21 April 2008

Coming Verve Album Aims at Epic Greatness

Richard Ashcroft, frontman for British band the Verve, once declared that the Verve were the world's greatest rock band. It was evident that even if they weren't, they certainly believed it. Now, as the newly reformed band prepares to tour and release their first album since 1997, bassist Simon Jones made it clear that the Verve want more than to be the greatest band on Earth: They want their place in the upper echelons of musical greatness "with the Who, the Kinks, the Beatles."

"A classic British band-that's all we've ever wanted to be really," said Jones. Arguably, they already are one. Their last album, Urban Hymns, all but solidified their status as one of the decade's greatest bands after "Bitter Sweet Symphony" shot all the way to number two on the UK singles charts. However, despite the Verve's prior success, Jones believes this record will be their legacy as a band.

"Having just finished the record, in my head, it's the best record we've ever made," he said. "We're better than we ever were as far as I'm concerned. This is an amazing record, and it will blow people's minds." But inevitably, the latest addition to the Verve's short catalogue will be compared to early albums, especially Urban Hymns. Jones acknowledged that it was difficult mustering enough energy to top what many call the apex of the band's career.

"The prospect of making a record after Urban Hymns is very daunting. I think now we're all mentally where you've got the enthusiasm like it's your first record all over again."

Jones spoke about the new album with palpable excitement. He made it clear that the album is in a class of its own, though it does include characteristics of their other albums.

"It's definitely got elements of A Storm in Heaven, definitely got elements of A Northern Soul, definitely got elements of Urban Hymns � It's got jams, it's got songs, it's got epicness to it. It's got everything that people expect a Verve record to sound like," he explained.

Jones also addressed other issues, namely the Verve's past conflicts and their multiple break-ups. Despite a rocky history, Jones hopes that the Verve will continue to make music, though he did entertain the possibility that it might be their last work. "Hopefully it's not and everything's going to be fine and we'll carry on forever," Jones said. "But who knows with this band. We're all strong individuals." He did note that this time around, the Verve now have had a chance to learn from the past and said that their fame was a "kind of surreal thing we weren't ready for."

"I think the main thing is to learn from our mistakes and what happened last time with Urban Hymns and the amount of pressure that was put on the band and the amount of touring we had to do."

Jones said that this new album currently has no name but will likely be released some time around August. The Verve began mixing the album last week and will listen to mixes while they are on their U.S tour, which kicks off at San Francisco's Warfield on April 24. Above all else, Jones stressed how great it is to be touring again and playing with the Verve, describing the experience in the only manner he could. "Playing these songs is pure abandonment," he said enthusiastically.

And for Verve fans everywhere, listening to them will be exactly that.

Article: Rajesh Srinivasan, The Daily Californian