Art Alexakis of Everclear is a true rock and roll survivor. The charismatic frontman and driving force behind the multiplatinum selling band is as focused and committed to making great music today as he was when his Portland-based band broke into the scene 15 years ago. Their latest record, A Different Light, features new songs along with reinterpreted versions of Everclear's classics. As an artist, he continually challenges himself, and this record is no different. He notes that this record has a new band line-up, and a live acoustic feel. "It makes sense because I recorded those (songs) 10-15 years ago and I've changed..." As an artist and songwriter, he says, "I wanted to document how these songs have evolved." He did this by having the new line-up play live in the studio and then overdubbing the additional tracks.
Alexakis takes his vocals seriously and notes, "it's hard.. I'm on the road..." He has studied with vocal coaches, but also suffered some vocal problems as well with the grueling demands of touring. Contrary to some singers he knows, says Alexakis, "it's really important for me to warm up before I sing." And... he bends his knees to release on high notes! "I sort of found this out naturally, and it does work; it helps."
I asked him if he sings differently now than when he started his career. He thought for a moment and said, "in a way, I do sing differently now, because I have more chops and have developed more as a singer over the years." When he started, he became the band's lead singer out of default, and has grown into his role as a singer over the years. On the new record, he notes, "it's a showcase for my voice in a lower register, it's more gravelly... I really like the way it sounds 'cos it's honest." Also, there's no a lot of autotuning (if any) on the record.
Below he shares some tips garnered over his long successful career:
Art Alexakis' Tips
1. Warm up before you sing! Don't push your voice to open up before it's ready (especially in the studio). Alexakis drinks room temperature water and does lip rolls, among other exercises, to warm up (take note!). He even suggests doing cool down exercises after you perform.
2. Stretch and keep your body in shape. Yoga (when he's home) is a favorite.
3. Continue to challenge yourself as an artist. Change things up to get a fresh take. Alexakis invited guest artists to perform on this record.
4. Use your own life experience as inspiration (although everything inspires him!). His last record was mostly autobiographical.
5. Be honest in your art. Document where you are now.
6. As a songwriter, try storytelling. Alexakis is very much into this. Also, use different approaches to writing songs. He notes, "I don't want to get into a rut with this (songwriting)."
7. Work with a coach. The demands of singing change as you get older, are on the road, etc...
8. Get your own unique sound. Alexakis is inspired by unique voices and worked hard to get his own unique style and sound.
9. Get a connected range. Do the work necessary to be able to sing from the lowest part of your range to the highest.
Everclear is working on a new record with all new songs. About his journey, Alexakis reflects, "I've got some mileage on my voice as well as my life, but I'm still here, enjoying new ways to look at the great things we've done in the past and looking forward to Everclear's next adventures." For Everclear, the afterglow still shines bright.
Cool note: Alexakis and I were both in San Francisco at the same time (late 80's, early 90's) in totally different scenes- our paths never crossed! He was in alternative country, and I had my house/club hit.
By Teri Danz, LA's premier vocal coach and recording artist
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