08 July 2010

Richard Ashcroft interview with Shortlist Magazine

Never one to hold back when there are angry proclamations to be made, Richard Ashcroft sets his sights on talent-crushing record companies, endless musical collaborations and critics of his new band. ShortList braces itself.

You’ve got a debut album coming out with your new band RPA & The United Nations Of Sound — is it business as usual or have you done something differently?

I went out to New York to work with a hip-hop producer called No ID. He describes [the finished album] as “the cake”. He said, “What type of cake do you want?” and I came with a lot of ingredients — I had a hard drive full of ideas. Bittersweet Symphony is pretty much a hip-hop song, so I knew working with No ID would take [my music] to another level.

How do you feel looking back at the Nineties — your most successful period?

I can’t stand nostalgia. I find it very empty. The big critical maulings of my tour [with RPA & The United Nations Of Sound] were the night in London when I did Bittersweet Symphony and [they said] “Richard Ashcroft had to go into his back catalog.” I hadn’t even rehearsed it, but the bassist DW loves the song, he’s known it all his f*cking life and if he wants to f*cking play it, why not?

So does that mean The Verve have now disbanded for good?

I can’t see any reason why, after headlining Glastonbury, headlining Coachella, headlining in Japan and making an album that’s better than 99 per cent of other bands’ albums, The Verve would come back together. [Our 2008 reunion] was more reassuring for our audience than a nice tidy situation. The personalities are who we are, so sh*t happens.

You’re friends with the Gallagher brothers — how are they both doing since Noel left Oasis?

I spoke to Noel a couple of days ago. He’s going to go through similar questions to the ones I went through in 2000 [after The Verve split]. But he wrote the songs in the biggest band of the Nineties, so he’s got nothing to worry about. It’ll be a new lease of life for both of them. I’m quite excited.

Any chance of a collaboration between you and Noel?

No, which is a shame. But now you see someone’s album coming out and there are 15 different people on it. The younger generation, like the Dizzees, are getting into ‘Top Trumps’ music — “I’m going to Top Trump you with how many guests I’ve got.”

Isn’t that because it’s more difficult for artists to be successful now?

I don’t know if it’s necessarily difficult to be successful, but it is for the record companies to give you a chance. Artistically, The Verve hit the right buttons, but as a band we only made a major profit on the third album. People won’t stick around now. You can’t run a record label with shareholder meetings. It’s about investing in people you truly believe in and hoping one of them is going to have creative success. I’ve always said Britain’s got talent, but it hasn’t got that much talent or there would have been 15 bands like The Beatles and 10 like the Sex Pistols. There’s only one John Lennon and only one John Lydon. There’s a blueprint now and it’s very boring. People get on their campaigns, but not everyone’s going to be like Lily Allen. Bless her, she’s good at what she does and she’s everywhere. But if you’re an artist, you’ll find it difficult because there are so many people willing to do anything to promote their fame.

United Nations Of Sound is released on 19 July
  • Source: Shortlist Magazine