Let’s be honest, there was a lot of brooding going on in the ’90s. But this week’s track may have been the most brooding thing to come out of the whole decade, and we all loved it. The grim story of The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshmen” is on the show this week, and we chat with writer and frontman about its creation, the downside of the music business, finding creative freedom and more, plus:
- Being crowd pleasers
- ‘90s shirt fashion
- Lawn chairs and living rooms
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(This transcript was automated by baby robots, so please forgive any errors.)
Turn up the radio and sing along for another Great Song. This is the Great Song Podcast. Season's greetings and welcome once again to the Great Song Podcast. I'm Rob Alley,
I am J.P. Moser, and we're here to celebrate the greatest songs in modern music. We're going to tell you what makes them great, why we think they're awesome and why you should too. J.P. how are you doing today, man? I am doing fantastic. Okay. So the song we're covering today was released in 1997, just a year after Rob and I, were indeed freshmen in high school.
So fast forward, three years later to the summer of 2000. And why is this your important? Well, I'll tell you because that's the summer that Robin met and why is that important? Robin? Our indeed freshmen in college. That's right. We were freshmen. So I can think of no better song or at least the timing the phrasing was or the week, whatever.
Wow. Play a little bit of the freshmen by lover, pop rock, play a little bit of this.
Hardest broken instantly. This is almost, this is almost weirdly for us. Could, it could be a make-up song after a ride.
What are we doing now? New wealth
buys now guilt stricken sobbing. When my head on the floor. It's not the amount of lyrics that I had wrong on this song.
She got hit on the floor. Right, right. She was touching,
be held responsible log in the first place for the
and we know the top
kicked off, dude. I was about to say, listen, how cheap that snare sounds, but it's awesome. I love it. The kick drum sound. Like it's 30 inches, like 30 inches wide, you know what I mean? 30, 30 inches diameter and no front head. I mean, no backpack. It sounds like a really loose front head, no back. Or it's got the big open circle back and it's just got an old pillow in it.
You know what I mean? It's like, oh, it sounds good, but not, not exactly good, but great. Perfect. All right. That is the freshmen by The Verve Pipe. Let's get one thing straight on this. Cause it's this trying to find this. Information about the song on the internet. The spelling is all over the place. Okay.
Let's get, let's get the title of this song, right? This song is called the fresh men. M E N not the fresh man and not just freshmen. It's the freshmen. This is a song about, and it's The Verve Pipe, but that's right. The Verve Pipe, fresher pipe pipe. That's so much confusion. Wow. That's right. All of these, if you think, should there be a D the answer is yes.
Right. Okay. And so, and it's, it's the fresh men, because it's about two guys. Okay, we're going to get into the story because I personally needed a little clarification because I don't listen to the lyrics until I've forced myself to. So the storyline of the song I was telling J.P. The, the amount of lyrics that I was not hearing correctly or not interpreting correctly about this song was off the charts.
Maybe more than any song we've covered, especially. Like, you know, I didn't really fully take in the lyrics. Like you hear the song in 1997 and, and it just becomes part of your life. You know what I mean? And so after that, you know, I don't, I don't think about the lyrics later. It's just a thing that I'm listening to.
You know what I mean? It's a going autopilot. You're just saying it along. If the words are wrong, it's about taking in the whole song. And, and, and for me, who already doesn't listen much to the lyrics, then it's, you know, it all just gets lost. So I got some clarity on the song, by the way, we're going to talk to Brian Vander, Ark, lead singer of a, The Verve Pipe writer of this and many other great songs.
I'll hang around at the end. You guys are gonna love this guy handled it really, really fun guy. He, he, he gets it. He was one of us. And so, okay. Let's start at the beginning. That is the freshmen by The Verve Pipe from the 1996 album villains, but the. Was released in 1997. It went to number five on the us billboard hot 100 number one on the U S adult alternative songs chart number seven on the adult, top 40 and mainstream, top 40 huge song.
Number nine on the mainstream rock chart. Number six in Canada, number 28 in Australia. It didn't chart significantly in the UK, which made me wonder why this is such a huge song. Why didn't it translate? Well, do they say freshmen in the UK? I don't know. Like what's the, was your first year of high school?
Yeah, we were merely ninth years. Doesn't really sing the same. You know what I mean? But I think maybe. What they, I think that might be, I don't know if they actually, you know what I mean? Barely
the ninth years by The Verve Pipe, it doesn't quite hit the same. This one was number 21 for all of 1997 in the United States, by the way, that is The Verve Pipe. Not to be confused with The Verve. Right. So it's been a joke with him about that. We did, we did. So that's, it's always the, we went out the gates.
It was, it was a bit of a a bit of a risk. But I think the very first thing I said to Brian in our interview was making a joke about The Verve. And, and I knew like if he gets this, we're going to be fine. If he's, if he's lands we're friends and this is golden. Yes. If this whiffs it's going to be David Wilcox tense times over at the podcast today.
Yeah. But fortunately it went great and he's, he was really funny. All right. So. Let's first dig into the story. Okay. The song is about a love triangle. It is inspired by true events, but not completely true. Okay. So there are parts of this. That's true. Parts of it. That's not, but here are those based on the names have been changed.
Yes, exactly. Based on a true story based yes. Based on a true story. It's like the, if, if the true story was written in the book, what we got on the single was the movie, right. This drama is amped up and, you know, whatever it was taken from the biography, but it was, you know, things were changed. Characters were either split delayed, combined deleted scenes.
That's right. So here's, here's the story of the song. Okay. Boy, a the narrator dates, girl, they break. Boy be dates, girl. They break up and boy, a dates girl again. Okay. I believe that is the story. At some point in this cycle, the girl gets pregnant and decides to terminate the pregnant. She feeling guilty overdoses on Valium and dies.
Both boys feel bad, but they never talk about it again. They never, they go their separate ways and they never process it in any way together. Okay. A lot of heavy topics there. It's so dark, it's such a dark song. And, and I never realized that the song involved, a girl having an abortion, despite the line that clearly says stop a baby's breath and a shoe full of rice, like about, you know, stopping this, this, this pregnancy and the wedding that would have ensued.
You know what I mean? I always thought about the baby's breath flower from the very first time I heard the song, I thought, I thought, are they going to prom? You know what I mean? Like the baby's breath that you use on like a corsage or what do you call the thing that goes on your hand? I can think of it.
The corsage one and the other one is the side of a gun. Everybody knows this, right. It's of course made the Robert big. Daters the thing that goes around the wrist. All right. This is where y'all are listening, going to, are you shouting? Oh my gosh. Okay. Curl the cumberbun. No, no, no Vermilion.
Anyway, we'll come back to whatever the biggest, yeah, it's going to come. It's gonna come. But so I was like that, that part to me, never landed, even though it's fairly, very clearly laid out in the song. This song was influenced interestingly by the divine aisles. Do you remember the vinyls? Vaguely. Yes.
They had the song vaguely. And the song in the, I think it was the very early nineties called I touch myself. I know. And anybody else, man, we nailed that. We did. We did. And Brian Vander Ark said in an interview with song facts the line what's it called? I was looking it up and so I just giggled, hang on just a second.
I just looked up prob wrist flower. Okay. So that is the corsage. We're trying to think of the other thing boot near. Is that right? Yeah. Anyway underneath it, it says, what side does a woman wear a button? And I read, what side does a woman have a butt hole in the world? Is this, there are different sides up.
This works. I've been worried for 20 years. So I'm glad you thought of that, that waiting area. I didn't, I never found him. Here's what goes on, on the, on the duke guy.
Sorry guys. I got distracted at Robin's in the middle of this heartfelt. Yeah. Anyway. Yes. So Brian said about the devils, the line. I can't be held responsible. She was touching her face. He said, when I wrote this song, the vinyls had a song out called I touched myself. The TV was on, she was touching her face in the video.
Very sexy. So I can't be responsible because she was trying to be sexy, trying to seduce me, et cetera. He was like, basically I couldn't, I couldn't you know, I couldn't help myself. You know what I mean? I had, no, I had no resolve. This is where guys, we know how this goes. There is no, there's no chance for us ever, when it comes to that sort of temptation, we lose peers.
