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Interview:
The Verve Pipe at Otus Supply, 5 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Michigan's Verve Pipe quietly will turn 25 next year -- something that's snuck up on frontman and co-founder Brian Vander Ark.

"It doesn't feel like 25 years, that's for sure," he notes.

Vander Ark has had plenty of other things to occupy his creative thoughts, anyway. The Verve Pipe's most successful album, "Villains," and its hit "The Freshmen" had its own birthday this year -- 20, with the band playing a few full-album shows to commemorate it. Meanwhile, the group has recorded a new studio album, "Parachute," which comes out Feb. 17 along with "Villains -- Live & Acoustic," which was recorded in Ann Arbor.

Vander Ark has also teamed with Jeff Daniels -- who co-wrote "Overboard," the title track of the last Verve Pipe album -- for a set called "Simple Truths," which will be out early next year. And he to work on another kid-friendly set to follow 2009's "A Family Album."

The Verve Pipe -- playing the inaugural concert this weekend at Otus Supply in Ferndale -- was once considered the little band that could out of East Lansing. And clearly, as it approaches its silver anniversary, it still can...

Vander Ark, 52, acknowledges by phone that the Verve Pipe's impending anniversary snuck on him and his bandmates. "It doesn't feel like 25 years, that's for sure, although sometimes it does seem like forever," he says. "I mean, we were kids arguing about what the name was going to be, y'know? We didn't have our (act) together, and the arguments over the years...We followed every single cliche imaginable. All of us have watched the 'Behind The Musics,' all of us knew what was coming and we all just went right with it and did everything everybody else does."

Vander Ark recently finished a book about the band that he hopes to publish in the new year. "It's my 10th rewrite or something; Now we're just working on little things, grammatical things, that kind of stuff," he says. "I was really always thinking of new things ot put in there, and wondering what people care about. Do people care about the lyrics of a song they haven't heard? I mean, we're not the (Rolling) Stones; How do you make the story interesting?"

Reflecting on "Villains" this year has been interesting, according to Vander Ark, especially flashing back to the Verve Pipe's big Rock Star moment with a platinum album and a Top 5 single in "The Freshmen." "Those songs, they document where I was, where I was in my life 20 years ago, so it's crazy," he explains. "Reading those lyrics, it's like, 'Oh yeah, I wrote a song called 'Penny Is POison' for a girl who broke my heart in 1989' or something. So it really is a document of where I was, and you think, 'Thank God I got out of that and grew up.' But I thing those songs are still good and still hold up. We didn't do, like, 'I'm Too Sexy' or anything like that, y'know?"

The group's "Parachute" album will collect the monthly singles it's been releasing during the past year or so, along wtih two new songs done especially for the set. "It's an extension of 'Overboard,' maybe a little more rockin'," Vander Ark says. "It's more acoustic rock, lots of harmonies. We have some new members and they're definitely felt on this record."

Vander Ark is also looking forward to putting out the "Simple Truths" collaboration with Daniels. "It's a dozen songs, an album of stories, Michigan stories," he says. "Both of us stuck to this whole Michigan theme and went in and worked on each other's songs. It's a really stripped-down production, a bit of alt.country twang to it. The emphasis is really on the writing, and (Daniels) is a great writer. I don't know how many people realize that, but he's really good and so are the songs."

The Verve Pipe

Saturday, Dec. 17. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale.

Tickets are $25.

Visit otussupply.com.


Web Site: www.otussupply.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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