What the English rock quartet Longpigs has been through the past few years would sever most bands.

Guitarist Richard Hawley said perseverance and a bit of bloody madness kept them together after a series of calamities, including a near-fatal collision involving their tour van and an 18-wheel truck. The accident put lead singer Crispin Hunt in a coma for three days.

At the time, they were signed to Elektra U.K. When Warner folded its Elektra office in London shortly after the accident, the group’s debut album fell by the wayside three weeks before the release of its first single. While the legal minds wrangled over the album’s fate, the group pretended it had disbanded and went into seclusion.

When the dust finally settled, the Longpigs signed with Mother Records, the label co-owned by U2 and their manager, Paul McGuinness. Their long-lost album, “THE SUN iS OfTEN oUT,” was retooled and a few new tracks were added and was greeted as a breath of Brit-pop air by the normally jaded U.K. music media. Their single, “She Said,” was voted the top single of 1996 by the popular “TFI” British TV show.

Then finally came the album’s Island-distributed stateside release on Feb. 25. Critics praised it, but the public heard very little of it. That is, until the ballad “On and On” (which first appeared on the “Mission: Impossible” film soundtrack) magically surfaced on alternative-rock radio stations several months ago. It finally landed this week in the Top 20 on Billboard’s modern rock tracks chart.

“It’s weird how things work out like that,” Hawley said during a recent stop on the Longpigs’ monthlong U.S. tour with the Dandy Warhols. “We haven’t quite let go of the tiger’s tail for a year now. We toured extensively through England and Europe and we’re just now doing the same in the states.

“Through it all, we always believed it deserved this kind of success.”

With the bulk of “THE SUN iS OfTEN oUT” nearly three years old, Hawley said he, Hunt and bassist Simon Stafford and drummer Dee Boyle (formerly of Cabaret Voltaire) are anxious to get into the studio to record new material, but they are willing to ride out the album’s popularity.

“Because of the continuing success of the record, you become a victim of your own success, in a way,” Hawley said. “People are still playing it, so there’s no time to get in and record. We’ve just been pretty much touring constantly for two and a half years now.”

That work ethic scored well with the British media, who view the Longpigs as underdogs, Hawley said.

“We want to remain that way,” he said, laughing. “It’s sort of the secret of our success.”

Respect and longevity are what the group is after, he said.

“People see right through the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am attitude,” Hawley said of one-hit wonders. “We don’t want to do something that’s going to be here today, gone tomorrow. A lot of music we’re influenced by, a lot of ideas we’re influenced by, are the things that have been around for a long time … from doo-wop to John Coltrane to Velvet Underground and David Bowie. Those are the people we respect.”

BWF (before we forget): Fans can send e-mail to longpigUS@aol.com.