The Verve Pipe’s frontman opens up about band’s evolution
Since coming on the alt-rock scene in 1992, The Verve Pipe has always been known for its spectacular live performances and has released a number of radio hits, including “Photograph,” “Hero” and “The Freshman.”
The Michigan-based band released two new albums over the last year — the studio album, “Parachute,” and the live album, “Villains — Live & Acoustic.”
Founded by frontman Brian Vander Ark, today’s lineup also includes Lou Musa on lead guitar, Randy Sly on keyboards, Joel Ferguson on bass, Sam Briggs on drums, Channing Lee as backing vocals and Craig Griffith on harmonica.
The Verve Pipe will be playing the Fairfield Theatre Company’s StageOne on Jan. 17. Vander Ark took time out of the band’s busy tour schedule to talk with us about the upcoming show.
Keith Loria: What can those coming to FTC expect from the band?
Brian Vander Ark: We’ll play three to four songs off of the Parachute album, and then a lot of the songs that people like off of Villains, mostly acoustic, and we’ll be sure to play all the songs that we know people want to hear. Most of the concentration is on material that we are known for.
KL: 2017 was a big year for The Verve Pipe with the release of a new album and your first-ever live record. How will you top that in 2018?
BVA: Last year was really successful for us. We released a song per month on social media and we got a lot of the old following back. The new album has been going really great thanks to that. We’re going to do the same thing this year, releasing a song per month and then putting an LP out at the end of the year. We’ll also be getting back into touring, which we haven’t done in a while.
BVA: We’re like a lot of the bands from the ’90s who are trying to maintain a presence out there and being able to perpetuate a life in music by releasing new stuff and that’s what we’re trying to do.
KL: Do you ever get tired with playing the same songs night after night? What’s the secret for keeping things fresh on stage?
BVA: We keep ourselves interested by changing things up as far as arrangements, so we’re not bored with our own material.
KL: How have you grown as a songwriter?
BVA: When I look back at the songwriting of my first two albums (“I’ve Suffered a Head Injury” and “Pop Smear”), I’m not that big a fan. When you first start out, things are really metaphoric and poetic and very ambiguous. I’ve been able to hone my craft down to being simpler and saying what I mean and finding more interesting ways to present that.
BVA: There was no expectation to do anything else. I didn’t anticipate there would be anything else for me. I knew I would have to find a way to make a living, and if that meant playing at the Holiday Inn Lodge for the rest of my life, I would have done that. I didn’t necessarily think I would be a rockstar, I just wanted to play music and have a nice house and have a family.
KL: In 2009 you put out the first of two family-centric records. How did that come about?
BVA: I had young kids and was inspired by their shenanigans, so I thought, ‘why not put out a kid’s record that has four-part harmonies and big Queen-like rock guitar solos?’ stuff that parents could listen to. Putting out this music was the best thing to happen to this band. We became musical again, thinking about instrumentation and it got the creative juices flowing.
KL: How have you changed through the years?
BVA: If you look to the ’90s, when all of the success happened, it was a huge ego boost and I had an enormous ego. I thought I was King of the World and we would last forever — the same pitfalls that everyone falls into. Now, I’m 53 and I just want to be able to play music and be able to send my kids to a nice school.