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2010-09-10 10:03:48|  分类: Interviews&repor |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Source:  A Breed Apart

He lost his father at 11, nearly lost his mind at 20, and lost his band, the Verve, not once but twice. Is Richard Ashcroft fated to be alone? As he prepares to release his first solo album, Sylvia Patterson met him

'I had a dream," says Richard Ashcroft. "It was just the other night. This voice told me everything would be all right when I was 50. And I woke up going (clasps head in terror, bawls), 'Fifty?!'"

Richard Ashcroft is 28 and already feels "like an old man". He feels he's lived life "three times faster" than his perception of what is normal, but living life three times faster is the official speed of rock'n'roll. In 1997, when the Verve came back from their initial "death" in 1995, Ashcroft wanted first-time Verve viewers to have an experience "like seeing The Godfather or Apocalypse Now for the first time". It's less megalomania, more the enthusiasm of a child; he simply wants you to experience life like he does, on as profound a scale as possible. To feel, for certain, that you are alive.

It's December 1999. We're in a studio in west London, and Ashcroft looks like a fugitive poacher. Fawn duffel coat, chequered Farmer Giles hat, long hair spiralling down to his neck, young black labrador twirling round his feet. Everything about him is unique and expressive; his deep, northern brogue; his angular features, like a Picasso gone right; deep blue crystal eyes; pole-thin limbs and long-fingered hands that act out scenes as he narrates them. His nose, a boxer's from the front, is Audrey Hepburn's in profile.

Ashcroft runs on passion, a nervy, genial man who can talk, if you let him, in hour-long sentences with no regard for tense or precision of thought. Subjects include the "shocking power of MTV" after the Bittersweet Symphony video changed his life for ever (wags would shout out of car windows, "'Ere, mate! The video's finished!"); Haigh Hall, the Verve's 33,000-peopled homecoming show in Wigan in May 1998 - "Top, coming from a town that'd given you fuck all, standing there saying, 'I did it'"; doing "the total rock star thing" of buying a big house in the country for escape, getting the builders in and having 18 months of "someone staring through the window going, 'Ooh, he eats Weetabix too!'"; Oasis ("I think they might be the last of their kind: The Rock Band"); his wife Kate, ex-Spiritualized keyboard player, who's here today, "the most important person in my life"; the imminent birth of their son, which they hope will arrive on time (mid-March), "otherwise it's an Aries" (Aries males being notoriously blokey).

He is also a human spliff. Spend any time with Ashcroft and you feel stoned and start thinking about infinity. Free drugs! What a guy! He's Richard... Mashcroft! Heeheehee! And then he plays you a new song called Brave New World and everyone shuts up.

"Look at the state I'm in," sings the familiar, pensive voice - except warmer, clearer, even better - over soul-skewing country guitar. "I'm sittin' at the table, hearin' a song... wishin' I was able... stable. Naaaaaaah... nah-na-na-na-na-naah!" Blimey. Welcome back, dude.

February 2000. Standing on the deck of a privately-hired tourism boat floating down the Thames, Ashcroft is enjoying an afternoon off. He's never done this before. Bounding from one side to the other, he marvels, wide-eyed, "Look at it - it's beautiful." Today, the man Noel Gallagher calls Captain Rock, the man who inspired Cast No Shadow, looks like a fugitive prince: black knitted hat forcing bonny curlicues on to the 45-degree angle of his cheek-bones, white, flecked, woolly jumper zipped up the neck, over which shimmers the world's finest, vertical-collared, deep red velvet jacket.

Living life, as he has done, at the speed of rock'n'roll, Richard Ashcroft is now into his sixth life. He was a boy, then he was in Verve, then he was in the Verve after US jazz label Verve threatened legal action. Then, in 1995, the Verve split up just as the mesmerising, melancholic History single was publicly eulogised by the Gallaghers; internal relationships wrecked through the poor communication, exhaustion and drug psychosis underlying the making of their second LP, A Northern Soul. Blame was apportioned to lifelong tension between Ashcroft and "genius" guitarist Nick McCabe. "I was being a miserable bastard, basically," said McCabe in 1997. "They got sick of my fucking sad face all the time. I have mental problems. I just got paranoid about everything. So they sacked me."

The Verve "couldn't exist without Nick", said Ashcroft. He fled to Cornwall and began his fourth life as an unemployed nomad with no home, possessions or money. He reappeared a year later, and the remaining ex-members (with additional guitarist Pete Tong) began work on what would become the space-pop-country-rock classic Urban Hymns. Then, six months prior to the album's release in September 1997, Ashcroft and McCabe papered over the bomb site of their relationship and the Verve existed again. Until April 28 1999, that is, when they split up for precisely the same reasons they split up the first time.

