Selected by Dan
|Photo by Creativeman
If ever anyone looked the part of a rock
star, ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft is it. His long, lanky bad boy affectation,
leather-jacket-and-jeans and insouciant attitude have been everywhere recently, on the
strength of his new solo debut album Alone With Everybody and attendant single
"C' Everybody." On two evenings in October, Tokyo fans get a chance to judge
whether Ashcroft sounds as good as he looks.
While Ashcroft - who has been called "the human spliff" - is sitting pretty now,
things didn't come easy for the Wigan, UK native. Losing his father at age 11, nearly
losing his mind at age 20, and losing the band that brought him international stardom
twice no less, Ashcroft seems to have lived several lifetimes already in his 28 years.
Forming The Verve after meeting four former schoolmates in the unemployment benefits line
in 1990, Richard Ashcroft was already telling people "You better remember me - you
better remember Richard Ashcroft," at the age of 14.
OK, he's got a rock star-sized ego, but how about the talent to go with it? The answer,
grudgingly, has to be yes. The Verve's second album, A Northern Soul issued in
1995, gave some indication. Anchored by the hypnotic, melancholic "History"
single, the album was suffused with the torn relationships and drug psychoses that were to
tear the band apart the same year.
But The Verve were not to remain apart for long. "To me, being in a band at this
level is a test of your strength as individuals, and we weren't ready for it before,"
Ashcroft comments on his website about the breakup and reformation. "We just weren't
strong enough. Now I believe we are."
The Verve reformed in 1997, releasing Urban Hymns, which went on to become the
UK's fifth-best selling album in history thanks to the powerful single "Bitter Sweet
Symphony." But they were not to remain together for long, and split up again in 1998
following guitarist Nick McCabe's decision not to complete their US tour.
Taking time out to get married to former Spiritualized keyboardist Kate Radley and become
a father, Ashcroft returned to the studio to record Alone With Everybody. While
the songs reflect his new positive feelings about where he is at the moment, the
album-with its layered arrangements-is still very much in The Verve vein.
Ashcroft, it seems, hasn't lost any of the fire. "I want to make music that makes
people cry, or elevates people to a different place," he explained in a recent
interview in The Guardian. "I think it has to do that. That's why so much
music makes you actually feel ill. And there's nothing depressing about it, nothing wrong
with it. Look at any poetry. Poetry from 300 years ago. What do you think they were
talking about? What do you think man's been talking about since he had the words to
express it? Before that? Love, life, death, quest for happiness, misery, war..."
plays Zepp Tokyo on October 18 and 23. See listings