There was a time, or so we are told, when rock ‘n’ roll was the realm of titans, when bands cranked out countless quality tunes over the span of long musical careers. But the time of career musicians has largely dissipated, leaving pre-fab pop and one-hit wonders to rule the music industry.
Musicians still try to break through the barrier to make music careers. Everclear, which plays George Mason University’s Patriot Center Sunday, has made a modest attempt in the last ten years to revitalize what band members see as the ailing state of popular music.
As Everclear drummer Greg Eklund sees it, there has been a major decline in music in recent years.
“The state of rock sucks,” he said in an interview with The Hatchet. “There’s nothing on the radio that I look forward to.”
To combat this problem, Everclear released two full-length records last year. Songs From an American Movie Part One: Learning How to Smile (Capitol), released in July, meshes elements of acoustic rock with genres such as funk to create a light, poppy blend. The album started as a solo project by Everclear lead singer and guitarist Art Alexakis. Alexakis enlisted other Everclear members to fill in the record, and in the end it came out as a full-band effort.
Eklund said the band reinvented Alexakis’s tracks.
” (Alexakis) gave us free reign,” Eklund said. “He said `here are the songs, play them how you would play them.'”
Everclear released Songs From an American Movie Part Two: Good Time for a Bad Attitude (Capitol) in November. The record has a loose, hard rock feel reminiscent of older Everclear records.
“The second record was just basically the three of us in a room jamming,” Eklund said.
Eklund said he will never release two articles in one year again.
Although he is happy with the results, Eklund said almost a year in the studio has left him longing for the road.
“When you tour all you want is to get back into the studio, and when you’re in the studio all you want is to get back out and tour,” he said.
Everclear has recently embarked on a tour as the opening act for Matchbox Twenty. This comes as a great relief to Eklund.
“It’s great, just not being in a room with a bunch of knobs,” he said.
Fans may be angered about Everclear’s opening spot on the bill, playing second to Matchbox Twenty. Eklund said the band joined the tour to try something new.
“This whole arena-rock thing is kind of new to us,” he said. “The idea of this tour is for us to win new fans.”
After the tour the band will embark on its own tour, hitting smaller venues.
Everclear has proven successful bringing back quality rock to the mainstream. The band’s 1997 release, So much for the Afterglow (Capitol) went double platinum earning them Billboard Magazine‘s Modern Rock Artist of the Year Award in 1998. The group’s major label debut, Sparkle and Fade (Capitol) released in 1995, sold millions of copies worldwide
But Eklund only sees the future, already anticipating the band’s next album.
“I think we’re at a point where we’re really ready to experiment and go way out there,” he said.
Eklund refuses to let the band’s success go to his head.
“I’m still a regular guy,” he said. “I go home and kiss my wife and prune tomato plants.”
Eklund holds bitter contempt for the rap-core and hardcore genres that have become popular in recent years. He said pop-rock bands steal much of the spotlight from Everlcear’s work.
“I think we’re one of those bands that will have to live in a stratosphere that is overshadowed by pop-sensations,” he said.
For Eklund, it’s all about making music.
“Our music has always affected people,” he says. “I want something with melody, heart and soul. Something that has meaning to my way of life.”
With Matchox Twenty