As a solo artist, Everlast has always focused on storytelling in his songs. His latest release, The Life Acoustic (due August 27th on Martyr Inc Records), puts an even greater emphasis on the words by paring 12 Everlast originals down to the basics.
"The way all my songs begin is exactly the way they sound on this record," Everlast tells Rolling Stone. "Most of the time, it's just me and a guitar alone in a room, and occasionally with a guy accompanying on keys. So I write the songs, develop the, and arrange them acoustically before I ever bring them into the studio. For me, it's just stripping them back down to what they were when I created them. I paint pictures, I tell stories – that's what I like to do."
Everlast had done acoustic performances before at radio station gigs and the like, then he started bringing his guitar when appeared on his friend Joe Rogan's podcast. "The reaction was really positive," Everlast says. "I started doing some shows and I wound up doing an entire tour acoustically in Europe last year. It just made sense; people were like, 'Where can we buy that?' And I was just like, 'Let me pick a bunch of songs that I like, that I think could use a second look and record them' – along with a couple of covers."
While Everlast likes the fact that such overlooked tunes as "Weakness" and "Sad Girl" will finally receive the attention they deserve on The Life Acoustic, it is a rendition of "Jump Around?," the hip-hop party classic from Everlast's earlier band, House of Pain, that is sure to catch listeners by surprise. "When I would do these acoustic shows, there's always one knucklehead that would yell 'Jump Around,' and I would laugh at it," recalls Everlast. "But then I was in the studio just having fun, and said, 'What would this sound like?' Did it, and it was funny and was just kind of like, 'Well, I guess that's got to go on the record now.'"
The song, which appeared on 1992's House of Pain, remains one of the most popular tunes Everlast has written, though he's not sure what accounts for its staying power. "If I could tell you that, I'd have a couple more," he cracks. "It's just one of those tunes – right place, right time, like 'Louie Louie' or something. One of those songs that became part of people's memories and lives. And a bunch of movies – I think Mrs. Doubtfire is a big reason why it carries on through generations, because everybody plays that movie for their kids. That's a real strong scene in that movie, and that song plants it in the mind of youngsters, so when they hear it in the club or in the stadium later, it's already there. But why? I don't know. Is it the beat? Is it the raps? I don't know . . . I'm just glad it's mine."
Though the idea for the album came from his acoustic tour of Europe, Everlast is not sure he'll be hitting the road for any more substantial outing in support of The Life Acoustic. "I don’t really tour like that anymore," he says. "I've got two kids, and my first daughter was born with cystic fibrosis, so I'll go out for maybe a week or so and then go home for a little bit. Overseas, I'll go on what I consider 'a tour,' which would be a month or more. But I've got other shows all through the end of the year."