Created by Everclear lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist, Art Alexakis, the Summerland Tour hasn’t lost steam since its inception in 2012. The original formual — four bands who toured in the 1990s and 2000s, short sets, lots of hits, three hours or more of music — still works.
“My idea was to emulate on a smaller level the radio music festivals that started in the ‘90s after Lollapalooza,” says Alexakis, calling from his studio in Pasadena, California. “Stations would try to get in as many bands as they could to play short sets, which was great because these shows had huge crowds and each act had anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes to play a set of their hits, some fan favorites, and whatever new or current singles they had out.”
With Everclear as its recurring headliner, the past six Summerland lineups have showcased such acts as Sugar Ray, Lit, Marcy Playground, Soul Asylum, Eve 6, Space Hog, Gin Blossoms, Live, Fuel, American HiFi and Filter, making it a go-to tour for fans of ‘90s music.
Alexakis says picking bands for each tour is a no-brainer. “I look for bands I like that I think will work well together. And Living Colour, Hoobastank, and Wheatus have always been personal favorites of mine.”
Previously praised by Rolling Stone as one of the “Ten Hottest Summer Package Tours,” Summerland’s second leg of the tour, which winds down on October 6, has been “going great,” according to Alexakis, and “without drama whatsoever compared to most of the past line-ups.” He’s also ensured the bands and crew have taken all precautionary measures to stay safe while on the road during the Delta variant surge.
“Everybody on the whole tour is vaccinated... We put out a protocol, which everyone has signed,” says Alexakis. “We’re just grateful to keep playing live during a period when a lot of bands have pulled out from performing because of what’s going on with the COVID variant.”
Alexakis understands the severity of COVID-19, having weathered the virus personally for two months in 2020. “I was in the hospital for nearly two weeks. It was really rough. I still have scar tissue on my lungs from it, as well as it progressed my multiple sclerosis a bit.”
The singer, who wrote some of the most popular angst-driven ‘90s radio classics like “Father of Mine,” “Everything to Everyone,” “Wonderful,” “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Santa Monica,” has always been outspoken, whether it’s about his difficult childhood, past struggles with substance abuse, or about dead-beat dads that don’t pay child support.
In 2019, Alexakis publicly announced online that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis to raise awareness about misconceptions of the disease. He did the same during his battle with COVID-19, documenting some of his recovery on social media.
“It wasn’t pretty how I looked. But I didn’t care. It’s not pretty getting the virus. Pneumonia for two months is not pretty,” says Alexakis. “You know, before the virus, multiple sclerosis made me feel ten to fifteen years older and now having had COVID-19, it’s like I’m twenty years older. But I do lung and breathing exercises, work out, stretch every day, ride my stationary bike, and swim just to feel normal.”
In between the Summerland tours, Everclear spent May and June of 2017 touring in honor of the twentieth anniversary of So Much for the Afterglow.
“The tour was amazing," he recalls. "I really was astounded at how important that album was to so many people. It was great just watching people react when we were playing not just the hits, but deeper songs on that record.”
In 2019, Alexakis embarked on a solo tour following the release of his singer-songwriter acoustic solo debut, Sun Songs. The eleven-track offering includes an assembly of all-acoustic guitar, all-acoustic bass, some keys, and drums played by Alexakis.
“It’s raw and has a few personal songs, one which I wrote about my wife, [“Sunshine Love Song”], and one for my daughter, [“Arizona Star”]. There’s another about multiple sclerosis called “The Hot Water Test,” because back in the 1940s and 1950s, before they knew how to properly diagnose it, doctors would put people in 115-degree water and watch for them to start showing symptoms,” says Alexakis. “So after being diagnosed with it myself and learning more about it, people who have any kind of serious illness have to deal with it all the time, so every day is a hot water test.”
Prior to Sun Songs, Everclear experienced a career resurgence with the release of its 2015 Black Is the New Black. “I really wanted to make a balls-to-the-wall, hard-rock record with some punk, rock and old-school Black Sabbath-type metal influences, with more heavy riffs, melodies, and harmonies,” says Alexakis. “That album got millions of streams. So people were listening to it, and it resonated.”
Formed by Alexakis in 1991 in Portland, Oregon, Everclear has had career longevity with its catalogue of eleven studio releases, numerous MTV hit videos, and countless shows. The band's first three albums released on Capitol Records — Sparkle and Fade, So Much for the Afterglow, and Songs From an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile — were all certified platinum.
“I’m blessed and am thankful for what I have rather than worry about what I don’t have. I get to play rock and roll for a living. I’ve got a wonderful family, friends and fellowship,” says Alexakis, who is now 32-years sober. “I’m doing everything in my power to help myself and also to put on a great show for everybody. If I’m having fun, it rubs off on people at the show, and we all have fun together.”
Summerland Tour 2021 takes place at 6 p.m., Friday, September 24, at Levitt Pavilion, in Ruby Hill Park. Supporting acts Wheatus, Hoobastank and Living Colour open for Everclear. Tickets start at $25 and are available via Ticketmaster.