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New rock, family albums ahead for the Verve Pipe

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011

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After the warm reception for 2009's "A Family Album," the Verve Pipe is planning another set of kid/parent-friendly music for 2012.

But the Grand Rapids-based group might also be giving fans something else they've wanted for quite awhile.

"We're talking about doing another rock record -- though that's a slow go," says frontman Brian Vander Ark. It will mark the band's first new outing of that nature since "Underneath" in 2001, and Vander Ark predicts the tone of the album "will definitely be up."

"We talked about doing another album like (1996's platinum) 'Villains,' " says Vander Ark, 45, who remains from the original Verve Pipe lineup along with drummer and fellow songwriter Donny Brown. "But 'Villains' is kind of dated, I think with the grunge guitars.

"I think doing more acoustic rock is the way the band has gone. It makes more sense, too, than going back and trying to recapture those days of post-grunge."

Those were good days for the Verve Pipe, of course. And "Villains" success was largely due to "The Freshmen," a Top 5 smash on the Billboard 100 that also topped the Alternative Rock Songs chart. For many -- especially outside of Michigan -- it's the one song the Verve Pipe is known for, but 15 years later (actually 19 years, as the song first appeared on the 'I've Suffered a Head Injury' album in 1992) Vander Ark and his bandmates have nothing but love for the song.

"Dude, how can I be anything but thankful," says Vander Ark, who had a busy 2011 with an album of new material ("Magazine"), an authorized live "bootleg" and a holiday EP, "Wonderland," with his wife Lux. "The fact that it can stand the test of time and sustain this long is amazing to me.

"So I"m nothing but thankful, and I'm fortunate that song came to me. I could have written 'I'm Too Sexy,' you know? That was a hit song as well, but would I want to go out and perform [i]that[/i] song the rest of my life?"

The Verve Pipe and Crashing Cairo perform on Friday, Dec. 16, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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