Like it's not a thing that we can really. Okay. That doesn't, that doesn't excuse it. It doesn't excuse it. He shouldn't have gone and got this girl pregnant if it wasn't, you know, if it wasn't time, however, I can see the, you got the logic of the song, lions, the logic of the song lands when she's touching her face.
It's dude, it's hard. Come on. What are you, what are you supposed to do? Okay. He also said, let's see, the freshmen was written in 19 91, 1 year before The Verve Pipe was born. I wrote it in a house on gold lake, Michigan. I had rented the movie, the freshmen with Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick.
And the case was just sitting there the next morning. That connection that it has into that movie. I didn't know that he said the case was just sitting there the next morning. And I found myself staring at it. Then I realized that we're all freshmen at some point in our life. Why not write a song for all of us?
It's good. And that's one of the reasons I think this song really lands because we've all felt this about something. Maybe not this heavy, although many of us have, but like we've all been at this point going one of the greatest lines to start a course ever for the life of me. It's so pregnant to not to borrow something from the song, but with, with regret and and like wistfulness all of their power in that phrase.
Yes. For the laughing. And he he's so good. His enunciation is wonderful. I can't tell you how many times since we've just been, like we were talking before and like, when I was in doing, I just go for a little off of all the time, you can't help, but do it, whether you it's the same thing you do when you impersonate hoody, you know, you try to sound like, but you got to sing it like Brian.
Yeah. You don't just go fund me. You know what I mean? It's not Justin Bieber. It doesn't come out the same. Right. But yeah, his delivery, you feel that emotion, you feel all this guilt, you feel all this sorrow and regret and all these things coming through in that one line. And it's so powerful that my next note was, let's just talk about the mood and the way this song builds.
Right. I mean, from, from the. First note, this song has a mood and they recorded it several times, which we talked with Brian about. And, and not until this version, did they get the mood that they felt like was right for the song and, and absolutely. I'm glad they did because it totally works, but let's just, let's listen, one more time.
Just the beginning of this, you get a single guitar. Sounds like probably a Les Paul, you may have it in the notes. I don't know, but it sounds like a Les Paul to me. But, and you have that, and then this other guitar comes in
then on the right side,
I mean, come on. This stage is set. Isn't that wild? It's such an, I don't know if it's. I don't know if it's because we know what's coming, you know what I mean? I'm sure there's part of it that your, your brain sort of instantly registers the whole song when you, when you hear that and you go, ah, you know, that's what, like my whole body just goes whenever I hear that, but yeah.
The mood is set here and that's really how it stays until the chorus. Right. You've got Brian's vocal, Bayer. You know what I mean? It gives his vocal is pretty dry.
I'm sure it's got some like room reverb or on a little bit, but it's not soaked now. Well, he's writing the mic to
There's some very light river on there. You can hear it on the floor. And incontinence. And then the first time later, we've got a line that comes in here, but here's just the guitar. So bear it's just him and his thoughts. She was touching.
I mean, the lyric is so upfront and this one, man, and then you get one little addition right here. For the face. I cannot remember what room it is. One, one electric and a cannot wait, full band is going to come in right here. My brothers. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. It's like the drums are in the back of the room. Best friends, two weeks vacation. And you've got some other stuff going on here. It's hard parts changing a little or the Val Gilman slapped and now he's. And then from there on, I'm gonna wear this head on. Just keeps building through the entire solid.
Now we're going to get this lead line, which is everything and it's way off. Like don't really even hear the attack of it just in your right ear. Yeah. And it's soaked in reverbs that way back in the mix, how the sponsor sheets, then we get this heavier chorus. Boom.
I mean, those are rock guitars. Those are heavy guitars.
So full of distortion, like those are really stop. And then it's going to go up another notch left. Side's got the single note guitar distorted.
Those guitars by themselves would sound awful. Yes. Yeah, you, you would hear those alone and go what? No, smooth that out. You know what I mean? And so then we go through the third verse, which is down and then chorus back up again. He changes the melody, right? He for the life of me, all that, you know what I mean?
And then he goes real big on that last chorus laughing me. I can not let's listen to it. Let's let Brian do it. He did it all.
By the way there's a change in the base. No, right there.
Right. Instead of going 6, 5, 4, the basic on 1 7, 4, 1 7, 6
grit, grit in his vocal
and then it's like the very end. He just, it's almost like he's exhausted. I love that that's peak of his range because it's not. But it stretches him. Yeah. And I love it.
Little Oregon at the end. It's almost like, sounds like feedback. Sounds like a funeral. No. Yeah. Never made that. Just that plain. That's not a B3. That's a Churchill. That's a, you know, like a funeral home, Oregon. That's great. The the way he plays the chords. I know we talked about it's chord progression is pretty simple.
I mean, let's just, it's in the key of E. Okay. So I'm hearing it in a D voicing to play in. So he's playing DG, be monitored pretty much on the course, but it's in the key of E. Gotcha. So, yeah, let's talk about, can we talk, can we make the band, I want to talk a little bit about the gears since you mentioned it.
It's time to meet the man. Hey, mama was beat the man.
The Verve Pipe that played on this track, I'm going to start with one of the brothers. We'll we'll let Brian do most of the talking on himself at the end. So we'll save him for this. So we'll start with Brad Vander, Ark, bass player, backing vocals. One of the Vander Ark brothers started a band, which I think is a great name, Johnny with an eye, but it's like eye, I think is awesome.
And it's spelled with a Y Johnny with a Y with an, which I think is brilliant. I love it. Before him and Brian had the, The Verve Pipe started playing guitar at age 14, like so many. And if my math is correct, that would have mean he would have probably been a Frank. Freshman year when he started playing at 14, I think you're a freshmen at fifth grade, ninth grade, somewhere around there, if you're a young early.
Yeah. If you're the old one in the class or if you're the, the baby he now lives in lake Michigan and does some freelance writing and music production. And we get to talk with Brian about how he's back with with, with Brian now doing music, which is great on drums and backing vocals, Donny Brown after The Verve Pipe, reliefs released two self-titled APS he had songs and Dawson's Creek of the Tim Allen film, Joe.
Somebody, yeah, there you go. Everybody's favorite, maybe play drums for a lot of people that I don't know. So I'm going to list these people and tell me if you know any of them. Okay. Amy Petty, Thor, Netta Davis, Michael Robertson, and the broken heart saviors. All sounds. Great names of people that would do great music.
Stornetta Davis sounds like she belongs in Memphis. It sounds like I would see her on the wall at the, like at the, the blues hall of fame. Yeah, that's good. I like that. I'm on lead guitar. AIJ Dunning. And I'll sit on him on on this for a little bit, cause I do want to talk about some gear stuff.
So I'm going to kind of gear out a little bit here. The amps that he plays through an Vox AC 15, which is most people play the, the AC 30, but he plays a smaller version, matchless club, 35 or the super. One 20 debated. I don't know which one Zinky mofo, but his workhorse is a fender vibe, bro.
King amp. So I was looking at this that's a lot, other than the, the Vox, it's a lot of just random amps. You don't hear a lot of people play in the super chief or the Zinky mofo or the, if you're going to play a fender, you're not playing a vibe, bro king, like, that's just, I thought that was awesome that he's got.
And then he goes from there to your traditional guitars, he plays a Gibson, Les Paul, Les, Paul junior gold top. And he plays a telly on this. As evidence because I saw, well, I imagine he plays it on the project because that's what he played on Lovitt Letterman. So I'll watch them do it live. And I imagine you would play the same guitar that you played on the project.
If you're going to do a lot. And if you're going to do a live show right after you drop this, I imagine you'd want to stay pretty true to the original, but on keyboards and percussion, Doug Carella had a hard time finding info on him. That's non Verve pipe relate. He was in a band called the carts with Todd Bowie.
