You know what? In February it’ll be Hotter Than Hell. And yeah, we mean that literally in two senses; it’s a brutal Aussie summer, and it’s a festival! Hitting up four locations across Australia with a sizzling line up at every town, this one’s for the punters wanting to travel back to when the amps seemed louder and the mosh seemed grimier.
And headlining the show + their own headline tour is USA rock royalty, Everclear! We caught up with frontman Art Alexakis to chat about the festival and the chance it’s given them to hang out in Australia and play even more shows on their own tour.
Morning Art, and welcome to Wall Of Sound. How are you my friend?
Good morning to you Andrew, I’m going well.
Well, the big news is that you are heading back ‘down under’ for February 2020 as part of the Hotter Than Hell tour as well as a slew of sideshows. Tell me about the tour and how it all came about?
Well, we got an offer from the people at Hotter Than Hell to do the tour with Unwritten Law and a bunch of great Australian punk bands. Another Australian agency contacted our agent and wanted to wrap another tour of our own around it. So it’s really exciting for me as I have never been in Australia for this long at one time. Usually we come to Australia and play four or five shows over a 7-10 day period, this time it’s fifteen shows over a three and a half week period. This tour is going to be a lot of fun.
With this tour being the most comprehensive tour of Australia that the band has ever done, are you looking forward to experiencing an Australian summer?
You know (laughs), it’s funny you say that. I’m not sure if you are aware but I have a disease called Multiple Sclerosis which is very sensitive to heat, so I have been talking to my neurologist and we’re looking at ways to keep me cool while I’m on stage. Aside from that, I am so looking forward to being down under for the summer. We usually seem to tour there when it is either fall (autumn) or winter so I am sure this is going to be fun.
Everclear were last here in 2017 as a part of the 20th anniversary of So Much For The Afterglow. It must seem surreal in many ways to be out on the road celebrating milestone anniversaries for bodies of work that are in the blink of an eye twenty plus years old.
It’s fun to celebrate these albums; we tend to play side one of the record then do some hits and favorites and then we play side two, the big hits and call it a show. So far we have done it for Sparkle and Fade and So much For The Afterglow in Australia. We were also out there in 2017 touring the last record Black Is The New Black. What we are also doing in 2020 is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Songs From An American Movie Vol. 1 & 2. However this tour to Australia won’t be based around those records; that tour will start after the Australian tour. For some reason those records were not as popular in Australia as they were in other markets. But rest assured with our headlining shows we will be playing songs from those albums.
Songs From An American Movie Vol. 1 & 2 seemed to create a bit of confusion with the public as to what songs came from which album. They were 4 months apart, whose idea was it to do two separate records and not a double set, or simultaneous release like Use Your Illusions 1 & 2 by Guns N Roses?
That was an idea that came from my manager. I wanted to do a double album that was more of a concept album that told stories of American life. The initial idea was to do a hard song, a soft song, a hard song, a soft song and so on. The intention for the double album was to be eighteen to twenty songs. But my manager convinced me to do them as two separate albums, as nobody had done that way before, when really all he wanted was to get paid because he knew that we would be out of contract and then be able to renegotiate our publishing and record contract. In hindsight, now I would have only done one record, one double album and I honestly think that it would have been much more successful as one package. The only other band that had released a double album with a part one and two was Guns N Roses with the Use Your Illusions set and that worked so well for them because they were so big at the time where as we weren’t. I still think that there are a lot of fillers of those records and that also includes what we did. I honestly think that one record with eighteen to twenty song would have been killer for us.
Festival sets seem to be quite different to headlining your own tour sets . How will the two types of shows differ?
The Hotter Than Hell sets are shorter than our own shows and will be primarily the hits, where as our own shows will focus a little more on some of the heavier and faster guitar driven songs. We will go right back into the catalogue and we will also play some songs from 2016’s Black Is The New Black which was really well received in Australia. There will also be a couple of song from my solo records in there too. I’m building up the set lists at the moments and see how things go, see what people react to and want to hear, so we will be changing things us as we go. I am all for adding in a song people want to hear. Just let me know via Twitter and the other social media’s. Anything is possible, there is nothing we won’t play (laughs).
