Singer-songwriter talks about solo career, reuniting Verve Pipe

January 20, 2009 | Events
By Vicki L. Kroll

I used to be a big star, depending on who you ask
Made a million friends in minutes, but the minutes didn’t last …
With everything we have in mind for you
It’s most important that you find
That ‘use to be’s’ mean nothing and ‘gonna be’s’ are fine …
When everything is said and done, the beauty is the best is yet to come …

“Evangeline” by Brian Vander Ark

Vander Ark

Vander Ark

After concentrating on his solo acoustic career, Brian Vander Ark is ready to rock.

“I’m writing right now for a new Verve Pipe record, and it’s a little bit of a different style, but I’m getting into that rock mode again,” he said. “I feel like it’s time for me to collaborate again. I’ve done three solo records, and I feel really good about the quality of those records, but I feel it’s time to work with other people and to explore new ground.

“I’m sure once I get back into the studio with the band and start dealing with the idiosyncratic behaviors of everyone again, I’m going to long for the solo days,” the singer-songwriter-guitarist joked.

Vander Ark reunited with guitarist A.J. Dunning, drummer Donny Brown and keyboard player Doug Corella for a few concerts around the holidays. John Conners strapped on the bass for some shows, and Joel Ferguson played bass for a few gigs.

The Verve Pipe is best-known for its 1996 release, Villains, which featured “The Freshmen” and “Photograph.” The band’s last disc, Underneath, was released in 2001.

Since then, Vander Ark has recorded three solo efforts: Resurrection (2003), Angel, Put Your Face On (2006) and Brian Vander Ark (2008).

Vander Ark

Vander Ark

For his latest CD, the Holland, Mich., native teamed up with producer Bill Szymczyk, who worked with The Eagles, The Who and Joe Walsh, among others.

“These are albums that I grew up with, The Eagles’ record especially, Hotel California, which was one of the first songs I learned to play on acoustic guitar,” Vander Ark said during a phone interview from his home in Grand Rapids, Mich. “[Szymczyk’s] a phenomenal producer, a great engineer and a real song guy — he knows a good song when he hears it and he knows a bad one, too, and he let me know that some of the stuff I’d written was not up to par.”

Songs that made the cut include “Evangeline” and “Lily White Way.”

“ ‘Evangeline’ is kind of a father-to-daughter advice song — I don’t know what advice an ex-rock star can give to a little girl — but the whole point is just go out and don’t listen to the naysayers,” he said. “Just be yourself. If you want to be an artist, be an artist, and if you want to work at a bank, work at a bank.”

Vander Ark said “Lily White Way” is a social comment.

“We moved from the very edgy part of town in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to a less artistic, more suburban area because the edgy part of town wasn’t very conducive for raising a little one. And it was just an observation of suburbia, I think, and the darkness underneath it all. And I had that misconception of our neighborhood until I actually got to know my neighbors and found out they were closet liberals and really loved this song.”

Vander Ark is touring in support of his self-titled disc and will play Friday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m. in UT’s Doermann Theater on Main Campus. Tickets are $15 and available at Danberry Realtor offices, Ramalama Records, and at the door. UT students with ID can purchase $10 tickets at Rocket Copy, Student Union Room 2525.

Opening the show will be Lux Land. The singer-songwriter’s most recent release is Summer Hours (2007), and she is working on a disc to be titled After the Avalanche. She is married to Vander Art.

A portion of ticket and merchandise sales will go to the Danberry Treasure Chest/Toledo Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“It’s important to me that I leave some sort of legacy as a songwriter,” he said. “There would be no greater joy on my deathbed than to look back on a catalog of music and know that I’ve affected people in a positive way.”

Click to access the login or register cheese