And then Brian Vander Ark, who we're going to geek out on all things. Brian here in a little bit. Great, great interview. Great guy. Yes. Lots of fun. Funny guy, very sort of self-aware and you know he has such an interesting story. You know, The Verve Pipe this album comes out and explodes, not instantly, but after the freshmen gains traction, then this album, you know, goes really big, but the next album.
Is by all accounts, commercially, a bay miserable failure, you know which is ironic that the band, you know, made famous by the song called the freshmen would fall. So victim to the sophomore slump. Oh, that's good. Yeah, even though it's not technically their sophomore album, but basically coming off of a, of the momentum as far as, you know, villains was their first major label debut.
I got a good segue that kind of segues me into stuff. The genius. Can we play stuff at genius? The genius. Genius, genius, genius. All right. So we're going to play step, the genius freshmen edition. And I know I had this great idea. So I was going to, I started with this concept of the Michigan fab five. So like I was going to give a quote by somebody else.
Like, this is way too deep and I didn't go there because this would have been like super complicated, but I was like, oh, I got to do something on the Michigan fan. Cause right. Early nineties era. So I was going to do like a quote. Oh yes. They call him the streak is by. Steven. So I would have found a way to get from there to Ray Jackson.
This is, this is why this was a dumb idea that I could not do. I was going to do the podcast. I know I'd walk through hell and a gasoline to play baseball is the Pete Pete rose. So we had got Jalen rose out of that. And I was going to try to find a way to get through all five. And I was like, this is way too hard, and this is going to be dumb.
So I went super easy. And we're going to do true or false facts about freshmen. So these are, these are static facts. Can you reach them? I'm going to get the bail here. That's going to ring it for myself. Okay. Question one more than 15% of college freshmen live more than 500 miles away from home. They move 500 miles away from home.
Okay. So is this a true or false? All these are true or false. Okay. So these are all true. 15%. More than 15, 15% of college freshmen live more, move more than 500 miles away. So you 500 miles is quite a way. I mean, that's, that's a full, that's a full state away. That's a good way it's across. I mean, that's, do you think more freshmen more than 15% would move away?
You know what I think? So that is fall less than 14%. Wow. So people stay close to home 500 miles though. That's a long, that's a big radius. If you think of it, like one straight line, but ends up. That's a big radius. Okay. One fourth of college freshmen say they need math tutoring. I would say, yeah, that is true.
Correct. Shocking to me that a fourth one out of every four, say they need math tutoring. I mean, as much as I hate math, I would totally, I would totally see that. Okay. During the senior year, more than 40% of college seniors, Admit to a falling asleep during class. So their senior year after, and this is not fresh, but after your senior year, more than 40% admit to a falling asleep, that is true.
Have I told my falling asleep in class. Okay. So I had this I had this there's, this there's a music tie in here. So sound and audio tie in, let's say, okay. So I had a history teacher in high school and I think it was it was American history. I can't even remember that's how bad this was because I was a good student.
You cannot remember the life of me. I was a good student. I made A's and B's I was, you know, top 10% of my class, all that stuff. And so, you know, I was not a fall asleep in class. Got, but I had this one teacher who, you know, it was like a painted cinderblock classroom, you know what I mean? And I sat back the radiator.
Yes. Okay. So early season one. Okay. So Tom to retell it. So we, we had I, and I may have been a freshman for this class. I don't, I don't recall fully, but I had to sit in the bag next to the radiator. We had assigned seats and where I sat in the room. This teacher had a very monotone voice and he spoke quietly and he spoke on the same pitch the whole time.
He didn't really change his pitch. I can't really do this for very long because I get distracted, but this is what he did the whole time. It was all on this one pitch. The pitch that he spoke at naturally, where he lived as a teacher, was this resonant frequency in the room that it's the same, the same concept is like how singers can make glasses break.
Right? You catch a frequency that vibrates that glass. And when you hit it hard enough that glass shatters, because the vibration makes it go nuts. Okay. So there's, there's oftentimes in a room of frequencies that you can catch. If you just walk in through your house one day and go. and just walk around, you'll find some spot in your house where one of those frequencies will linger after you leave it.
That's that's what's his voice was that frequency in that room and it made the whole room in the back. No man. And I'm driving and we just put you to sleep rolled out a windows. Next is hot radiator. You know what I mean? It's warm, I'm in the back. He's talking so quote and he's trying to teach me history, which is not my thing anyway.
So I, I definitely fell asleep in for sure. I I think the tie in story that I had was that we had a teacher savored woods that was narcoleptic and would fall asleep in class in class, but I'm going to go a different one than I don't think I told him about how to tell this. I don't know I was early elementary school, second or third grade.
I came here and I was in music class and it was music. We were sitting in our desks like before we got up to sing and the teacher was just talking about music you know, and just giving some, and I don't know why, but I was tired and I fell asleep in the music class and I fell off my, my head fell off and I farted at everybody.
Like you can't play that all. Like it's not. Because he just fell off the desk and all that, and it was not a silent one. So that was my, that was my falling asleep in class. It was horrid. Wow. All right. That was number three, number four. So you're two for three so far. Over 75% of freshmen get accepted into their first college choice.
I would say fall. That is true. Maybe 6% of freshmen. So kids get up there. It's easy. Yeah. 76% first, first choice. Wow. Over 75% live in a dorm. I Hmm. That's a lot over 75. I'm going to say false. That is true. Wow. So you didn't get it right. But 78% of freshmen live in a dorm. Wow. That's crazy stat.
Right? I thought that was high too, I guess for, I guess, fresh. Most freshmen have to live off-campus housing. Right. Anyway, I guess the other percentage lift my stats were skewed. I was a commuter, so never did the dorm, never did the on-campus housing. Let us know how you guys did at home. We always like to hear how you do versus our genius.
The genius. Let's see, I have a little bit more on The Verve Pipe as a band that I can add formed in east Lansing, Michigan in 1992, as we said, and actually I think there was another band involved other than Johnny with an Eye of, I believe in my research, if I can trust it, they kind of formed from a combination of two bands, Johnny with an eye and a band called water for the pool.
Where if I recall correctly, there was kind of a producer who was working with both of these bands at the same time, I think. And. I've why don't you try and sing this song for this band, that kind of thing. And it was something that they kind of got cross pollinated in a couple of ways, and eventually they, the other two bands sort of parted and the, and The Verve Pipe formed out of, yeah, that'd be neat.
We should have looked up who was in Johnny, like what's up with it. We should go to meet the band section on the leftovers from Johnny with, and we'll Waterford. Yeah. Water for the pool. So they're their first major, major label release, as we said, was villains in 1996 which contained in its first pressing a different version of the freshmen that is called the studio D version.
So let me play you a little bit of that and you'll hear how different it is. And this was at least the second recording already of the freshmen because they had put it out first on their 92 independent album. I've suffered a head injury. Well, it's already in with drums. It's already, this is much more, this is an inch away from wicked game by Chris.
Listen to his vocal delivery is different. Now it's young and new, well, it's not as she upon cooler. It's not as gritty. It's not as, especially you'll hear farther into the songs, more effect it in the beginning of the lines, stop bass and drums and guitar can be Helms. And they're the basic on 1 76. She was,
a little melody changes. It's not quite the same song. It's very gentle. It's still full of thought. How big does it get?
that's as big as it gets. Ah, it's only like pensive and thoughtful coffee shop. Yeah. Yeah. So the, the single version that Brian sort of tells us how it evolves and how they, how they ended up doing, you hear it from him. You'll love that. Yeah. So the follow-up was 1999. Self-titled The Verve Pipe. It didn't sell well at all.
Then they had in 2001, the album underneath, which Brian says is his actual favorite album of theirs. And it had the song colorful, which appeared in the movie rockstar, which he talks a little bit about that. And then after that, there's a long drought for The Verve Pipe. And it's during that time that we'll talk a little bit, a little bit to Brian about, but Brian started doing house shows.
He would just show up with his acoustic guitar and you could book him privately to come into your house. And he was really kind of ahead of his time in that it's pretty common now, especially it got very common in the pandemic you know, the height of the pandemic coming out of it. And even more so it went from, okay, we can't travel, but maybe I can do some house shows to, Hey, let me live stream from my living room, from my house, from my kitchen, I'll bring my house to you and you can pay to, you know, to get in and get a ticket.