For me, personally, Everclear filled a bit of a void in the late nineties. You brought back clever melodies, fun songs, big energy, depth in writing and great storytelling. If you had to pigeon hole Everclear into one genre or style, what would it be?
I have always regarded Everclear to be a melodic hard rock/punk rock band or as the industry labeled it alternative rock. But personally I would classify myself a singer/songwriter. I have always loved singer/songwriters – I love hard rock, punk rock, hip hop and there are a lot of those elements in everything I write. My solo record Sun Songs is more of that singer/songwriter style as there is no big loud band behind me, there are no loud guitars or thundering drums. It’s me playing drums where it needs to be – I play all of the instruments. If I had to isolate it though, I would consider myself to be a hard rock, punk rock, singer songwriter because that is all I ever really wanted to do.
For me, Everclear has always been the little/younger brother to Cheap Trick. You mastered that power pop/hard rock style. Was Cheap Trick a big influence on you growing up?
Huge, absolutely huge! As a matter of fact, I am lucky to have become friends with the Cheap Trick guys within my career. That is a big deal for me. Those guys are still a big deal to me. We reach out to each other when we are on the road we try to catch each other’s show wherever and whenever we can. Those first three Cheap Trick records are so important to me in every way.
The amazing thing about the run of headlining show is that you are playing my favourite venue in Hobart, Tasmania (my home state) on February 2nd, The Odeon. I was beyond excited when I saw that announced. So, thank you for thinking of us. This isn’t the first time you have been to Hobart either is it?
No, this will be my second time in Hobart with Everclear. We first came to Hobart in 1997. I do know that ticket sales have been going crazy in Tasmania and if it doesn’t sell out I will be surprised. It’s going to be one hell of a show too. I love Hobart and can’t wait to get back there, the last time we were there was just incredible. I love Hobart; I love Perth and the cities that don’t seem to get a lot of tours. We always get a ton of love from those audiences.
Is there anything you want to do or see this time around while you are in Australia?
Not really, no. I do know that we are trying to possibly add a couple of more dates while we are out there, which may include a couple of shows in New Zealand. But when I have a day off I tend to visit museums, hit the movies, and check out local art, that kind of stuff. Having said that, in the last six months I have changed my diet to a plant based one so I am keen to check out the vegan food in Australia and see what each city has to offer.
If you need anything while you are in Hobart, please let me know as I am happy to be your tour guide.
I may just take you up on that (laughs).
Thank you for your time and a great chat. Have an amazing festive season Art, and we are looking forward to having you and the band out here next January/February for the Hotter Than Hell tour as well as your own shows. Take care.
Thank you. See you all soon, I can’t wait.
Interview by Andrew Slaidins.
Hotter Than Hell 2020
EVERCLEAR· UNWRITTEN LAW · THE GRATES · FRENZAL RHOMB· THE SUPERJESUS· MOTOR ACE · COSMIC PSYCHOS · AREA 7 · YOUNG OFFENDERS · CHASING GHOSTS · AXE GIRL
Saturday 1st February – Coopers Alehouse, Gepps Cross SA
Saturday 8th February – York on Lilydale, Mt Evelyn VIC
Saturday 15th February – Kirwan Tavern, Townsville QLD
Saturday 22nd February – Dunsborough Tavern, Dunsborough WA
Everclear – Australia Tour 2020
THU 30 JAN | The Cambridge Hotel | TICKETS
FRI 31 JAN | The Metro Theatre | SYDNEY, NSW | TICKETS
SUN 2 FEB | Odeon Theatre | HOBART, TAS | TICKETS
THUR 06 FEB | Croxton Bandroom | THORNBURY, VIC | TICKETS
FRI 07 FEB | Pier Bandroom | FRANKSTON, VIC | TICKETS
SUN 09 FEB | The Basement | CANBERRA, ACT | TICKETS
WED 12 FEB | The Helm | MOOLOOLABA, QLD | TICKETS
THUR 13 FEB | Parkwood Tavern | GOLD COAST, QLD | TICKETS
FRI 14 FEB | Racehorse Hotel | IPSWICH, QLD | TICKETS
THU 20 FEB | Freo Social | FREMANTLE, WA | TICKETS
FRI 21 FEB | The Carine Glades Tavern | DUNCRAIG, WA | TICKETS