The Verve Pipe | No Longer Freshmen

prev_verve_sm.jpg"It’s been less about playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, meeting women and getting drunk and more about good quality songs and telling other people’s stories."







It’s 1996. Flannel is the fabric of choice, the Bulls are in their prime and Clinton is up for re-election. The Verve Pipe’s breakout song "The Freshman" hits #1 on the charts and becomes a part of the distinctive 90s rock sound in the same vein as the Gin Blossoms, Third Eye Blind and Eagle Eye Cherry. The rest is history or VH1 "I Love the 90s" fodder.

Fast-forward 11 years. It’s 2007. Uggs are a fashion staple, the Bulls suck, and George W. Bush is in office. The Verve Pipe is also back in action. On hiatus since their last studio album Underneath in 2001, the band is back and ready for action. They are older, wiser and more focused on the music.

prev_verve-pipe.jpg"It’s been less about playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, meeting women and getting drunk and more about good quality songs and telling other people’s stories," lead singer and front man Brian Vander Ark said.

With "The Freshman" immortalized in virtually every high school graduation video today, it’s no wonder that the song and the band have such a cult following. With regard to the song, Vander Ark said, "Before we even got signed, when we first wrote the song, I noticed people were singing along…so I knew I had something back then, because we’ve all been a freshman at one point, whether it be college or high school."

Influenced by a variety of sounds from James Taylor to Queen, the Verve Pipe released two albums on their own before signing with RCA Records in 1995. After three RCA albums and a couple of hit tracks, including "Photograph" and "Never Let You Down," the Verve Pipe was dropped by RCA. Vander Ark enjoyed Internet success with his two solo albums, Angel Put Your Face On and Resurrection.

"I don’t really see a need for major labels anymore," he said. "I really don’t. I think distribution is the key and I think the Internet is the key; I think everybody is going to be giving away music for free eventually. I’ll do it myself when I can afford it, when I have enough people come to my shows."

As much as Vander Ark enjoys life as a solo artist, he is looking forward to getting back with the guys for this tour.

"Honestly, I don’t know if it’s so much old times as it is something new. I’ve played so many shows on my own now that it’s nice just plugging in and playing with the guys I grew up playing with," he said.

Since the tour is not in support of an upcoming album or anything of that sort, Vander Ark said, "It’s much easier to go out now and play the songs that we wrote years ago and to be able to bring new energy and life to them, instead of trying to bash new songs down people’s throats, especially people who just came to hear ‘The Freshmen’ and ‘Photograph.’"

While the Verve Pipe is not putting out a full-length album anytime soon, they have released a Christmas EP, A Homemade Holiday, this year. The album contains some familiar Christmas songs along with an original Christmas song that Donny Brown, the Verve Pipe’s drummer, wrote.

The Verve Pipe wraps up a short tour at the VooDoo Lounge in St. Louis Dec. 27. The tour, according to the band’s publicist, is testing the waters for a larger tour in the future. Vander Ark said he’d welcome that opportunity—as long as it doesn’t conflict with his solo tour in support of his new album due out in January. "It would be great, because I love doing both [my solo project and the Verve Pipe]. It would be wonderful, but I have three months of shows booked for February, March, and April. After that, a summer tour would be great." | Katie Herring

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