So then from 2001 to 2009, there's nothing from The Verve Pipe. Then in 2009, in 2014, they released two family albums that were geared more toward kids and parents and just kind of being fun. Let me play you a little bit. This is from 2009 that the album is called a family album by The Verve Pipe.
It's got a cute little cartoon, grumpy cat on the front of it, not the grumpy cat, but a graphic. This is wake up from a family.
It's time to go to school. Your mum and dad will let you. It's really great. It's got some humor. It's fun to get. Songs are good.
that's good. I love that they were not too cool to do this. You know what I mean? They're like, dude, where the fricking Verve pipe, are you doing your kids album? Yeah, but he's like, man, I got this fun idea. Let's try this. You know, he's got a kid at this point. Like, let's, let's make some songs for kids. Why not?
Who's who said you can't do that as a rock band? And you know, the parents. Yeah, exactly. And so and then there's like, there's such a funny song on the second one, the two, 2014, they released are we there yet? Their second family album? And it has a song on it called I didn't get my note signed, which is the most kids school thing onset for a song that you could possibly come up with.
And it's literally about like, I had to miss the field trip. Cause I thought mom signed the note. Dad thought moms signed the note, you know? And it's so it's so funny. So check out if you've got kids, play them a family album and are we there yet? And, and they will love them. In 2014, they also started doing some like quote unquote, regular Verve pipe stuff.
Again, they came out with the album overboard 2017 parachute and then late 20, 21, their latest album threads, which I've really enjoyed. Have you got it? Yeah. So it's been really good. I, I found a, by the way, if you want to watch, there is a full documentary it's about an hour long. About Brian's time doing how shows documented it as he was doing it.
It's called lawn chairs and living rooms, and it's on Vimeo. You can find it, but if I'm sure, if you just typed lawn chairs and living rooms, Brian Vander Ark, it'll, it'll come up, but it's very cool to kind of watch them go through all this. And he gets, he's very, he was always very upfront about like, you know, here's why I'm doing this and here's, you know what I mean?
Here's what it means for me. And so it's, it's really cool to watch that kind of stuff. I found a hilariously nineties interview with the band from 1996 on something called launch. Do you remember something called launch from the nineties? I don't know if it was a. A magazine that maybe came with a CD rom, but that's what it makes me think of.
Because the it's like a, it's a video interview and it's all done in like 15 to 32nd snippets. Okay. Which makes me think that it had to be some sort of CD rom we weren't streaming this kind of thing yet. You know? So may, it could have been video clips that you could click on, on an internet page, but it seems to me at the time, it, the height of CD rom was right there.
So, and it's like, they, they record the guys in the band in front of a green screen and the background is a. Set. It's like a virtual lounge coffee shop thing with over the top. There's no need to do that. Just film it in a coffee house, but like, it was so mid to late nineties that it, you know, it makes the whole scene look like outtakes from a CD rom game, like missed, missed, or the seventh guest under a killing moon, those full motion video games that were, what am I?
One of my favorites was a King's quest. Kingscliff CB King's quest five. You got to hear the song girl from the tower. It's freaking awesome. Look it up. That's great. Okay. So that that's really fun. You can, you can look it up. It's it's on YouTube. The whole thing is on YouTube, but it's all in like 15 to 32nd clips.
All right. I think I have one more kind of significant thing. I got this and then the thing that's not significant, but it's going to be cool. We mentioned early on that this song is. Moody and it is dark, right? Even it, the more you look into it, the darker it gets. It is in fact, One of the darkest songs of the nineties and you know how I found that list.
There's a list. So this is a Buzzfeed list called 17 quote unquote fun songs from the nineties that you didn't realize have some pretty dark lyrics. Okay. So number one, a couple of these songs I'm not as familiar with. Number one is because it's the Google dolls slide by the Google slides. Why don't you slide I'll come on.
You know, I don't use slides ever dreamed to be complete. Oh, is it the one that's got the one guitar thing? That's like, , that's all I know from that song. Okay. So yeah, slide to my room. Well, it's an about abortion. It's about, it's about an abortion right away. Let's see, second is a jumper by third eye blind fan.
Also step back from that ledge, the ever popular F major seven chord open there at the beginning button up to the C what's that guy's name? Steven Johnson is at the lead singer. He's really funny. Likable guy. I've seen him on some stuff, man. I hate his band. I told you I saw them at Memphis in may for the bill street, music, music festival.
I told you about that, but packed like everybody's there and they didn't play. Any hits till like later on. And everybody was like, oh my God, you got to give them one. They're not the kind of band that you wait. Exactly. They played. I think they did a SIM, a charm life. Like thanks. Seven or eight. It's like hanging on there guys.
Yeah, no you can't. I can't do that. Janet Jackson together again as number three, do you know that one? What I give to hold you close as on earth and heaven will be together, baby together again, my baby, I don't know. I don't, it doesn't, it's not ringing the bell. It should. But anyway, it's, it's about how one day you'll see your, your dead you know, boyfriend, girlfriend in heaven you know, whatever it is, dance song, I'm sure I'd note.
If I heard it, I can't get the hook in my head. Number four is the freshmen, which has also misspelled in this whole. Fantastic. It's spelled the fresh man. Number five, Dave Matthews band crashed into me. And that one's a little, you can, if you sneak into the lyrics, you can kind of figure out that one's about number six, blind melon, no rain.
It's it's about depression. Yeah. Number seven today by the smashing pumpkins it's actually written about suicide, said Billy Corgan, I think. And let's see. Independence day by Martina McBride pendants day. How's that? Not what's depressing about it. It's a country song with an upbeat tempo and catchy chorus about freedom, but it's incredibly bad.
The song is about an alcoholic and violently abusive husband who was murdered by his wife who then burns their house down. And the kid is taken by the county of reckoning, I guess. So yeah. Thinking through the lyrics. Yeah. It just comes across as a happy as a girl. You thought it was about 4th of July.
You never thought it was about never did. I was like, nah, till right now I'm like, shoot them fireworks. Let's we can do this thing. Yay nation. Yay. 4th of July. Oh, my gosh. Let's see. Number nine on this list is poly by Nirvana. I know you're not a big Nirvana unplugged guy, but I know this song from the Nirvana unplugged album.
It's, it's pretty dark. It's about a kidnapping and some other situations. Number 10 red hot chili peppers under the bridge, but it makes sense. How about Hanson coming in at number 11 with. It's about you know, relationships being, being abandoned, being left by everyone, you know, and the most relationships in life are futile and could end at any moment, Dante fast, number 12, brick by Ben folds file of that song.
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly, also about abortion, lots of abortion songs in the nineties. It was a real you know number 13, we've talked about this one. How about the way by fastball, dark, dark Tony's go back and listen to our episode with our good friend Tony scales though. You remember possum kingdom by the Toadies.
I remember the Toadies, but I don't remember the song
sounded like you saying the riff to sweet home Alabama.
I was like, no, it's got a little, it's got a little riff that's in like seven, four in it. Something my sweet angel. Oh, help me, Jesus. This genius. How about Sonny came home, but Colin's number 15. It's about escaping an abusive relationship and arson kind of the same thing as independence day, really long limit burned down houses.
Oh, let's see. Wrong way by sublime. Do you know the wrong way? Oh, I think it's like uptempo kind of faster. I think I know that one. Okay. Couldn't sing it, but yeah. And then number seven, I don't know this song or this 17, 17, I'm sorry. Number 17 is steal my sunshine by
That's all. I it's horrible. I probably heard it and thought it was early voice. Yeah. Okay. I don't know. I I've probably heard it and thought it was maybe still my sunshine. It is right. It's steel. Steel Ste L take take away my son. Yeah, that's what I was saying. What were you saying? I was saying still STI.
