Verve Pipe frontman takes a break from recording, visits Kent

Seth Roy

Brian Vander Ark, frontman for The Verve Pipe, performs in Kent Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY OF BVAMUSIC

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

1997 was a good year for pop radio – a year when the songs were bigger than the artists.

It was a year when someone could turn on the radio and hear Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life,” The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “The Impression That I Get” and Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” back-to-back-to-back.

It was also the year The Verve Pipe hit it big.

“The Freshmen,” from the post-grunge band’s major label debut, Villains, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, catapulting the record into platinum status.

But the band’s success peaked with “The Freshmen,” too. After its 2001 release, Underneath, the band was dropped from its contract with RCA.

Since then, lead singer and founding member, Brian Vander Ark has composed scores for films, acted in movies and self-released his first solo album in 2005 – Resurrection.

“I’m much more optimistic than I was,” he said.

Even if he would get another offer from a major label, Vander Ark said he would probably not sign.

Brian Vander Ark

With Red Wanting Blue

Where? Screwy Louie’s

When? 7 p.m. Saturday

How much? $10

Visit for more information

“I have a direct communication with every person that buys the record,” Vander Ark said. “If I sell 20 discs in Cudahy, Wisconsin, then I know that people are talking in Cudahy, Wisconsin. I think that the days of the major label are over.”

This weekend, he is taking a break from recording his follow-up album in Nashville to play at Screwy Louie’s – it will likely be his last concert until the record is finished.

“Hell, I’m always up for it,” Vander Ark said of playing in small venues. “I try to put on the same, quality show. I prefer 50 people paying attention over a thousand people gabbing.”

His solo shows are more relaxed and easier to prepare for than when he plays with his band.

“The live show is the greatest difference,” he said. “It’s such a pleasure to play live now. I’ve got a guitar strapped to my back – and I’m good.”

The Verve Pipe is still together, he said, and the group usually plays a few dates every year, but he is concentrating on his solo career right now.

“When I write solo stuff, it’s really just a matter of paying attention to the lyric and the melody,” Vander Ark said. “I write pop songs. Classic A-B structure – very Beatles.”

Resurrection is easily recognizable as a Brian Vander Ark album. Song structures and themes are similar to those covered in Verve Pipe albums.

But something also is different under the surface. Resurrection features poppier music and more hopeful lyrics.

He credits some of his change in outlook to his


“My wife really turned me on to a few different things,” Vander Ark said. “The test now, and the challenge now, is to write a really great love song.”

And with a new album and more movie scores on the horizon, he might be that much closer to achieving his goal.

Contact ALL editor Seth Roy at [email protected].