The movie’s long gone, but the soundtrack remains.
“Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” made a quick run through theaters late last year. But
Everclear and Jonny Lives!,
two bands who contributed tracks to the fi lm and its companion album, have used it as a hook to hit the road together, even though the “Van Wilder” coattails aren’t particularly long.
“Have you ever heard of a tour based on a soundtrack?” asks Everclear frontman Art Alexakis. “I can’t remember one, at least not like this. Rappers do it, but that’s a totally different market. It’s really a unique thing.”
The tour idea was spawned last fall, while Alexakis and his Jonny Lives! counterpart Jonny Dubowsky joined “Van Wilder” star Kal Penn for a promotional jaunt before the film’s release. Everclear and its track, “Hater,” were latecomers to the soundtrack; Johnny Lives! was already on board with “Get Steady,” the title track from its debut album, which has been available online since November and will be released into stores March 6. Penn codirected a video for the song.
“My manager’s label was putting out the soundtrack,” Alexakis says, “and he tells me, ‘I know you probably don’t want to do it ’cause it smacks of nepotism.’ I said, ‘Let me see a piece of the movie,’ ’cause, yeah, I don’t do a lot of soundtracks.
“But with this one, I really thought the song ‘Hater’ cohesively fits the movie. And I think there’s a place for a fun, stupid movie — and it’s really not that stupid. But it is fun.”
Alexakis fi gures that “Van Wilder” provided not just a vehicle for “Hater” but also for Everclear’s latest album, “Welcome to the Drama Club,” which marked the modern rock group’s move from a major label to an independent imprint after eight years, seven albums and a run of hits that included “Santa Monica,” “I Will Buy You a New Life,” “A.M. Radio” and “Wonderful.” “Welcome to the Drama Club,” by contrast, only reached No. 169 on the Billboard 200, and Alexakis acknowledges that in the independent world, any vehicle to spread the word is prudent.
“Just about everywhere I’ve done, most people, except for a few writers, don’t know we have a new album out,” he explains. “I thought (the soundtrack) would be a great way to get out and tour on it and basically get a little traction.
“We’re out there struggling and starting over in a lot of ways, but with a name that people know and a sound that people know. It’s exciting to me, the possibility that something can happy.”
Jonny Lives!, meanwhile, is just starting, so the New York trio is happy to have a high-profile endeavor to get its name out there, too.
“I’ve been working towards this since I was a 12-year-old kid in my bedroom practicing kicking over the amplifi er after seeing The Who,” Dubowsky says. “This is the culmination of that, and getting to go out on tour with Everclear is amazing. To be able to play in front of a great crowd every night and get these songs out there, I’m really just over the moon about the opportunities that are coming at an early stage.”
The “Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” Tour, featuring Everclear and Jonny Lives!, stops Friday (Feb. 9) at Harpo’s, 14238 Harper, Detroit. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call (313) 824-1700 or visit www.harposconcerttheatre.com.
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