Words & Deeds

Dishwalla bassist starts new life as smoothie operator

Five months ago, Scot Alexander was the bass player for Dishwalla, a pop-rock band that has toured the world and sold more than a million albums.

Right now, he's standing alone behind the counter at Keva Juice, 8249 W. Franklin Road, waiting patiently for my smoothie order.

Hmmm. Bananarama or Oreo Speedwagon?

"I'll take the Bananarama."

As a blender whirs, I notice two plaques on the wall commemorating Dishwalla CD sales. One is for having a song on the "American Pie" soundtrack. Another is for "Pet Your Friends," the Dishwalla album that contained "Counting Blue Cars," one of the most ubiquitous radio hits of the '90s.

Another customer enters, and Alexander hustles to the register. "The usual, Penny?" he asks.

His enthusiasm is palpable. Slinging smoothies might not seem glorious to the average rock fan. But to Alexander, it's better than Ezra.

Since moving to Meridian from Santa Barbara, Calif., last year, Alexander has learned to love the working stiff's life, relinquishing his role as a touring musician. He quit Dishwalla this spring as the band released its fifth album.

I mention to him that "Counting Blue Cars" — Billboard's 1996 Rock Song of the Year — still gets played on Boise radio.

"Every day," Alexander nods.

So how is it that Dishwalla's bassist is standing in front of me wearing a Keva Juice uniform?

Here's how: No. 1 songs don't necessarily make millionaire musicians.

"I have to explain that to people all day long," Alexander, 34, says.

He serves smoothies seven days a week. But he sees his wife and four children, ages 2 to 13, each day — a rewarding lifestyle change from his Dishwalla days.

"My wife is happier," he says. "My kids are happier. We're so much better as a family."

At its peak, Dishwalla toured with Sheryl Crow and Blind Melon. It appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

But like a slew of other '90s acts — Third Eye Blind, anyone? — Dishwalla faced an image hurdle: Listeners often couldn't match songs to that era's nameless, faceless bands. Record-label troubles added to Dishwalla's stress. But the group continues to plug away.

"We never got the memo that we're a one-hit-wonder band," Alexander says with a chuckle. "... (But) I realized we'd taken it as far as we were gonna go."

Alexander's wife's cousin founded the Keva Juice chain. Seeing no future in Dishwalla, Alexander decided to open a franchise in Boise, which he discovered during a gig for the now- defunct nightclub Pie in 2003.

"It shook me up how nice this town was," he says. "... (I thought) 'Dang! I can get a four-bedroom house for $150,000! ' "

Keva Juice doesn't exactly exploit its owner's past. The bass guitar hanging behind the counter might exude more groupie appeal if it wasn't flanked by trays of wheatgrass.

Nevertheless, Alexander is indebted to music, which he continues to make privately. Thirteen years in Dishwalla made it possible for his family to start anew.

"This is the house that Dishwalla built," he says, motioning toward Keva Juice's bright walls.

Counting blue smoothies, Alexander hopes to serve up one more hit in Idaho.

TV TUNES: On Nov. 15, DirecTV customers will notice that Music Choice channels have been replaced by XM Satellite Radio channels — with the between-song yakking that comes along.

COMING: Jason Mraz, Nov. 16, Big Easy ... Australian Pink Floyd, Nov. 12, Idaho Center.

SUCCESS: Dale Keys' "Sing Them Back Home" benefit Sunday raised more than $8,000 for the American Red Cross.

Michael Deeds co-hosts "The Other Studio" at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM "The River."