'90s Nostalgia? Bring It On, Says Everclear's Art Alexakis

The second edition of the Summerland tour features Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge playing short, hit-heavy sets. "No one leaves early," says the trek's founder.
Phil Buckman
From left: Everclear's Dave French and Sean Winchester, Filter's Jonny Radtke, Sponge's Vinnie Dombroski, Filter's Richard Patrick, Live's Chris Shinn and Everclear's Art Alexakis and Freddy Herrera

The 2013 Summerland trek, a package tour featuring '90s megabands Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge, has four dates left after its performance Sunday night at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, N.Y., but to hear mastermind Art Alexakis tell it, he wishes the music never stopped.

The Everclear frontman started the tour in 2012 with Gin Blossoms, Lit, Marcy Playground and Sugar Ray on the bill, along with his own band. The success of that led to "Summerland 2013: Alternative Guitars" which kicked off in May and will have made 30 stops by the time the tour is finished. The bands play short sets, 25 to 30 minutes each, with breaks between during which Alexakis comes out and introduces each band. The short sets are essentially "greatest hits" showcases with little time for nonsense -- that keeps crowds focused and feeling satisfied.

As Alexakis tells The Hollywood Reporter between sets in Port Chester, "People have had the idea to do a '90s alternative tour for a long time. I didn't come up with that; I was the first guy to basically say it was time. I didn't think it was time a few years ago but I thought it was time in the summer of 2012, and I called some friends. There were some very great things that happened and it was a great tour but it wasn't exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something more rock-oriented. Gin Blossoms, Marcy Playground, Lit and Sugar Ray … it was pushing a little pop for me. So this year, it's four bands and it's a lot more manageable with a three-hour show and short sets. Everyone plays their hits and people don't get tired. No one leaves early. A lot of these shows, you've got four or five bands playing hour-long sets. That's a lot to listen to."

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The nostalgia factor has worked in favor of promoting Summerland but some of the bands have been performing new material in their sets. Filter is the only band currently promoting a new album, The Sun Comes Out Tonight (Wind-Up) with the single, "What Do You Say" currently at No. 15 on the Active Rock charts. Sponge recently signed with The End Records and will release its new album, Stop the Bleeding, in September and managed to work in a new song, "Fade From View" in its brief set as the opener.

"The Filter guys have been great and they're on the verge of doing something that no one from the '90s has done yet," Alexakis says. "They've been successful and they've been unsuccessful and have come back and been successful again. They have a record going up the charts on active rock and their album is a phenomenal album. I wish 'em all the best and I think they're gonna do it."

Indeed, Filter frontman Richard Patrick is excited about the reaction to the new material. "People come to Summerland expecting a good time so we take it to another level," he says. "We're so excited to play our new songs as well as our old ones for our fans, and the response to the new songs has been nothing but positive. It's so much fun to see from the stage … This is a tour I won't need a picture of to remember."

After the tour, Filter will head out with Stone Temple Pilots, currently featuring Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. It's an excellent fit for Patrick since he fronted Army of Anyone in 2006, which featured Dean and Robert De Leo of STP. That tour kicks off Sept. 4 in Bethlehem, Penn.

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While Filter has been revving the engine on the crowds with its crunchy industrial rock-pop, the addition of Live is a different story. The band seems to be focused on creating awareness of who they are now. Following an acrimonious split with former lead singer Ed Kowalczyk and an ongoing lawsuit between him and the rest of the band, Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer, and Chad Gracey recruited new singer Chris Shinn and are out playing their passionate songs for fans who don't seem to mind that Shinn isn't the original singer.

As for the founder of Summerland, Alexakis is relishing his role as ringmaster, while constantly looking ahead. "I have to be honest: this is the most fun tour I've ever been on -- and we are constantly on tour," he says. "After Summerland we're doing one-offs, including some fairs and street scenes; crab fests and shrimp fests. They're fun shows to play and that's become big business for a lot of bands, not just bands from the '90s. But to do this every summer, that would be just a dream come true."

As long as the '90s nostalgia remains, the trek will return in 2014. As Alexakis reveals: "I've got offers out to three bands right now and we'll announce it when the time is right. It's just a lot of fun, and everyone's saying that: the bands are saying that, the fans are saying that. I get to play guitar for a living, so I can't complain."

Summerland 2013: Alternative Guitars continues through the end of the month. See dates below:

Jul 23  Des Moines Court Ave. Bridge | Des Moines, Iowa         

Jul 24  Arkansas Music Pavilion | Fayetteville, Ark.        

Jul 27  River City Casino | St Louis, Mo. 

Jul 28  Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre | Kansas City, Kan.

Twitter: @THRMusic