Richard Ashcroft performs a live acoustic session including music from his forthcoming solo album These People. The tracklist includes: "This Is How It Feels," "Hold On," "Lucky Man," and "Bittersweet Symphony."
Host John Doran sits down with former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft ahead of the release of his fourth solo album These People. Ashcroft discusses fatherhood, what he misses about the North, and Bitter Sweet Symphony.
"Today I am speaking to one of the biggest, and arguably most
misunderstood pop stars of last quarter of a century: Richard Ashcroft.
His band The Verve were one of the most unlikely success stories of the
1990s, predicted by no-one bar him. Nearly 20 years after the phenomenal
success of Urban Hymns, Ashcroft has become ambiguous about fame, but
as this rare interview proves, he has more to say than ever." - John Doran
The Verve singer speaks to NME for an exclusive interview in this week's magazine.
The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft has suggested that he would be open to working with Noel Gallagher, telling NME in a new interview: "in the future who knows what might happen."
Ashcroft speaks to NME in an exclusive cover feature in this week's magazine (available now, free in the UK).
Ahead of releasing new album These People on May 14, Ashcroft bemoaned the current state of the music industry, saying that he's "got no faith in it whatsoever."
He continued: "It’s sold itself up the river, stabbed people in the back instead of trying to create a good, solid British music alternative. Turn left for Cowell, turn right for this. The mainstream consumed our culture."
"You can get as many songwriters in a room as you want for your new talent show contest winner, it’s never gonna sound like a great Noel Gallagher song sung by Liam, it’s never gonna reach "Live Forever," it’s never gonna be [Verve song] "Lucky Man." We know that."
Asked whether he would work with Gallagher, Ashcroft replied: "It’s a great compliment for Noel to say something like that, and in the future who knows what might happen. I wish things like this would've happened years ago."
Ashcroft went on to speak of his fondness for his Britpop peers, saying: "Even the guys we had a bit of friction with, I look back and wish them luck. If I hear [Pulp frontman] Jarvis Cocker on the radio it gives me a good feeling. He’s waving a flag for culture from that time. We’re not stopping."
Ashcroft recently released new track "This Is How It Feels," which Liam Gallagher later praised.
Richard Ashcroft will play the following live dates:
- Manchester, Albert Hall (May 14)
- London, Roundhouse (May 16)
Rocker RICHARD ASHCROFT went without a cell phone for four years as he felt like a "slave" to the device.
The Verve's former frontman has rarely been heard from in public since he stopped touring in 2011, and his reclusive habits extended to his personal life as he wanted to escape from his dependence on digital communication.
"I didn't have a mobile phone for four years," he tells NME magazine. "I'd become a slave to it, the amount of times you just find yourself wondering why you just opened that mobile device up. Are you actually doing anything or is it just a habit that's out of control?"
The Bittersweet Symphony singer's wariness of the modern world extends beyond his use of technology as he feels that western civilization itself may be on the brink of collapse.
"It's all coming to a head. The Ponzi scheme is about to burst," he adds. "When you build stuff on things that aren't real then it comes falling down."
"People are dealing with stuff that would have been deemed fantasy - madness that was a part of movies has become reality. We're getting news of an earthquake three seconds after it happened on the other side of the world."
"I don't think we were wired to empathize with the world's grief, we were wired to empathize with our tribe."
The rocker's new album These People, out 20 May, is apparently an expression of his mistrust of contemporary culture as he says, "I'm no activist - it's not a political record - but scratch below the surface of some of the stories presented as facts over the last few years and you come to the conclusion that we're being played on a big level."
The shamanic Richard Ashcroft fronted one of the most iconic – and successful – bands of the ’90s, The Verve. Then he went solo, then disappeared. After six years in the wilderness he’s back – and he’s pumped.
When rock stars disappear into their wilderness period, they might barricade themselves in remote drug shacks, suffer breakdowns in expensive celebrity rehabs or backpack around the world saving endangered mealworms. But few go as off-grid as Richard Ashcroft.
“I didn't have a mobile phone for four years,” says the conductor of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, choirmaster of The Verve’s 10 million-selling ‘Urban Hymns’ and rock’s eternal cosmic question mark. “I’d become a slave to it,” he says. “The amount of times you find yourself wondering why you just opened that mobile device up. Are you actually doing anything or is it just a habit that’s out of control?” Six years on from his last major interview and with barely a handful of solo acoustic shows under his belt since he stopped touring 2010’s critically maligned (but quite intriguing) rap-rock fourth album ‘United Nations Of Sound’, Richard is bursting out of the woods like a wolf attack. He arrives at this west London photo studio as if fresh from lobbing Molotovs – hair shaven, eyes shaded, scarf across his craggy features and jabbering like an enlightened monk finally breaking his vow of silence. He is, after all, released from years of self-imposed solitary confinement in Josef Fritzl’s idea of a recording session. His brilliant new album ‘These People’, a slice of classic Verve song craft with modernist electronic touches, was pieced together in his home basement studio in bursts over the past six years, in between “being a dad and living a standard-ish kind of life with dogs and school runs”. Having discarded the distraction of his mobile, he tinkered at length with “new old keyboards”, learning new crafts and trying reinvent the looping melodicism of ‘Urban Hymns’. “With all the studios closing down, record sales hit massively, the whole industry changing, I had to re-evaluate how I could still create these super records,” he explains. “So [album track] ‘Out Of My Body’ is in the mould of ‘A Song For The Lovers’, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, going right back. It’s a proper old-school record made with modern technology and old stuff to create something you've never heard before.”
Richard Ashcroft has got one of those solo album things to share, his fourth, and the first since 2006. Titled These People, it’ll be released by his own Righteous Phonographic Association in partnership with Cooking Vinyl on 20 May.
The album is produced by longtime collaborator Chris Potter, and reunites the Verve man with string arranger Wil Malone, with whom Ashcroft has worked several times before, most recently on his 2000 debut solo album Alone With Everybody.
Of the new album, Ashcroft says: “Some personal and world events take a darker turn, leading to a sense of urgency and clearing of the mind. My lane in the chaos becomes clearer. To be a modern day troubadour, to play a set of songs in front of 30,000 Mexicans all singing back with six strings and one voice – this influences the final stages of the new album”.
And as if that wasn't clear enough, he adds: “To do nothing would be a crime – this sick nihilistic age of war. The line has been drawn – who are these people?”
Today, Richard Ashcroft kicked off the campaign for his upcoming studio album by confirming the album's title, lead single, release date and cover. The new album, These People, will be released on May 20, 2016 through the Righteous Phonographic Association label via Cooking Vinyl Records.
Coming nearly 6 years after United Nations of Sound, the 10-track effort will be Ashcroft's fifth solo album. It was recorded with Adam Phillips (guitar), Anthony Gorry (keyboards), Steve Sidelnyk (drums), and Damon Minchella (bass), and produced by Richard Ashcroft and longtime collaborator, Chris Potter, with string arrangements by Will Malone.
The first single from the album, "This Is How It Feels," is available from today to download from Amazon UK and iTunes UK, stream on Spotify, and can also be previewed below or on Vevo. More details will be posted as they become available. Richard Ashcroft's website is now live.