Before they were called The Verve, Richard Ashcroft’s lot were actually pretty good. This is a song from their first album, A Storm in Heaven, and funnily enough as a naive teenager I had absolutely no idea how obviously completely off their tits they are in this video.
It occurred to me the other day that since my fanzine came out 17 years ago and early issues had a print run of just 50 copies, it’s pretty unlikely that any survived. I’m just trying to preserve the odd bits for posterity, and one thing that springs to mind is my surreally disastrous 1993 interview with Richard Ashcroft from Verve, back when they were good. I don’t even have a copy of the issue myself, so I’m writing this from memory. Funnily enough, it’s just one of those things you don’t forget.
My first impression is of a tall, angular man who carries an air of boredom and obligation. He’d rather not be here but has nothing better to do and may as well do as he’s asked. He’s polite and obliging, and agrees to cross the road from the Brighton hotel to the pier-side amusement park and pose in the teacup ride while I snap away on the £7 camera my friend’s mum bought me for my birthday.
I’m not sure whether he gets my little joke of getting the famous nutter to sit in the Mad Hatter’s beverage recepticle, but if he does, he doesn’t let on.
It’s a cool, clear day with brilliant sunshine, and the photos – long since lost – turn out great. Verve are a band on the ascendant, and the first singles All In The Mind and She’s A Superstar are breathtaking dreamscapes of psychedelia; the sound of a long, lonely journey at night. If Borderlands had been released in ’93, Verve would be the soundtrack.
So we head back inside and Ashcroft sits in detached silence. I lean back on the sofa opposite and shut my eyes. I am sixteen years old and don’t know what the f*** I am doing. It’s the third interview I’ve ever done, and the other two were only weeks before. I don’t even have a tape recorder. Ashcroft looks resolutely unimpressed. He waits for me to begin. Panic. I blurt out the first question and it’s all downhill from there.