Art Alexakis

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Art Alexakis
Art Alexakis.jpg
Alexakis performing at Emory University, September 2007
Background information
Birth name Arthur Paul Alexakis
Born (1962-04-12) April 12, 1962 (age 52)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Alternative rock, post-grunge, cowpunk
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, A&R representative, political activist, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, piano, mandolin, banjo
Years active 1998-2012
Labels Eleven Seven Music, Capitol, Tim/Kerr, Shindig
Associated acts Everclear, Colorfinger, The Easy Hoes, Shakin' Brave, Apparently Nothing
Website www.everclearonline.com

Arthur Paul "Art" Alexakis (born April 12, 1962) is best known as the American singer, composer, and guitarist of the rock band Everclear. He is of Greek ancestry. He has been a member of several notable bands, in addition to his own work as a songwriter for other artists. Alexakis founded several record labels throughout his career, and worked as an A&R representative for major record labels, between and during his own musical projects. Later he became a political activist, and lobbied for special concerns which included drug awareness policies, and support of the families of the military. Along with the band Everclear, he performed for soldiers stationed in Cuba. His political involvement continued to expand, and Alexakis campaigned for the bid of former candidate John Kerry for the position of President of the United States.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Alexakis was born in Los Angeles, California. He had an older brother, George, and three sisters.

Soon after Alexakis' father left the family, financial difficulties forced Alexakis' mother to relocate the family to the Mar Vista Gardens housing projects in California, located near Culver City. Alexakis was sexually abused by older kids in his neighborhood. [1] His brother George died of a heroin overdose when Alexakis was 12. That same year, Alexakis' 15-year-old girlfriend committed suicide.[2] Not long after her death, Alexakis unsuccessfully attempted suicide by filling his pockets with sand and lead weights, and jumping off the Santa Monica Pier. Later, he said that the vision and voice of his brother George compelled him to survive.[3]

Career[edit]

Early bands[edit]

Alexakis briefly attended UCLA film school. While living in Los Angeles, he organized a band called Shakin' Brave. Shakin' Brave featured a rather rough rock sound, but never really rose above the sea of music in Southern California. Alexakis and his first wife Anita relocated to San Francisco.

While living in San Francisco, Alexakis stumbled upon a genre of music known as "cowpunk". The sound meshed together the two prevalent forms of music with which he grew up—which involved the tunefulness of country and the distorted guitars/fast tempo from rock and roll. Inspired, Alexakis established Shindig Records. Much of this period was explicitly detailed in the album, Deep in the Heart of the Beast in the Sun, which was originally intended as a solo album, but gradually developed into a group project under the name Colorfinger. Colorfinger also released an EP, Demonstration, although only the full length album was made for sale. Both of these were released on Alexakis' own Shindig Records. A few songs originally performed by Colorfinger were made into Everclear songs. These include "Culver Palms (or Why I Don't Believe in God)", "Invisible" and "Hateful" among others.

Everclear[edit]

Alexakis singing with Everclear, performing in 1999

Following a move to Portland, Alexakis placed an ad in The Rocket seeking a bass player and a drummer to form a new band. Alexakis had two respondents, Craig Montoya and Scott Cuthbert. The trio became the first incarnation of Everclear. After Cuthbert was replaced by Greg Eklund, the band spent the better part of a decade as a dominant act on alternative rock radio. The band scored three platinum albums in Sparkle & Fade, So Much for the Afterglow, and Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile.

The instability and personal turmoil Alexakis experienced throughout his life would directly inspire his lyrics. "Father of Mine" and "Why I Don't Believe in God" described his difficult youth, while "Heroin Girl", "Strawberry", and "Color Pit" touched upon his drug addictions.[4] Everclear's first major album, Sparkle & Fade, deals with the themes of escape and redemption that pervaded his life upon leaving San Francisco.

Solo projects[edit]

While finding success as a musical act and songwriter, Alexakis began taking on other projects within the music industry. For several years, he served as an A&R representative for Capitol Records. In 1996, he produced Frogpond's 1996 album Count to Ten. Alexakis was interviewed on Space Ghost Coast to Coast but the interview never aired, although the interview is quickly glimpsed on Episode 60, "Lawsuit". In the early 2000s, Alexakis established his own label, Popularity Recordings, as a subsidiary of Artemis Records. Alexakis produced the label's first release, the 2002 album Volume by Flipp. However, Alexakis chose to shutter the label in 2003.

Alexakis has also dabbled in songwriting with other artists, including co-writing and dueting the song "At the End of the Day" released on Marion Raven's 2005 and 2007 albums, Here I Am and Set Me Free, respectively.