Yeah, we live in the south. This is a real problems down here. For those of you who, for those of you who don't live in the American south or don't have any Southern friends cool. With steel and steel is a real problem around because I'm saying steel. I'm like, I know steel. And steal. Okay. Because it crosses both the ways there, there are, there are people who pronounce the word still steal, right?
Like, yeah. Were you still going into the thing? You know what I mean, steel crazy hero. And then you also get people who say steel, like if I'm going to steal something from the store, pronounce it still. Right. Like, you know, you know, he got caught. He was, he was trying to still, he was still on the, yeah, he got still instilling.
Yeah. Same thing happens in the south with, with sell and sale. Oh, good Lord. I mean, this is. Yeah, like, ah, this is for sale. That is one of the most, most criminal atrocities that happens to the English language in the south is steel and still cell and say, is that for sale sale? It's not on sale sale.
It's so weird. Okay. Alright. Those are the darkest darkest songs in the nineties. I do have one other thing. And I don't know if we'll play a clip or not, but I found one cover that is of note to us because of who we are. Bronson Arroyo covered this song on his album, covering the basis. Do you remember Bronson Arroyo pitcher for the Cincinnati reds?
I was not even thinking sports. When you were saying that, I was like, is he like a drummer for somebody? That's right. He pitched for the reds. He had kinda like shoulder length hair and he put out a couple of albums and, and on his album covering the basis, which I assume is only available on CD. I tried to find it streaming.
I found a thing of him doing it live. It was not bad. You know, it was fine, but yeah. Bronson Arroyo MLB for MLB pitcher. Covered covered this song on his album, covering the basis. How about that? Think that about covers all our bases on this song around with Brian, except for one other thing. That's right.
We're going to talk to Brian Vander Ark here in just a second, but in the meantime, I want you to stop whatever you're doing. Okay. I know you're on the toilet. Just stop. Okay. Stop yourself. Grab your phone. Yeah, just, just, just make, make, make a second to do this. Okay. Go to facebook.com/ Great Song pod, instagram.com/ Great Song pod, twitter.com/ Great Song pod, and just hit that follow button.
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And if you decide to do that, we can say, thank you by giving you stuff like early releases, bonus episodes, exclusive shows you can't get anywhere else. And more last year we put out a full album on Patrion that has never existed anywhere outside of that before no one has ever heard that album except the two of us before.
And we put it out on Patrion. So the only way to get stuff like that is to go to patrion.com/ Great Song pod. We will talk to Brian Vander Ark. We'll be back at the end of tequila. This is the Great Song. All right. I think that's it. We'll just start, do a little intro and we'll start hammering away some some questions here, anything that you're like at pass, we can edit out anything that you want.
I've never had to do that in the past, but well, we'll do our best to make it happen. I love it. That I like we were actually just talking about right before you called. We were like, what if we just did the interview with a different voice or we just talked really slowly just to see how long he would be patient.
Hey Ryan, here we go. Kick it up. All right, ladies and gentlemen, as promised we are here with Brian Vander Ark lead singer, songwriter of The Verve Pipe singer of the freshmen, all the music you love from The Verve Pipe and everything they did that bittersweet symphony song. It was fantastic.
Brian. Seriously, thank you so much for joining us today, man. We really appreciate. My pleasure. It's funny. You talk about bittersweet symphony. I, I feel that every single day, every day I have to tell people, or I have to, I make a joke of it, or I post about it. I mean, it happens all the time. Like when you, okay.
When this song blows up and you're like, oh, who's that. What the, The Verve, what come on, guys, where you just like so angry. Well, I'll tell ya. We knew it was coming because we, you know, we had named the band a, The Verve Pipe, and then we saw a music magazine. This was in 1992, an English music magazine that had an advertisement for a storm in heaven, which was, I think the upcoming Verve record.
We're like, oh my God, no. But then we figured what, you know, what would be the chances of a band from Michigan and a band from England, you know, having any kind of issues. And wouldn't, you know, it, you know, four years later we both had hit songs like within weeks of each other, it was crazy. So just bad luck.
So you mentioned you're from Michigan. I had this later down the line. Are you a lions fan? Are you a pistons fan? Are you a Michigan Wolverines fan? Are you a sports fan at all? If so, what's your I was a huge, I've always been a huge sports fan. So back in 1990, I was like, I have to, I have to cut out all of the sports watching.
Right. So I got to pick one team to watch and support and I picked. So you're like you have the Barry Sanders Jersey all about watch them every Thanksgiving. And that's about the only time you want to watch it. Right. That's good. That's about the only time. And even this year it was disappointing. I thought Jared golf was going to be the changer, right?
The Stafford gun trade. I thought maybe that'll help you guys with yeah, but I gotta say Stafford, you know, Stafford was playing great in the beginning. And I was like, I knew it really bad games where the old map that we knew, well, I'm a, I'm a huge sports fan. I've been to every major league baseball park and all, but two NFL stadiums and Ford field was one of my favorites there.
It was really not doing that. So to get back a little bit more musical, that was a lot of fun go lions. Your ninth studio, album threads. I just read an interview that you did with riff. And you talked about how this albums heavily revolved around the theme of fate and how you think of fate as a upbeat and positive light.
And can, can you share a little bit about the themes of the song and yeah, I think that, you know, we're all connected in some way university some people believe in God, some people believe in the universe and some people believe that music is the lowest common denominator that connects us all. And that's what I happen to believe.
And I think that threads is an album that has a collection of stories that does connect us all. We can all relate to each one of these stories in some, in some way. And that was the point of the record. Once Channing had come up with the chanting Lee as our as the other co-writer, once she came up with a theme behind it, I was like, oh my God, that's perfect.
It fits together perfectly. And so that was it, you know, it's a, it's a rollercoaster ride of emotions. And hopefully for the listener as well as for us, when we play it live, and these are the albums that I grew up on the albums that I loved, you know, the conceptual albums of, you know, Genesis and, you know, even going as far as sticks and that kind of thing, you know, that's great.
Well, we don't, we don't mention castle walls and that kind of thing very much, but you know, there, there is always the inexplicable you know, appearance of a unicorn on occasion, you know, and, and a stick song, but there, you know, I always loved the drama. Stick the albums and then the Genesis albums we last season with a Lawrence gallon from sticks.
Yes. Oh, that's funny. Yeah. You know, what's great. I just heard, I just was going through you know just going through the old stuff where it was all a few drinks and put the headphones on and I want to listen to my old favorites, you know? And and the new sticks album came up and I was like, okay, let's see what these guys are doing.
And it sounds exactly the same. It's like, oh my God, I was so impressed. I was sending a text to everybody. You know, you got to listen to this. You know, I had it, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but anyway, not to get too off topic of our album, but that, those are the influences that I grew up with. You know, the idea that you can make an album of songs that is still relevant as it being an LP as an, as an art form, you know what I mean?
Instead of just one song and it's important for me to continue to harp on this, you know this idea that albums are still albums, most albums that are in, you know, were put out in the seventies and had that major push to them were really high quality. Start to finish albums where both album. Well, I never get enough.
I mean, I can get, I get enough of an artist who, who, you know, he's not a good writer. I can never get enough. If somebody is a great writer, I want to hear, I want to sit for 45 minutes at least, and listen to what they're talking about, you know? And you only get that from a great album, you know, is threads the kind of album that, you know, if we go see The Verve Pipe in 20, 22, are you guys going to be doing this thing front to back?
No, we wouldn't. Well, we already did that for the hardcore fans. We did a GIP show, but you know, listen, you know, we, we, we know who we are and we know what our legacy is. And what I prefer to do is we, I prefer to go and put on an hour and a half, two hour show, but we're not going to make people wait two hours to hear stuff off a villains or here the freshmen.
We're not the band that comes out for the Encore and plays the fresh we're, you know, we're the band that plays the freshmen, like the seventh or eight song. Just so we can play everything else. We want to play into people that only were there for the freshmen can go do their own thing.
I mean, I've been to so many shows where, you know, even from some of our peers where you go to the show and they saved, you know, the song for the, the big hit song for the Encore, it's such a calculated move for us. It's like, why do that? We want to enjoy the spontaneity of playing the new songs and playing stuff.
