Members of The Verve Pipe haven’t been home in East Lansing, Mich., since early January and the road toll is clearly heard in bassist Brad Vander Ark’s voice.
He is tired and unenergetic, but amazingly, after less than a week in his own quarters during a Fourth of July break, he is equally bored.
“It takes you like three or four days to get used to not being on the road, and by then you’re ready to go back out there,” Vander Ark said recently. “I’ve just been watching TV and staying in the apartment most of the time. Basically, I’ve done nothing, which is fine by me.”
The best part was getting a respite from bandmates A.J. Dunning (guitar), Doug Corella (keyboards/percussion), Danny Brown (drums) and Brad’s brother, Brian (lead vocals, guitar).
“As long as we didn’t have to see each other that week,” Brad said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that bad, really. I mean, on the road you have a big bus and if you get sick of somebody you can stay away from them by hiding in the back for a while. It’s just little things, and they just aren’t a big deal. Luckily, our friendships haven’t changed.”
Of course, that break didn’t last long: The Verve Pipe is back on the road in support of its RCA debut album, “Villains,” which has sold more than 100,000 copies. And as massive airplay for the first single (“Photograph”) wanes, a new single (“Cup of Tea”) waits in the wings.
It’s easy for Vander Ark to pinpoint the band’s peaks and valleys for the first half of 1996.
“There was a week or so at the end there that was really hectic for us,” he said. “There was one particular day where we were in Sacramento for a show in the early afternoon, then we had to fly to Portland (Ore.), played there later in the afternoon, then flew back to L.A. That was kind of tough. Every once in a while you have something like that.”
The high point was seeing the freshly cosmeticized Kiss performing at the annual Wienie Roast in Los Angeles.
“Their tour actually started in Detroit, but the Wienie Roast was their first one with the makeup back on,” Vander Ark said. “We were all going crazy. They had everything, all the pyrotechnics. It was pretty awesome. We all grew up listening to them. That’s our generation.”
The excitement is back in his voice when he says that The Verve Pipe may play a few dates on the “Kiss and Make-Up” tour this year.
BWF (before we forget): Patience finally paid off for The Verve Pipe in 1997, with the third single, “The Freshmen,” reaching No. 5 on Billboard’s pop chart and going gold, while the album went platinum and peaked at No. 24.
More updates: Joe Henry, Marcus King, Lily Kershaw, Poliça, Sarah Brightman, Jerry Leger, Simple Minds, Grateful Dead, etc