And now it looks like he could be the new Gram Parsons. With Glen Campbell's rhinestone boots on. Of the five songs ready to hear on an album still with no name, two - Brave New World and You On My Mind In My Sleep - are timeless, country-soul classics in the Campbell and Elvis mould. There's the odd, winding, multilayered I Get My Beat, and the immeasurably sad Everybody. Which makes the first single, A Song For the Lovers, an anomaly: it's a shamelessly joyous, clap-along pop song for girls about "jumping into the unknown".

These are simple, enormous, orchestral, beautiful songs for emotional catharsis, for romantics, for the vulnerable and the lost-in-love. McCabe's spectral guitar is gone, but it sounds like the next Verve album; it sounds like music to help people. "I want to make music that makes people cry, or elevates people to a different place," says Ashcroft. "I think it has to do that. That's why so much music makes you actually feel ill. And there's nothing depressing about it, nothing wrong with it. Look at any poetry, poetry from 300 years ago. What do you think they were talking about? What do you think man's been talking about since he had the words to express it? Before that? Love, life, death, quest for happiness, misery, war..."

Ashcroft has never talked about the troubles in the Verve. "I couldn't begin to go into what happened," he says, staring across the table, through the window and over the murky water. "The book can only be written when I'm dead. Not from any personal disgrace but it's - it's a story full of... full of things that are gonna really upset people. And you wouldn't fookin' believe it."

Years ago, James Dean Bradfield said of Richey Manic, "He's yet to develop a second skin." Some people are like this: they 'feel' more than others. Ashcroft is another. When he was five, encouraged by his skygazing grandfather, he already had a profound awareness of the absurdity of life, of existing "on a ball spinning in infinity". At school, he was such a nervous child that he was sacked from the nativity play: "I was shaking so much, shaking with my frankincense. Terrible nervous guy." At nine, he'd wander round his home town thinking, "Why Wigan? Why? I used to get depressed over aesthetics. I felt like my valve was open way too wide."

RA的音速青春 - the verve - verve中文网
RA的音速青春 - the verve - verve中文网

The death of his father from a brain hemorrhage remains the single most life-defining experience he's known. He was 11. "I don't think I would've ended up doing this if he'd stayed alive," he says. "It just sent me off. Definitely. Booted me off into the chaos at speed. And I wanted it. The bubble had burst - who knows what the next day's gonna bring? - and all those things trigger off not only a sadness but a sense of urgency and a need for adventure and a need to do more, perhaps, than he did in 41 years."

By the time he was 14, he'd find himself on holiday in Cornwall telling people, "You better remember me - you better remember Richard Ashcroft." The confidence just grew and grew. He'd always stood out, anyway, "because I've got a big nose and a big pair of lips and look a bit strange". His passion for music became everything: the reason he walked out of school exams (because they meant nothing), the reason he was referred to a school psychiatrist (he refused to go), the reason they trawled the local river for his body, thinking he was dead (he wasn't) - thinking, at least, he was on drugs ("I probably was"). He immersed himself in psychedelic culture, and by the time Verve began rehearsing in a cave in Wigan in 1988 ("the motivation was to make music to stop boredom"), Ashcroft was already a student of telekinetics, astrology, chaos theory, creative visualization and mystical folklore.

Ashcroft, like most people, discovered drugs alongside music. At first, the drugs were principally "to hear music on 50,000 different levels - I wanted to be blown apart". The psychedelics worked. So he used them for aesthetics, "to see solid objects morph into things that my mind wanted them to be", and, finally, hilarity, "to cry laughing just looking at, y'know, my mate's eyebrow!" He watched chemical culture explode and, as ever, asked himself why.

Did he ever feel like he'd lost the plot? "Probably," he nods, "a little bit after Northern Soul. I didn't feel too good. Just psychosis." Did he have a spell with heroin? "No. I think I've always understood that, to put my personality in the womb and comfort it from any thoughts of fear, y'know, worry or anxiety, would be like, putting me in a coffin."

Later this year the Richard Ashcroft soul revue beams into town with a host of sonic wizardry, including DJ Shadow on transcendental vibes. He'll be playing the Verve's songs, too, because they belong to him. He hopes you'll have "an experience". That you'll feel ill. And that way you might feel better. That's how it's been for him, "the chapter" now closed, between his first life as a boy and his fifth, the end of the Verve.

"From 11 to 26," he says, as the boat glides back into its port in Fulham, "was 15 years of rocketin' in a certain direction to fulfill whatever needs. And it doesn't make me feel depressed now, I can dip into it all - my dad, my family, the Verve, everything - and take out the good stuff. And that's what everyone else should do. All of it's nothing, really, compared to how you feel. And right now, floating down this river, emotionally I feel better than I've felt for... 20 years, almost. To where life existed on a 'get on your bike, go round the corner to your mates' level. Even though there's all these huge things going on, I feel more centered than I've ever felt in my life. Amazing. So who knows who I'd be if I hadn't done all that shit." He suddenly clutches his head. "Doesn't even bear thinking about!"

