio concerts for fans on the subscription service Patreon.
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