By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
That's a dirty shame, as Slow Motion Daydream finds the band in peak form and Alexakis looking more outwardly for compelling subject matter. "9/11, you can't get away from," he says. "The songs aren't specifically about that, but you can't not take that into consideration as a writer or as an American. It was that devastating. I was in bed, it was 6:30 in the morning in Portland, my daughter was in bed, everything was groovy, we were getting ready to do a tour in a couple of weeks, and the phone rang. It was my sister-in-law from Atlanta. And she said turn on your TV.' And I said what channel' and she said any channel.' I turned to my wife when the second plane went through and said, Oh, fuck, that wasn't an accident.' Then my daughter's school called and goes, By the way, school's open,' and I said I'm not taking my daughter to school today! Fuck that.
"Our last three records came out of the Clinton years when things were pretty good. I think when things are pretty good on the outside and people are fat, I think writers tend to be more introspective.
"I wanted to do more storytelling as opposed to narrative," he says a few moments later. "There's still a lot of narrative on the record. I tend to write in the first person a lot. It's a form of storytelling that for me is more exciting. Telling a story and involving yourself in it. I usually fall back on it because it tends to flesh stories out and it feels good. The few times that I've really bared my soul like Father of Mine' and Wonderful,' which wasn't really autobiographical but there was a lot of things in there that touched home for me because I had gone through divorce twice. Once as a kid with my parents and once as the father of a daughter. That was tough. She was 6 or 7 when we got divorced. And her mom remarried immediately, she had a baby pretty close after that with her boyfriend. She's got two beautiful boys, we get along great, and I get along fine with her husband. We live 15 minutes away from each other, we've got co-custody, everything's groovy. As long as I keep paying those checks, everything's cool."
Alexakis adopts the guise of a parent twice on the new album to different effect. There's the moving "Chrysanthemum," loosely based on a story about the abduction of two girls in Oregon City. "That song was me putting myself in the shoes of the parents of someone who was in any kind of disaster. I used the word chrysanthemum because my daughter came home from school when she was in kindergarten and had two front teeth missing and she could spell chrysanthemum. I can't even spell it. But when I hear that word, I think of her."
And there's "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom," the single that asks, "Where do all the porn stars go when the lights go down?"
"I've met a couple of people offended by it or I've heard about it through other people," he says. "For the most part, I've had people come up to me and say, I'm a Volvo-driving soccer mom and proud of it. And I've got tattoos,' and I'm like, And I don't want to see them.' It was just a fun song that kind of pokes fun at people defining themselves and being defined by other people. That's a very junior high school thing to do, and it's understandable when you're in junior high school but not when you're in your 30s. Then it becomes petty and stupid."
Shifting gears, Everclear targets Attorney General John Ashcroft in the song "Blackjack." But people, best Alexakis can figure, aren't buying Everclear CDs just to bulldoze them.
"Naw, they don't give a shit about me," he says, laughing. "I wish they did. I wish that song had the impact. It's different to write a song about John Ashcroft whose own state elected a dead guy over him. They thought he was scarier than a dead guy.
"I was at the New York anti-war protest and there were like 350,000 people there and I know there was that many people 'cause the cops told me there were that many people. CNN didn't talk about it. That day, they showed 20 seconds on CNN and then spent 15 minutes on a pro-war rally in upstate New York where there was 200 people at a military base. So I don't believe the media."
As if to censor his own media, Alexakis concludes by keeping his band's options open and hinting that under the right circumstances (a new record deal on a more supportive label, mostly), "we just might have one more album in us."
But you don't have to believe anything you read, either.