Consistently upfront about the struggles he’s faced throughout his career, Art Alexakis had to come clean.
Rumors were persisting that the frontman for alt-rock band Everclear had fallen off the wagon after more than 30 years of sobriety. But fans who thought his apparent unsteadiness on stage was due to drinking or drugs didn’t know the truth.
Alexakis, 57, recently revealed that he’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system and causes blurred vision, fatigue, walking problems and other issues.
But the singer-songwriter and guitarist also made it clear he wasn’t calling it quits: He’s on a collaborative acoustic tour called “Songs and Stories” that will be making a stop at the Historic Everett Theatre on May 3, and he has a soon-to-be released first solo album.
His diagnosis, which came two years before he made it known publicly, is a significant hurdle in a successful career that has included three platinum albums. But however severe his symptoms are from day to day, he’s determined to keep playing music.
“Sometimes I take it head-on when I need to, but I also live my life until it tells me I can’t,” Alexakis said in a phone interview from his home in Pasadena, California. “If I had to get into a wheelchair and sing, I would. I might even have to rock a crane someday, but I’ll make it.”
At the Everett show, Alexakis will perform with three other singer-songwriters from well-known alt-rock, post-grunge and power-pop bands from the late 1990s and early 2000s: John Wozniak (Marcy Playground), Chris Collingwood (Fountains of Wayne) and Max Collins (Eve 6).
Each will take turns performing stripped-down versions of their band’s biggest hits and explain the stories behind them, then take the stage together to interact with the crowd, answer questions and play requests from the audience.
For Alexakis, performing on acoustic guitar is about highlighting the intricacies of the music.
“I just want to get back to the nucleus of the songs,” he said. “Those are the things that matter to people — the words, the melody and the voice behind it.”
Alexakis escaped poverty and drug addiction while being raised, along with four older siblings, by a single parent in Los Angeles; his brother, George, died of a heroin overdose when he was 12.
He formed Everclear after relocating to Portland, Oregon, in 1992; Alexakis, bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund signed with Capitol Records two years later.
The band’s first album, “Sparkle and Fade,” went platinum in 1996. Their next album, “So Much for the Afterglow,” also went platinum and included the song “El Distorto de Melodica,” which was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental at the 1998 Grammy Awards.
Everclear, named Billboard’s Modern Rock Band of the Year in 1998, was a driving force on alternative-rock radio for years after. Following their third album, “Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile,” the band’s success dimmed, leading to the departures of Eklund and Montoya.
Alexakis kept the band touring by bringing in new musicians and recording new albums, the most recent of which, “Black is the New Black,” was released in 2015.
Two years later, at around the same time he was beginning work on his debut solo album, “Sun Songs,” Alexakis was involved in a minor car crash. A precautionary MRI revealed he had MS.
It was a shock at first, but he came to grips with it after he looked around.
“You get into your 50s and just about everyone you know has something,” he said. “For me, it’s worse than a lot of people, but it’s not as bad as some. It’s not Parkinson’s. It’s not fatal. It hasn’t progressed. I’m doing everything in my power to treat it.”
Alexakis gives himself injections to treat MS three times a week. He’s also changed his diet and exercises regularly, all the while working hard to finish his album, which is slated for a release this summer.
He’ll play acoustic versions of Everclear’s hits songs at Historic Everett Theatre such as “Santa Monica,” “Wonderful” and “Father of Mine,” as well as music from his new album, which includes one song that references his disease.
He said the album is about finding happiness in the midst of struggle.
“It’s not about falling down, it’s about doing what you need to do and finding ways to reinvent yourself,” he said.
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, email@example.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
“Songs and Stories: An Evening with Art Alexakis and Guests” is at 8 p.m. May 3 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett.
Tickets start at $50. Call 425-258-6766 or go to www.historiceveretttheatre.org for more information.