Richard Ashcroft--or "Mad Richard," as the British media have christened him--
squeezes al ime into a gin and tonic and puts words to the way he conceptualizes
his band, the Verve. "I think it's really cerebral. The music, the ideas behind the
music, it all comes from different parts of the mind, then somehow it comes
together, working extremely well for us."
Elaborating, Richard discusses the band's third release, A Northern Soul. We were all working on the record and then I went off to London for about three months to sort some things out with my girlfriend at the time. Things didn't go so well, and I got really fucked up for about two of those months, both physically and mentally. When I got back, the strangest thing was that they were playing music that was precisely the way I as feeling and so the two just went together quite easily."
The beauty of the Verve and A Northern Soul is the uncontrived sound. The sincerity of Nick McCabe's desperate guitar melodies and the frustration of Simon Jones's and Pete Salisbury's driven rhythm arrangements, married with the devastat- ing lyrics drawn from Richard's life, all come together in a hypnotic style that should guarantee they will not be lumped into the "add water and instant single" bands of late.
In this sincerity may lie the Verve's downfall. the music and lyrics convey a stark message. It is the cold, hard, unadulterated truth of a world becoming more and more dependent ont he development of technology. As Richard says in "Life's an Ocean," someday we might be buying feelings out of a vending machine.
It may take patience and careful listening to feel the sincerity and raw honesty of the Verve, but Richard thinks that eventually people will come around to their way of think- ing. "I think people haven't had the luxury of watching a band that's up there putting on the show for real, for a long time. So when people listen to us or come to see us, it might take a little bit for the reality of our playing to seep in. But once it does I'm sure people will recognize that we are the best band in the world."
Tough words to argue with. For now, it seems that the world is still learning to decipher the packaged-up-for-consumption acts from those whose vitality and awareness of the fragility of life produce music that either weighs heavily on your shoulders or kicks you right in the stomach. This is the beauty of the Verve, a stark picture of reality coupled with a sonic approach, that leaves you deaf and begging for more. If the future looks dim for society, it looks brilliant for the Verve.