Interview: The Verve Pipe

Best known for their 1996 #1 Alternative Rock hit “The Freshmen,” the Verve Pipe spent the last decade releasing nothing but children’s music. This year marks their return to the adult realm with the release of Overboard. We caught up with lead singer and only original member of the band, Brian Vander Ark to talk children’s music, “The Freshmen,” and Jeff Daniels’ movies.

Your last two albums have been children’s albums, what made you want to make the jump to that type of music?
It’s hard to be the angst-ridden rocker when you have kids. It only made sense to lighten things up a bit. Plus there was so much mediocre kid’s music out there (although there was some good too, Dan Zane especially), I thought – let’s make Sgt Pepper’s for kids! Turns out, that wouldn’t have been legal, but we took a stab at some other tunes anyway.

Overboard is your first album geared towards adults since 2001’s Underneath. Was it hard to return to writing for adults after such a long layoff?
Odd at first – getting back into the groove of writing and recording darker themes was tough. But once I was there, I couldn’t get out. In fact, a few times our mixer, John Holbrook asked if everything was okay with me? haha.

The haunting title track from your album was co-written with Jeff Daniels. How did that collaboration come about?
Jeff and I met a few years ago and have a mutual respect for the others songwriting, story telling talents. I thought it made sense to turn to him when I had a great story and didn’t know how to fit it into a song. He was a tremendous help.

What’s your favorite Jeff Daniels movie?
Squid and the Whale. LOVE IT

You are still best known for your 1996 hit “The Freshman.” Why do you think that song connected so well?
I don’t mean to sound trivial, but I believe it connected so well because everyone was a freshmen at some point in their lives. Having a decent melody and lyric certainly helped, but that was the gist I think.

Are there any songs on Overboard that you feel could be that type of hit?
Oy, tough one. Story-wise, “Overboard” is pretty close. “Hit and Run” is a huge favorite with crowds.

Finally, what’s next for the Verve Pipe?
Planning a tour, thank goodness!

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