In August 2006, Alexakis appeared on The O'Reilly Factor discussing the music video for "Hater", the first single from Everclear's Welcome to the Drama Club.

In October 2008, Alexakis entered the studio with the Minneapolis-based band Apparently Nothing (Previously a Madison band, and later renamed to The Usual Things) to produce their debut album, tentatively titled The Middle Coast.[5]

Political activism[edit]

In 2000, Alexakis testified before Congress in support of HR 1488, the Compassion for Children and Child Support Enforcement Act.Through ACES, The Association of Children for the Enforcement of Support, President Geraldine Jenson and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sponsored this bill. The law passed.[6] Alexakis was a delegate for the 2004 Democratic National Convention representing Oregon's 3rd congressional district after campaigning for John Edwards during the 2004 Democratic Presidential primaries. He and Everclear recorded the Woody Guthrie standard "This Land Is Your Land",[7] which he performed at several political events.

He has also been involved in drug awareness programs, including the taping of public service announcements for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Along with Everclear, he has performed for U.S. soldiers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Hawaii. He has also performed for Snowball Express, which provides events for military families who lost loved ones in the war.

Acting[edit]

While pursuing a music career, Alexakis has also dabbled in acting. In 2000, he made brief appearances in the Heather Graham comedy Committed. Two years later, he made cameo appearances in two episodes of The Chris Isaak Show. In 2006, Alexakis appeared on an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide on Nickelodeon as a music teacher named Mr. Gibson (a reference to Gibson guitars). He also had a lead role in the 2006 short film Room to Breathe, and a role in the film Rid Of Me in 2011.[8]

Personal life[edit]

During his younger years, Alexakis was an atheist. However, in an August 2000 interview with Spin, Alexakis stated that he is now a Christian. Speaking about his then-fiance Stephanie Greig, he said, "She's a Christian, and I'm a Christian—my ex isn't—and so I was like, it's okay to be a Christian. I'm not like a born-again... Well, I guess I am born-again, in a way. But I don't knock people over the head with it. I just kind of use my spirituality to make my life better."

Alexakis made his religious conversion more widely known in his MySpace blog upon release of the Everclear song "Jesus Was a Democrat." Alexakis stated that he is a "left-wing Christian".

Alexakis is also a gay rights activist. When being interviewed with The Windy City Media Group in 2010, he expressed his support for gay marriage and opposition to Proposition 8, "I don't think Prop 8, gay marriage or the things your community lobbies for are political issues. We are Americans; that's where it ends. If Lady Justice is supposed to be blind, then why not towards your community? It is going to happen; it's happening, and I think it is a great thing." In the same interview, he reflected on the gay rights movement in the 1970s by saying, "I went to San Francisco to see the Sex Pistols in 1978. I was barely 16 and I went with this neighbor of mine, who my mom didn't know was gay, but I knew was gay. I went to Castro with a whole group of gay guys and saw a side of the culture that I had never seen before. I was aware of Harvey Milk before most people were. It was a great experience." [9]

Partial discography[edit]

With The Easy Hoes:

With Colorfinger:

With Everclear:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carlson, Daniel. "SXSW Film Festival: The Other F-Word"
  2. ^ Alexakis, Art. "When I Was Fifteen (Written in My 44th Year)"
  3. ^ Edwards, Gavin. "Clear Unpleasant Danger". Details. May 1996.
  4. ^ "WL Everclear FAQ – Section B". Whitelightning.org. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  5. ^ "Apparently Nothing blog post". Apparently-nothing.com. 2011-12-10. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  6. ^ Staff reporter (2000-03-15). "Everclear Frontman Art Alexakis to Testify Today Before the House of Representatives Sub-Committee on the Need for Federally Enforced Child Support Laws". NyMusic. Retrieved 2008-02-10. "Everclear singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Art Alexakis is taking time from recording two different albums due out this year to testify at a congressional hearing on the need for federally enforced child support laws. Alexakis will appeal on behalf of ACES (The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, Inc.) to the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 16 at 11:00 AM (EST) in Washington, DC." 
  7. ^ Jeckell, Barry A. (2004-07-23). "Everclear Singer Headed To DNC". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-02-10. "As an elected delegate, the singer will represent Oregon's 3rd congressional district (Portland) at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Boston.[...] Tying in with the July 25–29 convention and this year's U.S. presidential election, Alexakis has recorded a version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land", which became available for download from the Rock the Vote Web site." 
  8. ^ "Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews | Screen Junkies". Ifilm.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  9. ^ "Art Alexakis (Ever)clearing the air". windycitymediagroup.com. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 

External links[edit]