The Verve (originally Verve) are a British rock band formed in Wigan, Greater Manchester in 1989 at Winstanley Sixth Form College, by vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones, and drummer Peter Salisbury. Simon Tong later became a member. The band split in April 1999 due to inner conflicts which led to McCabe\'s departure. The band\'s original line-up reunited in June 2007. The band embarked on a tour in late 2007 and released Forth in August 2008.
Beginning with a psychedelic sound indebted to shoegazing and space rock, by the mid-1990s the band had released several EPs and two acclaimed records. They also endured name and lineup changes, breakups, health problems, drug abuse and various lawsuits. The band\'s commercial breakthrough was the album Urban Hymns and its single \"Bitter Sweet Symphony\", which became a massive worldwide hit. Soon after this commercial peak, the band broke up, citing creative struggles between band members. By then, The Verve had become one of the most influential British alternative rock acts of the decade.
Mike Gee of iZINE said, \"...The Verve, as he (Richard Ashcroft) promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the cliché. They were the statement and the definition.\"
Formation and Verve EP (19891992)
Verve formed when the group met at Winstanley Sixth Form College, Wigan Metropolitan Borough, Greater Manchester, in 1989. Led by singer Richard Ashcroft, the band caused a buzz in early 1991 for its ability to captivate audiences with its musical textures and avant-garde sensibilities.
The group were signed by Hut Records in 1991 and their first studio releases in 1992, \"All In The Mind\", \"She\'s a Superstar\", and \"Gravity Grave\" (along with the December 1992 Verve EP) saw the band become a critical success, making an impression with freeform guitar work by McCabe and unpredictable vocals by Ashcroft. Those first 3 singles reached the first spot in the UK Indie charts. And She\'s A Superstar did enter the UK Top 75 Singles Chart. The band saw some support from these early days in the United States in some music scenes in big cities like New York connected with psychedelic music.
A Storm In Heaven (19931994)
1993\'s A Storm In Heaven, the band\'s full-length debut, produced by esteemed record producer John Leckie (of Radiohead, The Stone Roses, XTC and The Fall fame), was a critical smash, but was only a moderate commercial success, reaching #27 in the UK album chart that summer.
\"Blue\" was released as the lead single and again managed to enter in the UK Top 75 at 69 and reached number 2 in the Indie charts. The second single from the album, \"Slide Away\", topped the UK indie rock charts. The band played on the travelling U.S. alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, in the summer of 1994. They released a new mix of \"Blue\" in the US for promoting the band. The tour proved disastrous for the group, as Ashcroft was hospitalized for dehydration caused by overdosing on Ecstasy, and Salisbury was arrested for destroying a hotel room in Kansas in a drug-fuelled delirium. After the tour, the jazz label Verve Records sued the band for trademark infringement, forcing the group to officially change their name to The Verve. The first release that saw this change in name was the 1994 album No Come Down, which comprises some 1993 b-sides plus a live version of Gravity Grave performed at Glastonbury and an acoustic remake of \"Butterfly\", originally from A Storm In Heaven.
A Northern Soul and first break-up (19951996)
The turmoil continued well into the recording sessions of the follow-up album, 1995\'s A Northern Soul. The sessions started off well; McCabe even called the first three weeks of recording the happiest in his life (due to his massive intake of Ecstasy). The recording of \"History\" was notable for Ashcroft nailing the vocals in one take, and producer Owen Morris celebrating by throwing a chair through a glass door immediately afterward. However, the rampant drug use and strained relationship between Ashcroft and McCabe during the sessions, took their toll on the band. Richard Ashcroft later described the recording experience as:
\"Four intense, mad months. Really insane. In great ways and terrible ways. In ways that only good music and bad drugs and mixed emotions can make.\"
The band departed from the neo-psychedelic sounds of A Storm In Heaven and focused more on conventional alternative rock, although reminiscent of some of the early work. This can be seen in the context of the birth of the Britpop movement in England. By 1995 bands like Oasis, Blur, Pulp, and Suede ruled the charts. UK guitar-music bands were in the spotlight again. Grunge was dead in America. The Verve members, especially Ashcroft were friends with Oasis, even before they were famous (Oasis was the support act for some 1993-4 Verve gigs). And eventually the band ended up being added to the Britpop genre, or music trend. Around this period, Oasis guitarist and friend of Ashcroft, Noel Gallagher, wrote the song \"Cast No Shadow\" on the album (What\'s the Story) Morning Glory?. Although dedicated to Ashcroft, it was not written specifically about him, as is commonly misunderstood. Ashcroft returned the gesture by dedicating the song \"A Northern Soul\" to Noel. Martin Carr from The Boo Radleys is said to have a \'Northern Soul\' tattoo in recognition of his favourite album of all time.
The band released the second album in July 1995, preceded by the single \"This Is Music\" which reached #35. \"On Your Own\", and \"History\" followed and performed even better, at 28 and 24 respectively. The latter two singles were particularly new for The Verve, as they dabbled with soulful ballads. Although the album reached the UK Top 20, Richard Ashcroft broke up the band three months after its release, just before the release of the third single.