That's off our first album in 92, you know? So we take stand requests upfront, you know, we're really, we've really got it down to where we're a crowd pleaser. Van. We're not the shoe gazer band, you know, I mean, we really want people to come on and have a good time. You spent, you spend your money, you've got to babysitter, you're coming out, you know, pull up, we're going to entertain you for two hours.
And if we don't, then we're failing miserable, but that's great. And he gets a babysitter. Come see, like you're playing to that. Well, I've got kids, I've got kids, you know? I mean, I know, I mean, I know what that's like. I mean, most of our crowd probably is past that. But the fact is is that, you know, these are still people that appreciate.
You know, music and they don't appreciate when, you know, when a band comes on late, you know, or, you know, a band that half steps, it, you know, doesn't is not entertaining. You know, it makes them awake the entire night to hear the song they want to hear. You know, that's just not brag on your punctuality.
You were punctual with us right on. Oh, you know, it's funny. That's, that's going to be my legacy. Wonderful. That's the only rock star in history. That was always a minute early. Did I interview such a punctual young man? He touched, you touched on off suffered a head injury in 92, which freshmen was originally on.
And then it blew up on villains speaking to the song. Villains. I love the pan of the vocal on the far left at the beginning and add the little creepy voice and that head vibe. And I'm assuming. Sucker for black and white videos. Great, great stuff there. You used Jerry Harrison as a producer on villains, so smart stuff with love.
I mean, he did throwing copper and got shuffled his feet for crash test dummies trouble is Kenny Wayne Shepherd. How did y'all land Jerry? How did that connection hookup? Jerry was presented to us through RCA records who are in iron man who had worked with him on something before I forget what project he had worked with him.
And we, of course, you know, we're over the moon where this new band from Michigan and we get to work with a legend, you know, from the talking heads, huge fans, you know and you know, Jerry was every person that you would expect him to be at a really great ear. He was very good at instrumentation choice and You know, he also took into account what the band was and that we were trying to be a successful band.
You know, we, weren't one of the bands that just wanted to make a record, go away. We wanted to be Uber successful and we embraced all of those nineties qualities of the heavy guitars. And, you know, the the vocals that have a bit of an ambiguous lyric and all these other things that he, you know, talking heads for.
So you know, great at, you know lyric wise and not the grungy guitars. So, you know, you got a little bit of. Artistic quality and artistic sense from him, but you also get the guidance of, you know, what's happening today and what's what was happening in the nineties was the sound that he encouraged.
Therefore we're coming up with, you know? Yeah, you sound, it sounds nineties. It's right. It sounds nineties, very nineties record. I'll go more than that though. And I, and I think this was maybe one of, you know, it's, it's pretty well documented that like villains blew up the freshmen and blows up. And then the next record kind of, you know disappointed you know, to say the least as far as sales.
And I was, I was thinking it's, it's part of it may have been that I'm sure you've thought about this, but the freshmen is. It's an entire mood unto itself. Like that song, even now, when you put it on, it is a, it is a vibe that just jumps out of the speakers. And to the point where I think maybe if, you know, if, if, if that's all, you know, The Verve Pipe at that point, and most people that was all they knew, then something else comes out and you expect it to be exactly that again, when you know, it was kind of a lightning in a bottle thing that the production, the creativity, the, the lyric, the feel, even your vocal performance, all, you know, put together this one thing that was.
It was just a whole moment. And it's just really hard to recapture that as you, as you guys, you know, sort of discovered, well, it gets, it gets even more confusing because Jerry Harrison didn't produce that version of the freshmen. That was the big hit that was Jack Joseph tweak. So we went back into the studio because Jerry hadn't nailed it the way that we thought he should have nailed it.
And we went in with Jack Joseph , who had worked with bands that we loved also, you know, he had done the jellyfish record. He had worked with, you know a handful of other artists and we were like, oh man, this, this could be the guy now let's go to him. And we went to him and he sat us all in the room together, which Jerry hadn't done.
He, you know, Jack put us all in a room together, played this and we played the song 20 times in a row until we got it right. And you know, otherwise we built the tracks with Jerry, with the drums first, and then you add the base and then whatever. So that's why that vibe works so well. I think, you know, that was an ocean way, studios in LA and, and we, you know, we took three days to recreate the freshmen for the, you know, rerecord the freshmen for the third time in our, in our history, you know, and that was the one that hit.
Yeah. Which is funny because the album was released and Jerry's version was on the album at first and we sold a couple hundred thousand copies. And then when we went back in to redo it, you know, all those records, those other a hundred thousand records were still in the stores. And so people heard the MTV version, which was the new version and they bought the record and they got the old version
it was a huge mess that a big collectible on eBay. Now you've got people selling the CDs. Yeah, it's funny because we always know if it's the original, because those came out in a blue, like a blue Juul case or something very nineties. So we always know the first hundred thousand that were purchased. Oh man.
That's crazy. Speaking of nineties, you played Leno and Letterman, both in the nineties. Let's talk about the 97 Letterman performance. If you could go back 24 years with that, Brian, what advice would you give him? Not necessarily about that performance, because other than the electric lime green shirt, that's unbuttoned a little too low.
It's pretty perfect. No, Brian, do not think that you can do your own hair. Well, not, not on Leno. You went with the spiky hair. So you reminded you, it reminded you are a rocker, so at least you yeah, that worked better for me. Performance on Letterman. I liked the performance. I've got a T we have a Tik TOK video that have me watch, and the judge just made it a few weeks ago.
He's got a half a million views just for me looking and being so disappointed in my hairspray. It's ridiculous. That's awesome. It's making a great shirts. I think Brad, one ups you on the photograph with a long sleeve silk gray on shirt. We had Emerson part of tonic on not too long ago, and it's amazing how many of these long sleeve.
Gray on shirts are in all these videos. You know what, you, you know why that is? Let me tell you something about ever said heart and The Verve Pipe in seven, married three and all the other bands that were all hanging out together. Back then, there was one woman. Her name is Leah Simon. She's a gym. And she, she was there with us in those early days.
She was friends with our publishers and she would buy us shirts and she would take us to shopping. And it was just, honestly, she didn't, she wasn't a stylist. She just knew what she liked and she was wonderful. So we all had a very similar look. That's awesome. We were all friends with Leah next week on the Great Song podcast.
We're going to be interviewing Leah Simon about fashion in the nineties, Roxy. You can already tell, we like to do deep research on shirts. Clearly you guys know your shirt. One thing you can say about your podcast, man, those guys that's right. We're a music podcast about shirts. Let's go, let's go something I was not aware of.
And I'm sure a lot of people maybe not aware of for The Verve Pipe, it's sort of your left turn into family and children's music. And I love it. I love the idea that the family album what was the sort of impetus to like to turn into that? You, first of all, I'll say just by interviewing you and reading some about you, you seem like a guy who was confident, just being whatever you are.
You're like, this is what I'm going to, this is what I am. This is what I'm going to do. And you're not really concerned with like outside opinions about, you know, what it seems like. So, you know, tell me how that sort of came about the. Well, first of all, I appreciate that assessment of who I am, because that's exactly who I am.
I do. I do whatever I think is the right thing to do at the time. And I've followed my instincts. And I felt like after we released our album underneath, which came out the week of nine 11 great. Oh my God. It was a great album. And we had a song at the end of rockstar, you know, mark Walberg lips, things to colorful lip syncs to my voice.
I mean, everything was going our way for a huge comeback after that terrible sophomore debacle. And it was released to nine 11, so, so serious that time was, we couldn't promote it. You couldn't do anything. And so we just said, okay, well, this is the end of the year. We got dropped by RCA. It's like, we were all feeling dejected and, and we weren't talking to each other and couple of years, three years, one by, and it's like, well, let's go back into the studio and to begin do something, but let's, let's make it fun.
Well, how can we make it fun? Well, I've been going to these kids. I had a young daughter at the time and like, I'm going to all of these kids' performances of like at the ballet or whatever. Every time you buy. I noticed every time somebody buys one t-shirt for one kid, they buy t-shirts for all their kids.
