Return of the Legend: An Interview with Richard Ashcroft
Richard Ashcroft. At one time, the leader of The Verve, one of the most iconic and successful bands of the 1990s. Then he performed solo, and after that he disappeared somewhere. After 6 years spent in a distance from the world, he returned, and in complete riot, says Mark Beaumont.
When rock stars disappear from the public eye and go into the wild, what do they do? They can barricade themselves in drug traffickers, experience nervous breakdowns in rehabilitation clinics or travel to the most remote corners of the planet with a backpack at the ready.
But Richard Ashcroft went the farthest.
“For four years I haven’t even had a mobile phone,” says one of the most mysterious rock musicians, creator of “Bittersweet Symphony” and the album “Urban Hymns” with a circulation of 10 million. “After all, before that I was a slave to this device. How many times have you looked aimlessly at the screen of your mobile phone and think about why you are doing this? Do you really need to look there now or is it just a habit that you cannot control?”
After Ashkfort finished performing the United Nations Of Sound, a rap rock critically accused of criticism in 2010, giving just a few acoustic sets over the past 6 years, today Richard has burst out of the thicket like a wild wolf. Richard arrives at a photo studio in the west of London in this form, as if he had just thrown Molotov cocktails somewhere: a shaved head, dark glasses, a scarf. He says excitedly, as if he were an enlightened monk, finally breaking his vow of silence.
After so many years, he finally emerged from solitary confinement in the spirit of Joseph Fritzl (an Austrian convicted of forcibly keeping his daughter in an underground soundproof bunker in the basement of his own house since 1984 – ed.). Richard wrote the last 6 years in his basement, between the creative impulses, “playing the role of a father and depicting a normal life with a dog walking and collecting children for school.”
Getting rid of the ever-distracting mobile, he hastily repaired the “new old keyboards” and set about new game techniques, trying to revive the melody of “Urban Hymns”.
“Recording studios are closing down, record sales are falling rapidly, the entire music industry is changing. I needed to rethink how to create great albums again. The new song” Out Of My Body “was written in the spirit of” A Song For The Lovers “,” Bittersweet Symphony ” “A real old-school composition, written with the help of modern technology and with already familiar elements, so that you get something that you have not heard before.”
The first song of the album contains the words: “I feel like I’m number one again. It’s like I’m reborn.” Is this such a comeback album?
I can’t say that for me this is some kind of epic comeback. It feels like you’re going through a storm. I lost who could not get through his worst moments.
Did you feel annoyed to hear critics overtaking the album “United Nations Of Sound”?
When you are alone, without a group that can support you, people attack you because they consider you weak. That was what Darwin was talking about. For critics, a lone musician who used to be in a band is a kind of lame individual. Although in fact, now I’m stronger. In the days of Urban Hymns, The Verve became a cult group, and now people shout that the king is naked. After I was left alone, the criticism pours itself on. I have no vengeful sentiment, but over the past few years some people have truly crossed the line.
And then what?
People get the answer. Something like “If I get to you, better watch out, I know your name, and one day I will find you.” Once a guy in his review of the concert almost bluntly stated that he would have thrown a bottle at me if he had met me at a bar. Unfortunately for him, I found him. And when I found him, he realized that it was better not to rush at me with such remarks. You can treat Chris Martin like that, but not me. Hatred and other negativity only kindled my emotions. And unfortunately for those who criticize me, every word that expresses their disappointment in me only adds fuel to my fire.
Have you ever given up on the music business?
Oh yes, I didn’t even have to give up. Artists are being sold like slaves, they stab a knife in the back, instead of trying to develop a suitable British alternative. Indicate where to go. Our culture has been consumed by the mainstream.
But surely the stunning success of Urban Hymns, and even Oasis, helped bring an alternative to the mainstream?
But in our country this [alternative] is better. You can collect at least a hundred songwriters and performers in the next talent show, but they can never reach the level of Noel’s great song sung by Liam, never reach the level of “Live Forever” or the level of “Lucky Man” of The Verve. Everyone understands this.
Do you feel responsible for today’s flood of the stage by the performing artists?
Rather, I would blame Neil Young.