20 October 2008

Third time a charm for Verve?

British rock quartet The Verve, known almost as much for their in-band turmoil and spats as they are for hits such as Lucky Man and Bittersweet Symphony, did what many considered almost the impossible in 2007: they reunited.

But with a new album Forth under their belt and touring for most of 2008, bassist Simon Jones says that the newness feel of the group getting back together after more than a decade still hasn't worn off.

"It still feels like a pleasure, a real great thing still, the fact that it's given us another chance and opportunity" Jones says from London in late September, a day after the group recorded b-sides for the next single. "I think it's to be savoured and held onto dearly. I'm not flippant about it and have never taken it for granted. It still feels new, fresh and exciting definitely."

Following solo work and other projects by members that didn't really make commercially successful dents, including albums by singer Richard Ashcroft, the band -- Jones, Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe and drummer Peter Salisbury -- entered a studio in June 2007 to see if the magic was still there. It was, resulting in The Verve agreeing that a new studio album was not just a pipe dream.

"We didn't have the weight of signing a massive contract with a record company for loads of albums," Jones says. "We kind of knew it was just one record. So I don't think we had pressure, it was too much of a joyful experience to be honest."

"It was just a pure release of emotion, just a real cathartic thing to go in there and record. We set our own standards in terms of what we wanted to do and what we set out to do with the record and we achieved that really." Probably one obstacle The Verve faced was trying to take what Jones estimates to be about "50 jams" and transform them into an album."

Forth, released in late August, is highlighted by the single Love Is Noise and the winding Noise Epic, the latter Jones deems to be a great driving track. "We did end up with too much material," he says. "It was splurging everything onto tape and then sitting down, listening to the roots of it, choosing the best of it and having a general consensus about what material we're going to work on."

"Even in the mastering stages, we were wondering what ones we were going to leave off." "We can't have an album with 15 tracks on it, especially when some of them get up to six and seven minutes long. It's not necessarily which is a standout track, it's what makes the album work as a whole."

So far The Verve, who toured North America earlier this year, have managed to make the most of the second chance despite constant speculation from British music magazines that another split or breakup is imminent. "We've created that through our past history, so that's never really going to go away," Jones says with a laugh. "The V Festival (in Britain) was taking place and the promoter was on the phone, 'Is the band going to show up?'

"We are quite a tumultuous band and we've had our moments definitely. We just know that we're four strong fellows and people are going to write about our past and so be it. As long as we know what's going on that's all that matters." Following this summer's festival circuit in Europe, the band considered doing another leg of shows, but have put those on hold until next year when a second North American leg begins. "We've been taking it step-by-step as opposed to looking at a calendar and knowing that it's been booked up for the year," Jones says.

"We're not the type of band that can go out on the road for a year without any stops. We've learned a lot from our past not to burn out this time because that's really what it has come down to in the past."

Source: Jason Macneil, Sun Media, Jam! Entertainment