England's native sons The Verve, are beginning to get some
attention on these shores with the release of their new single "This
Is Music," off their impressively titled A Northern Soul,"
which will be released on Virgin late next month. Up to now the band
has been known primarily as the band that was forced to change their
name from Verve to The Verve in America, to avoid being sued by Verve
Records in 1993. But they have come a long way from then. The band
have recently been on a search and destroy mission, opening up for
Oasis on their European dates, and engaging in some after-hour hi-jinx
that are best left to the imagination. The Verve had a profound
bonding experience with Oasis eighteen months ago, when Oasis
supported The Verve on the "A Storm In Heaven" tour. In fact, whenever
Liam Gallagher is asked he effuses over The Verve, calling them his
favorite band. The friendship runs deep, and The Verve don't publicly
vent about the reversal in their billing, although singer Richard
Ashcroft recently cautioned a reporter from Melody Maker from
bringing up Oasis. "I'm sick of Oasis getting mentioned in our pieces.
It's about us, this thing is about us." But we'll have to excuse
Ashcroft, who by his own accounts is suddenly homeless, ever since he
broke up with his longtime girlfriend last month. Guitarist Nick
McCabe is also feeling a little down in the mouth, since he broke his
hand (as earlier reported at their April 22 show in Paris) in a fracas
with a bouncer. They may be bloodied but not bowed, and though
massive success has eluded them, they refuse to give up their vision.
"I'd rather paint boats on the beach than taint my dream of what this
was all about when I was a kid. We will never lose the excitement of
playing live or writing a new song," pontificates Ashcroft. Tainting
the dream for the singer means easing up on his characteristic wail.
"I went to a Harley Street specialist about my voice, and he said that
if I carried on with the way I was singing, really intense and pushing
my voice, then it would be gone in three years." The band also seem
reluctant to give up their wild ways. "When I've been on tour, I've
taken it pretty far and I can't believe that people did it all the
time. Take it from me, that lifestyle hurts bad." The lifestyle caught
up with him last year when the band was playing Lollapalooza. Ashcroft
had to be hospitalized for dehydration, after a long stretch of
alcohol-induced craziness during Lollapalooza's run. "But for us the
main thing's the music," says Ashcroft. "When we're on tour, we'll
have a great time, suck the marrow out of it all and come home like
corpses, recharge our batteries and go out again... After all, rock
and roll means never having to say you're sorry."