It's 10 o'clock in the morning, and I'm still wiping the sleep from my eyes when a chipper Art Alexakis answers the phone with a warm, "Good morning." Only a few minutes later, he's laughing and regaling me with stories of his time spent in Houston, becoming a father and misadventures in San Francisco with the Rolling Stones.
This is the life of a rockstar-turned-father who still manages tour and write music. The front man and creative force behind Everclear, now 51 years old, has matured quite a bit since 1997's So Much For the Afterglow landed him on the musical radar with "Father of Mine." Why? Primarlly because he's dad now himself.
"I wish I could tell you a specific way I do it," Alexakis says of juggling it all, "but I suppose the textbook answer would be, you just manage. And it's really true."
For him, life seemed like a rehearsal up until he become a father. Then it all changed.
"It got serious when I became a parent. I remember the day my daughter was born, I just had this epiphany. 'I'm not first anymore. She is,'" he says. "I didn't quit my band and get a job at the factory. I just realized that there was no way I was going to be able to provide for this kid in the way I wanted to provide for her by doing [what I was doing]. So now I'm driven. Now, I'm doing this for my family."
Before "Santa Monica," "Father of Mine," "AM Radio" and most recently "Be Careful What You Ask For" gained him cult acclaim, Alexakis lived in Houston for a while, between three and five years to his recollection.
"I've got history there," he says, having originally lived in Alief then Katy with his estranged father and eventually moving inside the loop to an area that's still a hub for music. "I lived in Montrose in the late '70s and early '80s, when punk rock was happening. And Montrose was the place to be if you were a punk-rock band."
Alongside Live, Filter and Sponge, Everclear is currently on tour in support of their second annual Summerland Tour. The show, which will be in town Sunday, will be hosted by Proof Bar in Midtown, not far from the front man's former stomping grounds.
"It couldn't be going better," Alexakis says. "Everybody's getting along, the crowds are digging every show, and we're selling more and more tickets. It's three full hours of hit songs that everyone knows, and it's a lot of fun. And the overwhelming number of promoters want us to come back next year, so I think we're doing something right."
While on the road, Alexakis has been writing new music and hopes to make it into the studio as soon as the tour is over.
"I'm writing a lot more material," he says. "We're going to go in and demo some songs when we get back home. I want to make a rock record, like... balls-out, sparkling-titties, loud noises on every song."
But despite growing up, getting sober and becoming a father, Alexakis hasn't lost his edge. He may be a responsible adult and father now, but he's still a rocker at heart. With much laughter and a thick British accent, he recalls a time when Everclear was scheduled to play a few shows with the Rolling Stones and Metallica at AT&T Park, the San Francisco Giants' stadium.
"Before we went on, the Rolling Stones' road manager, who looked a bit like Dick Van Dyke, tells us, 'The boys hate it when bands do covers of their songs. They absolutely hate it. Do not do that, no matter what you do.' And then he pokes me in the chest, and I'm looking at him, smiling.
"So he walks out the door and I'm like, 'We're going to learn this song real quick,' he continues. "So I taught the band 'Far Away Eyes,' and we went out 15 minutes later and did it at the end of our set.
"The next day, we took a picture with the Stones, and Mick is like, 'Oh, man. The 'Far Away Eyes' thing was killer.'"
Alexakis may have humble roots, but he's managed to make a name for himself, and his responsibilities only serve to further motivate him. Stopping isn't on his to-do list any time soon.
"It's competitive work," he admits, noting that potential concertgoers have plenty of options for live music this summer. "All you can do is go out there and play your heart out, honestly. Not even in a Hallmark kind of way, you just go out and put the best package together you can.
"And I think we have a phenomenal package."
Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge perform at Proof Bar Sunday afternoon. Doors open at noon, and the music begins at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.
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