23 March 1994

Verve Fanclub Letter

We know, we know, we know. It's been ages and maybe we didn't love you quite as often as we could have, but believe us, you were always on our minds. So what's happened in the months since you wrote? Well didn't we see you a couple of times?

First off there was the tour around Europe with the Smashing Pumpkins, that was superb, even if the tour manager did sneakily miss out Amsterdam for fear of losing us forever to the free sex and general narcosis readily available in Sin City. Still, he's dust now. The British part was especially cool. James Iha from the Pumpkins bought Richard a fetching butterfly design "blouse" in Cambridge. Glasgow was wild as ever, and at the Brixton Academy show the complete London mee-ja guest list was stuck outside for our complete set while the bouncers acted as bouncers do. So for once security guards of the capital, we salute you. Some fold who did get in, said we blew the Pumpkins off-stage, but we say, what goes on in the dressing room after is our own affair.

After that we decided to go to America. Why? Well isn't it every bands dream to one day play the Reptile House in Grand Rapids, Missouri? No, actually we played in New York a couple of times before and LA once back in July, and since we had a good 1,000 fans on each coast we'd figure we'd go back and capture the hearts, minds and disposable incomes of the 220 million in between.

After the festivals with the Pumpkins in Europe it was something of a surreal experience to find yourself performing in a University burger bar to a couple of hundred masticating students. Still, they're dust now. But it wasn't all fun and games. Earlier in New York City. there had been some hard partying needing some urgent attention. Funny that for a band staring down the long tunnel of 6 weeks in a bus bunk, only 2 people out of 8 (including DJ superstar Wayne Griggs and future Verve cover star Andy Burke) made it back to the only hotel they were guaranteed whole trip. Oh, and Pete says "Hello Michiko". The New York. gig was smart, with the fortifying powers of Absolute vodka utilized to the max. Thereafter America got a bit surreal with an endless succession of "walk-throughs" (whereby a band is encouraged to "walk-though" the local record store and say "Hi!" to staff who seem as bewildered as us by the experience); some cool/some terrible acoustic radio sessions, ("So, Wigan? Is that near Man-chester?" Arghh!); and requests to play "retail conventions" (another arcane piece of American "marketing" where by bands discard and shred of dignity to perform to drunk and disinterested industry lackeys out on the razz). These were politely but firmly declined.

Tool came to see us in LA. and asked us to play with them sometime. Matt Johnson was there too, and so were the people who organized Lollapalooza (the massive, rolling US festival), which is how come we're going to be on this year's festival (of which, more later). We met lots of brilliant people in America - (and Damon from Blur as well) - not least of whom were our support band and yummy Hut label mates Acetone. Some things can't be expressed in words, but thanks you Richie, Mark and Steve. You guys...

I'll tell you what you really feel like doing after a six week tour of America: another tour! So a week later, in early December, we were back touring Britain. This was, if anything, better than the Pumpkins dates. People at every gig were brilliant. We had a better light show, and could play longer sets, and , after the US tour, we felt bang on the button. Thanks if you came along and sorry if you came to Sheffield, it was the night after our party and was the only dodgy one on the tour.
That took us up to Christmas and next thing after that was writing the next record. All of January was spent writing and rehearsing, in fact rehearsing is our way of writing. And out of these many hours have emerged 12 songs towards another album. These we played on a short tour of Europe on late February, which was constructed around a bizarre live appearance on German national T.V. At the moment, "Mover" looks like it may one day shape up as a single, but we'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, last week disaster struck and all our plans of U.S. tours and recording singles had to be shelved when drummer Pete bust his ankle really badly. He'd gotten up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water in the house he and Simon had just moved into. But, being unfamiliar with the layout of the house, he walked into a picture frame leant against the wall which came crashing down on his poor ankle. Now plaster for ten weeks and may have to have metal pins put in it FOREVER. So, bang goes the gig set for June 10th at Clapham Grand and all the US dates prior to Lollapalooza except for one gig in LA and one in San Francisco in late June. Sorry.

We got to do 2 dates on Lollapalooza in New York last year on an unannounced basis, and with our 2nd stage PA fighting a losing battle with Rage Against the Machine on the main stage. This year things look better organized and we're going to be sharing top billing on the 2nd stage with the superb Flaming Lips. With Nirvana, the Pumpkins, the Beastie Boys and Breeders, all confirmed for the main stage, maybe you should think no about stowing away on the QE2 or something. Whatever, we'll let you know the finalized dates as soon as they're, er, finalized.

What else? Oh, yes, our American record company Vernon Yard is compiling lots of unavalable-in-the USA. type material on a "B-sides and out-takes" CD to be called "No Come Down". Brian Cannon, our trusty sleeve wizard (recently also poached by Suede), has again come up trumps, with a shot of our specially-customized pinball machine. The package is pretty lavish, and while, if you're a completist you're likely to have much of my material, there will be a never before heard acoustic version of "Butterfly" to be had. Full track listing for the "No Come Down" U.S. compilation is likely to be: No Come Down, Blue (American remix), Make It 'Til Monday (acoustic), 6 O'Clock, Where The Geese Go, Butterfly (acoustic), One Way To Go, Twilight and Gravity Grave (live at Glastonbury 1993).

Speaking of pesky Americans, brace yourself for calling us The Verve, can't say anything further now, but if you've ever mistaken a Verve record for a jazz album on the Verve label then Poly Gram may have a point, otherwise we'd be inclined to think there's a lot of very bored American lawyers out there with nothing better to do.

THE VERVE IS RISING (172 Arlington Road, London NW1 7HL)
  • Written by Verve, March 1994