Right. So I'm like, all right, well, why don't we put out a kid's record? And we did. And, but we made it, we didn't make, we were like, we're not going to do the wiggles. We're going to make it like big rock guitar solos, three part harmony is what we do, but we're going to have kind of silly lyrics and lyrics about shenanigans and that kind of thing.
But when we were growing up and Sirius XM picked it up and played that a lot of it and we make more money off the kids' stuff than we made. I mean, it's, it's so fun. That was so fun. We made another one and we would do kids' shows. Yeah, we did Lollapalooza, but the kids stage paired feral assets. We come, they had a kid stage one year.
So we went and did that and played in front of 10,000 screaming kids. It was ridiculous, but so fun. And then of course we pissed a lot of people off that came to the shows, thinking that we were going to play the freshmen. I'm not playing the freshmen. It's a little dark for about abortion. Again was about abortion for children with.
I mean, you could probably do it with puppets, maybe.
Wow. That's a really dark,
you touched on colorful. I love the movie rock star. I know it flopped. I was telling her before I freaking love that movie. I think the best, one of the best lines you ever wrote is in colorful the state for the drama that you paid for a comedy. I think that is a great, well, I appreciate that. I think that's what attracted the director to it.
When I met with him, he mentioned that line. He mentioned that, and I've saw, I saw recently a live video of y'all playing it in March of 2020 at the 20 minute row in grand rapids, Michigan, you got the heavier bottle in tastes. It's still so strong and thick. So I'm glad that that's carried over, even touch.
It's funny because that movie. Did very poorly at the box office again, but it was right after nine 11. Nobody really wanted to see a romantic comedy about a hair band, you know, in the nineties. So, you know, it really failed pretty miserably, but. My brother mentioned this to me, or my older brother mentioned to me, years, years ago, he said, you know, too bad, you guys weren't in you know, almost famous, which was a much, much better movie.
How often do you see almost famous being played on TV, right? You don't. So rockstar played on VH1 all the time, still played on, you know, still plays on HBO. And, and so, you know, I mean, that's helping to pay the bills, you know? Awesome. I love that. That analogy. That's good. You meant, you mentioned your brother, Brett.
I don't know if you're talking about Brad, when you mentioned your younger brother, how nice, how nice does it have him back in the band? With I know you had Zach Dubay and you mentioned Channing and, and Randy on keyboard now. So it's great having your brother back with. Yeah. I mean, listen, my brother, you know, is a different kind of bass player.
He's very inventive. He'll make more mistakes, but, you know than our other bass players have over the years, I mean, Brad was gone for 20 years and, you know, we would get other bass players in and they were precise and amazing and great every night would never make a mistake. And Brad comes in and he's making the stakes, but.
You listened to what he's doing when he's not making mistakes and he'd go, wow, this is really inventive. And that's, that's what I remembered about Brad from 20 years ago, you know, listened to the baseline on photograph and on villains and all these other, you know, the songs off of that album. And he's a fantastic bass player.
So there's something to be said for that being an, for being inventive and not just going by the numbers with the group, like I'll tie this into, I mean, we could do the sticks comparison with, I know Chuck doesn't play bass with them now based on some health issues, but they're like journey whenever Ross, Valerie was with them.
And then they went for a more technical bass player with Randy Jackson. But give me Ross, Valerie. Like I want the guy that as part of the family and it feels right. That's good, Rob. That's good. I literally heard yo-yo, MA's say something yesterday, you know, the world's most famous cellist. He, he said in an ad for his masterclass, actually I'm pulling the, I'm not pretending like I was doing Yomara research.
This is way too bad, but it's still he said, I remember being in the middle of a concert thinking I'm playing this perfectly. I haven't made any mistakes. And he said I was bored out of my. And he said at that point, I decided not to chase technical perfection, but to chase expression and, and, you know, making the connection as opposed to, to perfection.
So I agree. It's make it feel right. Make it feel like, you know, that's how, and that's part of how you create craft sort of a signature sound for a band. You just experiment, you do something and you find what feels right for the band. Not just what's right. You know, you know, what's funny too, but look what you just said.
It's a great analogy. And I'll probably end up using that next time somebody asks me about heaven bread, and I'm going to, I'm going to steal that from you. There's a story about yo-yo ma that this brings to me that I read somewhere in the New York periodical. I was talking with two of the great speakers of our Tom Rob Alley and man, those guys new shirts.
No, but what, what I was going to say about bread too, is that, you know, when you invite somebody back into the fold, when you've got a new drummer and a new guitarist, you know, because our other guys left in two thousands, You know, bread came back in, like he had been asleep for 20 years and woke up and was like back in the nineties.
Yeah. And he was like, you know, th the perfect story of this is like, we're, we're playing these nicer places, the city wineries of the world, you know, and Brett, and we're going to, we're going to have a little bourbon after the show and Brad's yelling for the bottle of Jack and I'm like, Brad, you know, there are other bourbons back in the day.
It was all Jack, Jack, give us back, you know? And I'm like, oh my God, Brad, there are so many other bourbons and we can have, and they were just like, Jack, we can't get you Jack Daniels. We don't have Jack Daniels here. You know? And it was, you know, somebody who had been kind of out of it, but was so excited to come back and relive those days since then he's refined his tastes a little bit in bourbon.
But he's still as the sardonic sarcastic. That's my little brother and we fits right in. You can say that because your family, right. You can make fun of his Ray on shirt. Yeah, that's right. That's right. Exactly right. That's exactly what I'm going to come back to threads for a second in the, the, I believe the Trek to the witching hour there's some Morse code going on in the background or being Morse code, being sung, not being played, but being sung.dot dash.
What you want to tell us? What that's is that spelling anything in particular or is it random at the end? That was Chani Leigh Janney. That was the first, that was one of the first songs we'd written together. She had had that song already and she, she said, I have this song called.dot dash. And I said, well, that's that can't be a song that is like an awful title chain.
Let's get one thing straight. So she played it for me. I was like, oh my God, no, this is the witching hour. This is. This is perfect for she's kind of witchy and that kind of thing anyway. And I said, let's call it that, but we'll put the.dot dash in there because you know, that was initially what the song was and.dot dash is meet me no.dot actually you and me, I think in Morse code that's, that's the whole idea behind it.
And then we ended up using that on the backs of our t-shirts and you know, it's on the album cover itself on the bottom of the.dot dash. It's like a huge part of it all. It's it's terrific. I love those little Easter eggs. I call them well on the Great Song Podcast. The more, you know, a couple of other things that I like about that album that I didn't get to touch on forever reaching.
I love and no, one's gonna break this heart again. Now that came out actually in September before you released the album in November, correct? Right, right, right. Did you, do you like the idea of putting out some singles before releasing and dropping the whole? Oh yeah, no. We, we did that with our last album in 2017 parachute.
We released, we released every song first, just because just to get ourselves back into people's social media posts and to raise awareness. And then at the end of the year, we put out the album of all the songs together, and then you get the package and the LP and the whole thing this time we thought, well, let's try it with two or three songs and see what happens.
And we did it. The great thing about this is that's much better than the way the nineties were. At least within the nineties, you would get, you know, that budget of 200 to $300,000 and you'd go in it for three to six months and you'd write and record an album and then you'd wait six months for it to be released.
And by the time you won the road, you were so sick of the album. You know what I mean as a band? So what we got to do is you get to go into the studio one weekend and record the witching hour, and then you're playing it that weekend. And then, you know, you're, you know, you've actually got it out there for everybody to hear it a month later, everything's still fresh and new.
It's, it's an exciting time to put out music. I think that's a great way to look at it. My favorite moment of the album is actually on no, one's gonna break this hard again at moment 3 55, when you elevate the vocals and it coincides perfectly with the music build it's, it's wonderful. And a lot of the research that's nice.
