12 September 2008

So what really happened to Simon Tong?

THE VERVE reformed without guitarist SIMON TONG in part to keep the internal issues that split the band up a decade ago to an absolute minimum.

Bassist Simon Jones admits he contacted Tong to inform him he wouldn't be a part of the reunion in an effort to avoid any unpleasantness.

And Jones insists his pal understood why he wouldn't be a part of the band's comeback.

The bass player tells WENN, "It was the four of us that started it off; Simon was in another band. He came into the band when Nick (MCCabe) wasn't there... because we didn't have a guitarist. When Nick came back, it was like, 'We can't kick Si out,' so he stayed.

"When we were putting the band back together we wanted to go back to the core members. I talked to Si on the phone about what was going on... There was no dodginess.

He was cool with it, he understood... He would have liked to have been a part of it but he understood the reasons, fundamentally, so there was no bad feelings."

But Jones admits he and his bandmates feared that adding another strong personality to the famously temperamental band would lead to a short-lived reunion: "It would have been too hard, it's hard enough for the four of us. If you bring more people to it, it's harder to communicate and communication has always been our difficulty."

So far so good for the four-piece, but Jones claims the distance between them helps: "We don't have to see each other every night; it doesn't have to be like it was for the first record, we don't have to go to the pub together and we don't have to be in each others' pockets. "Actually, when we are in each others' pockets, it's to the detriment of the band. It's a more mature approach. It's not like when we lived in Wigan and we all had a house together and experimented with drugs together. We're protecting the band this time and not letting it f**k up."