Mixing Things Up

Some celebrities just talk about politics. Others do politics. Art Alexakis is a doer -- a delegate during the 2004 presidential campaign -- and it got him an up-close meeting with the future.

"I went to one morning caucus, and I'm sitting there, and this guy sits down next to me -- this tall, good-looking black guy who I'd never met before," Alexakis says.

He introduced himself to the politician, and the politician introduced himself to the musician.

"I could have swore he said his name was Barry," Alexakis says.

"Then he gets up and he starts to talk. And I'm looking around the room like, 'Who is this guy? This guy is badass!' "

That same night, Barry Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Alexakis cheered.

"I was just like, 'OK, he's either going to be a president or run for president. No doubt.' "

Life as a delegate in Oregon's 3rd Congressional District sent Alexakis door to door, and he had to phone other delegates about business. But some showbiz was involved.

"It was a little different, because I had VH1 following me around," he says.

To pass his political trait down to his teenage daughter, he took her to the 2008 Democratic National Committee campaign.

She got to meet Nancy Pelosi and a bunch of other politicians involved in the women's political caucus.

"That was super inspirational for her. I wish I could have seen stuff like that when I was 16. That would have been so cool."

Instead, Alexakis says, he spent chunks of his youth "doing a lot of drugs. Doing a lot of bad stuff. It took me a while, but I figured it out."

Now, Alexakis doesn't drink, do drugs, or do any Vegas-y stuff when he does Vegas, he says.

I saw him and Everclear perform two years ago at the Hawaiian Tropic beauty pageant. Afterward, I spotted him backstage, barely conversing with the international pageant contestants.

"Most of them couldn't speak any English," Alexakis says. " 'Pretty girl' transcends a lot of things -- but doesn't necessarily make for a great conversation.

"That was the most surreal situation. That was weird, going on that stage with all those girls."

I asked Alexakis if any of the girls turned his head.

"Not at all," since he was in a committed relationship. "We went to an after-party and met some people, but I wasn't into it."

Everclear played a really good show at that pageant. It was full of his hit songs, plus some covers. Since then, Alexakis has altered his tonal approach a few times, since he changes things up more than most pop musicians.

Just a few months ago, he was on an acoustic tour with singer Ed Kowalczyk (formerly of Live) and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer.

But even then, he was planning to return to "rockin' songs, like old-school Everclear."

"I miss having the guitars cranked up," he says.

And make no mistake, Everclear is his band -- all his.

That is, Davey French is back on guitar and backup vocals. But all the other guys in the band signed up for Everclear just more than a year ago.

And even French was in Everclear only from 2004 to 2009, before French took off for personal time then returned.

The only original member is Alexakis -- and that's by his design.

"Like Nine Inch Nails or any of those (acts), it's always been my project. It was always meant to be my project. That was the understanding from the beginning with all the guys.

"The guys that were in the MTV videos? That was the third version of Everclear."

By hiring new musicians every so many years, he thinks, "it keeps the music exciting."

"I tend to mix things up a lot every five years. I'm kind of in a five-year plan, kind of like Stalin!"

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.


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