No, no problem. We're not just short people. That's right. And then you let the strings hold a bit and the staccato violin with the keyboard lines underneath. Perfect. That's wonderful. No, thank you. It's tough to sometimes it's tough to hit that live but. We do it. There've been times where we're singing the long note, looking at each other and wondering who's going to fall off.
typically it's me. But I have to remember during the song to take that breath before I hit that high note, because it is a long note, he played with a click live. Oh my God. No, no. That would drive me crazy. It's not very nineties. Yeah, well, no, I guess I guess the drummer would, you know, the drummer would have to be the one that clicked, but you know, I don't, I didn't even think he, I hope he does it in ears.
So maybe he does. I don't know. He's Zach newbie is a great drummer, so maybe he does. Speaking of speaking of hitting it live, I was really impressed with, I watched the lawn chairs and living rooms, documentary which is really interesting and kind of a cool look into, you know, your life in that, in that moment.
And you're playing these backyard shows and, and, you know private, you know, private events kind of things, but man, you are not holding back vocally and I can really appreciate that. I mean, you were just really going for it. Nobody was getting shortchanged, you know, at these, at these private performances.
Tell us a little bit about that period. And, and the, you know, I know at the time you were saying you really enjoyed it and you were like, let's do it again. Let's do more you know, tell us a little bit about the, the lawn chairs and living rooms. Yeah, well, I mean, we were in a terrible place financially.
I mean, you know, we had bought a house in 2008, you know, house mobile and everything, and we could hardly afford the mortgage, my wife and I, and our daughter. And then I had some lady asked me if I would come and play her birthday party and they had to let go of my ego a hundred percent and go, you know, yeah, I'll come and play your birthday party.
And then, you know, you go and play her birthday party. And it's amazing. There's 50 people in our living room and they're all paying attention and they all buy merge afterwards, you know? And it's like, I was like, what am I, what am I missed out on? And I sent an email out the next day and I booked like 52 shows the next day for the rest of that summer.
And just essentially with me and my guitar knocking on the door, people, I don't know, you know, that not knowing what I'm going to put you expect on the other side. And they were all great. I mean, this was back in 2008, so nobody was really doing house concerts then. Right. But I mean, I didn't, I'm not saying I invented the house.
that's going to be the headline for the YouTube, what I call it. And it was one of those moments, like the kids' records where people, you know, where I had a manager that was like, oh no, don't what are you doing? You know? And I had other peers that were going, what do you mean? You, you go into people's homes, you don't know them, you know, how can you, and you go alone.
And what if, you know, somebody is in a one woman in a wedding dress or something, you know what I mean? So, but, but that's part of the excitement is that, what is it going to be like? And so I did that and then I got it down to where. You know, like for instance, I realized, cause I don't have a PA system and I just had me and my guitar, I can play three or four of these a day.
And so the weekends, I would play five or six, like somebody from St. Louis would say, Hey, Brian, would you come down? And I'd say, well, it'd be, this is how much it's going to be to get me to come down. But let me see if anybody else wants to jump on that weekend and your price will come down. And so that's what we would do.
We would have everybody's price come down. If more people would jump on, they'd get a less expensive show and overhead overheads, nothing to me, you know, a drive down there and a rental car or something, and then, you know, play for the weekend and come back home. It was a great thing. And now it exhausted me.
I mean, after playing four or five shows a weekend in the summers, every, I mean I did over 800. 10 years or something like that. So crazy. And I just said, okay, vert pipe was taken off again, you know? And I said, I just can't, I'm not going to be able to do this anymore. So the capacity, but it did. So I retired that I think 20, 20 18 or 2017, right before the pandemic, which was good timing.
But one time in my life, I had good timing. Yeah. You're a step ahead of everybody. You were a smart head on the kids' album ahead on the house concert ahead on Wednesday. I've made a lot of mistakes. Believe me, seven mistakes has coming out of that. You know, you're, you're it hasn't been a fairy tale for you or for The Verve Pipe.
And so, you know, obviously, you know, we don't try to draw blood and tears on the show. We like to keep it positive. So let's spin it like this. What's something positive that your experience and even your struggles has taught you, that you can now either use to your advantage or pass on to other artists and performers.
I don't think I've reached the point yet where I can You know, I could well, there's no way I could go back to the time when I shunned, constantly shown the record label and the people that wanted to help me because I, my own ideas of how to do things had I, if I could go back, I would say I would work more with them as marketing team and publicity team, because it's a hard job to do all of that and write music, which is what I do now.
But the good thing about that is that I know how to do that, right, is that I'm more skilled at those kinds of things of how to push the music without, you know, doing the soft, sell on the music instead of like, you know, going around Hawking my wares underwear. But another thing that I stayed really positive about is that we have a song that really that was really gifted to me to be the writer of those songs were just out there.
And I just happened upon this song at the right time. And writing the freshmen and having people to this day, young people, new people, new freshmen, come to me and say, oh my God, that's our classes Anthem this year, you know, to go, wow. That's, I mean, I couldn't have planned that or expected that. And and I hang my hat on that all the time.
And I know the importance of what the song is to people will, you know, we always play it live. We're not one of the bands like, oh, we're past that. Right. You know, we play it long. We know it's a great. That it affects people in the audience when you play it live. And to this day, it's, you know, it's one of those songs that really kind of defines what the nineties is.
If you play, if you put, there are a handful of songs that there, I think if you put it on, you'd go, oh my God. Immediately transports you back to the nineties. Yeah. And I think the sound of it, which I can't take any credit for. I think with Jack, Joseph plead good with it and the way the band played together and everything, and the way the vocal came together, everything ended up being perfectly nineties.
And that is a, that's a really good feeling that that's the legacy. We'd love that feeling. We and Rob both grew up and then we were both in high school in the nine days. So you, you, you sang some anthems for us and this has been great. Ron, you've been a lot of fun. One last question. If you've got time for one more that we ask everybody.
So you're on tour either by yourself or with The Verve Pipe, you go into a gas station. What is your gas station? Snack, food of choice. And while you're thinking of it, I'll tell you mine. I would get a three Musketeers bar when I was growing up. My mom would say, you could have any candy bar you want, and it's the most ounces.
So I get a three Musketeers bar every time. They're all the same price. What is your gas station? Snack, food of choice. Hotdog, always the high speed way to speak to for 99 hot dog deal. And I would get that in a bag of Doritos and a diet Coke. And I was, I was a pig and it was amazing. Love it those days I'm afraid of over now, but that's nineties America right there.
Oh my God. It was the best. The Verve is not getting a hot dog.
It's great, man. Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with us today, Brian. We really appreciate it for sure. Thanks guys. Appreciate you all here, the man, thank you so much. Take care. Cheers. This is the Great Song. And that was Brian Vander, Ark lead singer songwriter for The Verve Pipe, a cool guy, such a cool thing to have him on and to be able to talk to, you know, all these folks who make these great shirts.
Yes. Great shirts. It's good times. I think what I'm going to start doing, actually, I'm going to steal his, I'm going to steal this song and use it for like, if there was something in your life that you were like, dude, we were only freshmen. You know what I mean? Like you can't, you can't blame me for that or you, you have to at least forgive me.
You know what I mean? We were only freshmen. I think I'm going to do it about our first episode of the show. Oh yeah. I'm going to just, just put a disclaimer at the beginning. We were first time out the gate. Yeah. We've learned so much. I didn't even know when it first started. The show was. I J.P. is like, I don't know what that is.
I'm like, just trust me. It's going to go into the air and people are going to be able to listen to it. I was like, this is going to be like what? 15, 20 minutes. Yeah. So can you imagine if our episodes had been 15 minutes long, we could have recorded an entire season in a day, the one day with no interviews.
That would have been incredible and disappointing. The things we would have to our 170 fifth season of the Great Song. Oh man. All right. That's going to wrap it up for this episode of the Great Song Podcast, but do not fret unless you're a guitar player then fret away. But otherwise don't fear. Cause we'll be back next week with another great episode.
Movie month kicking off. Oh yeah. Favorites. One of our fans. Let us go to the cinema. We'll see you next week on the Great Song Podcast until then. I'm Rob. I am J.P. go listen to some music.