01 November 1993

Verve in Raygun Magazine #11

You can't dream your own death. She had heard that once and it stuck. But what about after, could you dream about that? If not, then this was no dream. Whatever, it was nice Not nice, though, not exactly--there was too much going on. A benign turbulence swirled, like a hurricane of crashing...but not crashing...floating. A Daliesque winter scene paperweight. Powerful; almost awesome. Only she wasn't scared. This had to be heaven--where else would fear be obsolete. She could charge the maelstrom--plunge in the way genteel hedonists hit a jacuzzi--and emerge unscathed. Like a cartoon character. Like an angel.

Did she forget to mention the music? How could she? She was immersed in it, infused with it, as well. It corresponded directly to the scene as she saw it. The music had presence, yet was intangible. Was it made by an orchestra of mist and light? Or was it entirely internal--the music her head wanted to hear. This storm in heaven; if it were ever recorded, that's what it would be called: A Storm In Heaven.

She tended to analyze. Sometimes it served, but she became aware that this wasn't one of those times--she could ponder this thing to pieces, and then it would be gone. So she stopped questioning and then heard an answer. "I don't know what we're doing. I don't know what this music is. I just know that we can do it."

There he was--he was just there. He had the mouth of a cherub, bitten and lush. Beyond that, there was nothing seraphic to his countenance. No halo, no wings, and his hair and eyes were wild. Though he seemed to be seated beside her, a cool, bright gale blew up, parting a curtain of cloud to show a small stage not far away, and he was there, too, on the stage. On the stage, he was, for lack of a better word, singing. Three other less-than-angelic looking young men surrounded him, and they were playing their instruments, or their instruments were playing them.

Richard Ashcroft was his name, and the band was called Verve. She knew this the way one just knows things. Looking at the stage again, she wandered over Verve. "My role in the show is just to interpret what the rest of the band are playing," Richard continued, not that she had formally inquired, "That's my job."

How could he be in two places at once? "I'm just a spokesman for the band," he said, as [tidy] explanation. "They're not especially interested in carving a niche for them- selves as stars. They want to progress and become more creative and surprise people at how good they can be without being 'too' good because they're like me, they don't know....A lot of times, I'll go to rehearsal, and they'll start a song, and it won't be finished for two hours. This love of live music is what we thrive on."

On a few occasions in her own work, she felt as though she wasn't really doing any- thing; she was an apparatus merely typing, not writing and the best stuff always came from those trance like states. Maybe it was like that for Verve. "The only time structure comes into it is when we actually press play and record," Richard said, so she knew then that there was, indeed, a record A Storm In Heaven. "Sometimes, we'll rearrange certain things, but 80 percent of it is improvised. The music and the lyrics." Richard nodded toward the stage. "The songs might collapse one night, and the second night, it can go somewhere extraordinary." He shrugged. "It's a risk."

Though the voice in her ear was calm, unhurried, there was sighing, ranting, raving Richard on stage. She looked at [Richard] more closely, tilting her head to the left and scrunching her brows as she does, and realized that the spokesman and the singer were, in fact, not the same. "It's a totally different person; it's not me," Richard readily agreed. "It's a mirror image of my lifestyle, but it goes into someplace completely-different when we play. It's like a chemical change." "A natural chemical change? Or is it...enhanced?" she asked outright.

Richard laughed, surprisingly heartily, for one who looked so frail, and smiled to go with it. "It varies," he replied. "Some nights it's enhanced, some nights it's not. If drugs there to be used and take it further, they will be, and if they're not, the natural feeling of music is as high as I've ever been. When the band is all working together, and the crowd is reacting to it, there's no drug that compares to it."

She smiled, but she wasn't mocking him, she didn't even smile in response to what he said. Rather, it was this--for lack of a better word--song (she knew it was called "Butterfly" the way one just knows things) making her feel particularly pleasant. "I'm trying to convey emotion, and if you find something move inside you, that's the whole point, " Richard said, adding that he'd like Verve's music to be considered, "a friend, a companion--it should give you images and emotions. It's open-ended."
  • RayGun Magazine # 11, November 1993, Swervedriver cover, written by Nina Malkin