Ashcroft reunited the group just a few weeks after the breakup, but McCabe did not rejoin the lineup. The band hired former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, but he spent only a couple of days with the band. Thus, as a replacement, the band chose Simon Tong, a school friend of Ashcroft and Jones, to fill in the lead guitar duties. Tong is credited with originally teaching the two to play guitar.
Commercial success and second breakup (19961999)
Throughout 1996, Ashcroft, Jones, Salisbury, and Tong were writing songs for the upcoming album, with some recording sessions later in the year. In early 1997, Nick McCabe returned to the fold alongside Tong, 3 months into the production of the new record. With the lineup back together, the group went through a \"spiritual\" (and drug-fuelled) recording process to finish the album Urban Hymns that lasted more than 4 months in early 1997. By early summer they had finished recording their third album.
For the first time in its career, The Verve experienced widespread commercial success. Not only was the album a hit in the UK, but the band also found fame in the USA and much of the rest of the world. Single \"Bittersweet Symphony\" entered the UK charts at #2 in June 1997 and was a massive hit. The follow-up single, \"The Drugs Don\'t Work\" gave the band their first UK #1 single in September, with the album reaching the same position in the album chart a few weeks later when it was released. After that the band started an overwhelming increase in popularity overseas. Receiving significant airplay in the USA. \"Bitter Sweet Symphony\" reached #12 on the U.S. charts, the band\'s highest position ever in the USA. The album reached the US Top 30, going platinum in the process.
The song borrowed a looped sample of a symphonic recording of the Rolling Stones song \"The Last Time\". The band had obtained composition rights to the sample from ABKCO Records owner Allen Klein, which controls the Rolling Stones\' back catalogue and permission to use the recording of the sample from Decca, the publisher of the original album. Just before the CD Urban Hymns came out, Klein obtained a copy of the song and decided that the band had used \"too much\" of the sample and threatened a lawsuit. At that late time there was no way the sample could be removed, so the band and Klein came to a verbal agreement. We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split,\" said band member Simon Jones. Later, when it was apparent that the song was a worldwide hit Klein demanded 100 per cent of the royalties or they would be forced to remove the CD from stores. The band settled out of court, agreeing to give ABKCO Records 100 per cent of the songwriting royalties. Further, as a result of the lawsuit, Rolling Stones members Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were given songwriting credits. With full publishing rights to the song, ABKCO Records could legally sell licenses to advertisers and did several times. The song appeared in a Nike commercial against The Verve\'s will and then in advertisements for Vauxhall automobiles. After the song was used in the movie Cruel Intentions, The Verve filed a moral rights (copyright) suit to ensure the song was not distributed commercially anymore. The Verve is said to have not made a penny from the song.
By November the band released \"Lucky Man\" in the UK and reached #7. Both \"Lucky Man\" and \"The Drugs Don\'t Work\" received airplay elsewhere after the success of \"Bitter Sweet\" and were given extensive airplay on US rock stations. Ashcroft, sans band mates, appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in March 1998. Then, as the band was on a successful 1997-98 tour to promote the album, bassist Simon Jones collapsed on stage. This was the first of many problems to come for the band in the next months.
Also in 1998, Nick McCabe, Simon Tong, Simon Jones and drummer Leon Parr formerly with Mr. So & So and Mosque were commissioned for a soundtrack for a Jonny Lee Miller film which was recorded in Kilburn. These never made it to the final film due to delays on their part.
On 24th May of that year, the band played a homecoming concert in front of 33,000 fans in the grounds of Haigh Hall & Country Park, Aspull, supported by Beck and John Martyn. McCabe\'s last show was on 7th June at Düsseldorf-Philipshalle after a post-show bust-up left McCabe with a broken hand and Ashcroft with a sore jaw. After this, McCabe decided he couldn\'t tolerate the pressures of life on the road any longer and pulled out of the tour, leaving the band\'s future in real jeopardy, with constant rumours of disbandment circulating in the press. However, the band continued with established session guitarist B. J. Cole replacing McCabe. McCabe\'s guitar work was heavily sampled and triggered on stage. After two headline performances at the V Festivals in 1998, and one at Slane Castle in Ireland, rumours began circulating that the band had called it quits. Finally, in April 1999, it was announced that The Verve had split up.
Post-breakup activities (19992007)
By the time the band had split for the second time, Richard Ashcroft, who quit taking drugs in the early 2000s, had already been working on solo material accompanied by, among others, Salisbury and Cole. In April 2000, his first solo single, \"A Song For The Lovers\", was released and hit Number 3. He followed this with the album Alone With Everybody (June 2000) which reached Number 1 in the UK album charts. Ashcroft\'s next album Human Conditions was released to mixed reviews in October 2002, and sold poorly compared to his previous effort.
After three years of being largely absent from the music scene (though he did appear with Coldplay at Live 8 in 2005) he released Keys to the World in January 2006. This included the singles \"Break the Night with Colour\" and \"Music Is Power\" and was followed by a particularly successful tour, which included gigs as the support act for Coldplay\'s X&Y tour in North America and Europe and a homecoming gig in Manchester at the Lancashire County Cricket Club in June 2006.
