The Verve Pipe will follow up their 1999 self-titled album with a broader, poppier batch of songs, according to producer and Fountains of Wayne co-founder Adam Schlesinger, who is working in a Chicago studio with the band.
Schlesinger, the sugary-pop songwriter who penned "That Thing You Do" for the hit Tom Hanks movie of the same name, has been working with the Lansing, Michigan, rock quintet since early November. The as-yet-untitled album is due in the spring.
"In the past, they've been pushed in different directions that ignored certain facets of what they can do, and we're trying to bring that stuff out on this record," Schlesinger said. "We're having a really fun time. That was part of our goal working together. They have had some tough experiences making records before, so it's been nice that we're peers and it's a light atmosphere."
Schlesinger is a big leap from Michael Beinhorn, the Hole, Soundgarden and Marilyn Manson producer who worked on the Verve Pipe's last album. The new material is expected to be more like 1995's breakthrough Villains, which included the singles "The Freshmen," "Photograph" and "Cup of Tea" (RealAudio excerpt).
"We have very similar taste in music," Schlesinger said. "They're really knowledgeable guys. Between the five of them, they probably know every album ever recorded. We all hit if off right away, and it's been very easy to communicate. I come at producing from a songwriter's perspective, and that's what they were looking for."
Schlesinger and the group singer Brian Vander Ark, guitarist A.J. Dunning, bassist Brad Vander Ark, keyboardist Doug Corella and drummer Donny Brown have recorded at least 14 songs for the album, their fifth. The group will finish tracking and begin mixing at the end of January.
"The hardest thing has been eliminating songs," Schlesinger said. "We had a lot to choose from and, so far, all of the songs are panning out."
Each of the bandmembers wrote several songs before entering the studio,
Schlesinger said. He tabbed Brown's "I Want All of You" ("He's their secret weapon," Schlesinger said of the drummer) and Brian Vander Ark's "Colorful" as his favorites. The latter was originally written and recorded for a prime spot in the upcoming Mark Wahlberg film, "Rock Star."
"We're doing a new version of it for the album and it's a really good song," Schlesinger said.
Schlesinger, who also produced the upcoming album from singer/songwriter David Mead, recently returned from Japan, where his other band, Ivy, was promoting its new album, Long Distance, which will hit the States in the spring.
Schlesinger said Fountains of Wayne have written new material and planned to tour this winter until singer Chris Collingwood was injured in a home accident. The power-pop critical darlings will likely record next year, Schlesinger said.