After the band\'s second collapse, Simon Tong and Simon Jones formed a new group called The Shining, which initially included former Stone Roses guitarist John Squire; however Squire left the band before recording and touring had begun. The band released one album, True Skies, before disbanding in 2003. Jones went on to join the band of Irish artist Cathy Davey.
Tong appeared as a live replacement for ex-guitarist Graham Coxon in Blur and as additional guitarist for Gorillaz. Tong is also a member of an unnamed supergroup formed by Damon Albarn of Blur which released its first album The Good, the Bad & the Queen in January 2007.
After the breakup Nick McCabe worked in different projects like the London-based Neotropic project and played along some established artists, including John Martyn, Leeds-based band The Music, The Beta Band and together with Faultline.
Besides working with Ashcroft, Pete Salisbury also filled in as the drummer for a UK tour in 2004 for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, when their original drummer briefly left due to alcohol and drug abuse. Salisbury also owns a drum shop in Stockport, England.
Reunion and Forth (2007present)
On 26 June 2007, the band\'s reunion was announced by Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1. The band, reuniting in their original line-up, announced they would tour in November 2007, and release an album in 2008. The band stated: \"We are getting back together for the joy of music.\" After Ashcroft learned that friend and drummer on his solo albums, Peter Salisbury, was in contact with former Verve guitarist, Nick McCabe, over a possible side project, Ashcroft was compelled to call McCabe. He made peace with him and bassist Simon Jones and the band reformed. Missing from the band\'s line-up is Simon Tong (member of the band in the period 1996-9) so as to keep the internal issues that split the band up a decade ago to an absolute minimum. Jones explained this decision by stating: \"It would have been too hard, it\'s hard enough for the four of us. If you bring more people to it, it\'s harder to communicate and communication has always been our difficulty\".
It was later revealed that the band turned down a multi-album deal offer \"because the \"treadmill\" of releasing albums and touring marked the beginning of the end for the band a decade ago\".
Tickets for their six-gig tour in early November 2007 sold out in less than 20 minutes. The tour began in Glasgow on 2 November, and included 6 performances at the Carling Academy Glasgow, The Empress Ballroom and the London Roundhouse. Since the 6-gig tour went extremely well in sales, the band booked a second, and bigger tour for December. They played at O2 arena, the SECC in Glasgow, the Odyssey in Belfast, the Nottingham Arena and Manchester Central. Each show from the first and second part of the tour were sold out immediately.
On 15 October, bass player Simon Jones revealed a number of new song titles the band had recorded since reforming. They include \"Sit and Wonder\", \"Judas\", \"Appalachian Springs\", \"Mona Lisa\" and \"Rather Be\". The first results of the reunion were released on 22 October, as a free download called The Thaw Session. The 14 minute jam was the first music the band made after deciding to reunite and was made available for a week free via the NME website.
The Verve performing at the OXEGEN festival in Co.Kildare, Ireland on the 12th of July, 2008.
The band continued touring in 2008. They played at most of the biggest summer festivals and a few headline shows all over North America, Europe, Japan and the UK between April and August. Including shows at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, also at the Madison Square Garden Theater, and the Pinkpop festival, T in the Park, the V Festival, Oxegen Festival, Rock Werchter, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park and The Eden Project Sessions.
On several different occasions, it was reported that the reuinited band were not getting on during the tour. McCabe apparently walked offstage during the band\'s gig at The Eden Project, while a gig in Japan saw the guitarist rushed to hospital after what was reported to be an onstage fracas with his bandmates. The band later denied that any argument had taken place.
The band\'s new single, \"Love Is Noise\", was premiered by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio One on 23 June. They performed at the coveted Sunday night slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on 29 June closing UK\'s biggest festival with a memorable performance, closing the show with the new song.
The Verve released a free download of a non-album track, \"Mover\", on 30 June. The song is a well-known Verve tune played several times in the past by the band, as early as 1994. The track was available for download from their official website for one week only.
They played a very special session on the BBC\'s Radio 1 Maida Vale Studios on 5 August as part of Zane Lowe\'s daily show. The set list contained 3 new songs and 4 classics. An interview with Richard was included in the show.
The band announced the new album\'s title: Forth, which was released in the UK on 25 August and the following day in North America. The album reached #1 on the UK Albums Chart on 31 August. The lead single \"Love Is Noise\" was released in the UK on 3 August digitally and one week later (11 August) on its physical form, peaking at #4 in the UK. The song was a moderate success in Europe, charting at #16 in the European chart (with 6 weeks in the Top 20).
Although Ashcroft is contractually obligated to record another solo album, Jones doesn\'t feel that will interfere with the group\'s future, as he stated: \"[A]ll of us want to pursue this (continuing as The Verve). It\'s something that means a lot to all of us.\" Added to this he mentioned the possibility to tour North America \"towards the end of this year or the beginning of the new one\" and that \"this [reunion] definitely is an ongoing concern; it\'s not something that we\'re all just gonna chuck away again\".
\"Rather Be\" was the band\'s next single from Forth with a UK release date of 17 November.
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Verve