Still, only another 22 years till everything's "all right". Meanwhile, this ordinary, extraordinary, beautiful, big-nosed man is the most human rock'n'roll star on earth. That's why his songs, those soul-saving aural drugs, do work. He's just like us. Us, mind, with a much better jacket on

RA的音速青春 - the verve - verve中文网 

尽管Richard Ashcroft那时才28岁(现年36岁),但他觉得自己已象一个“老年人”,他以“比常人快3倍”的“摇滚速度”经历了一连串的人生变故。这也难怪,短短的几年时间里他的乐队The Verve还有他自己的个人生活都发生了太大的变化:1995年乐队散伙后又于1997年重新组队,并推出了广受推崇的《Urban Hymns》(城市圣歌)专辑,被Oasis誉为“最后一支摇滚乐队”;主唱Richard的一言一行被媒体追逐,随后他与Spiritualized乐队的键盘手Kate结婚生子;1999年The Verve再次宣布解散,Richard作个人音乐发展……
  2000年2月的一个下午,Richard在一艘泰晤士河游船上接受了记者的采访,谈起了The Verve的历史和他那“比常人快3倍”的生活。 Richard Ashcroft生长在英国的北方小城镇维根(Wigan),中学时便与一帮朋友组成了乐队Verve。后来由于受到美国的爵士厂牌Verve的起诉,乐队更名为The Verve。1995年正当来自第二张专辑《A Northern Soul》《北方魂》中的单曲“History”(历史)广受好评时,乐队突然宣布解散。外界猜测乐队成员间的沟通问题、创作的艰辛、毒品问题及主唱Richard和天才吉他手Nick McCabe的长久不和导致了乐队的解体。“我是个可恶的家伙,”Nick在对外界解释时说:“他们厌烦透了我那张老是拉长的脸,我对任何事都容易发火,所以他们解雇了我。”
  但Richard认为The Verve没有Nick不能继续存在下去。于是他离开了乐队,身无分文跑到了康维尔(Cornwall)过起了流浪生活。一年后他才重新回来,与乐队的剩余成员开始了《Urban Hymns》的录制工作。在唱片于1997年9月正式发行前的6个月,Richard和Nick终于冰释前嫌,两人再次为The Verve而合作,直到1999年4月28日乐队因为几乎与上次同样的原因而再次解散。但这次散伙前,他们实实在在红火了一把,《Urban Hymns》被誉为space-pop-country-rock(空间-流行-乡村-摇滚)的经典专辑,而Oasis的Noel Gallagher则称Richard为“摇滚船长”,并以他为灵感创作了“Cast No Shadow”。
  谈起他在维根时的过去,Richard说:“早在5岁时我就意识到了生命的荒谬。”上学时,他由于过于神经质而被学校开除。“我是个十分容易紧张的家伙,而且经常控制不住地发抖。9岁时,我就在镇里游荡来游荡去,不停地想‘为什么在维根?为什么?’。” 11岁那年,Richard的父亲因脑溢血而去世,这让他真正地意识到了生命的意义。“如果我的父亲现在还活着的话,我的生活肯定不是现在这个样子。”Richard解释说:“他的死让我的生活飞快地加速了起来。幻想已经破灭——谁能预料明天会发生什么?——这不仅让我有点悲伤,更让我有种紧迫感,有种一种想要去闯荡、做更多事的愿望,我不愿意象我父亲那样,41岁一事无成地死去。” 当他14岁时,Richard开始变得充满自信,他总是尽量出跳,“因为我有一个大鼻子、一双厚唇,看上去有点异样。”随后音乐为他的生活注入了激情,1988年便有了Verve乐队,他们开始在维根的一个地下室排练,“最初做音乐的动机仅仅是为了打发无聊的时间”。受到继父的影响,Richard那时沉浸于迷幻艺术中,对于各种神秘的、实验的东西特别着迷,因此在乐队中也特别疯狂。表演时他会不停地摇头晃脑、四肢狂舞、上窜下跳,就是现在看来还是让人瞠目结舌。
  “从11岁到26岁,这15年来生活一直以火箭般的速度发展着,我的父亲、我的家庭、The Verve、所有的一切并没有让我感到忧伤,我始终看到了好的一面。”看来Richard显然对他目前的处境相当满意。在经过了前一段时间的休整后,Richard开始了他的个人音乐生涯。
  这张尚未命名的个人专辑目前录好了5首歌。其中的2首“Brave New World”(勇敢新世界)和“You On My Mind In My Sleep”(你在我睡梦中出现)带有Glenn Campbell、“猫王”式的乡谣-灵魂曲风(country-soul),“I Get My Beat”则显得古怪、结构复杂,还有曲调异常悲伤的“Everybody”(每个人),而专辑的首支单曲“A Song For The Lovers”(恋人之歌)则是首充满着阳光般的欢乐、可以随口跟唱的流行歌曲。这些并不是反叛的摇滚乐,它们只是些简单的、美丽的、动听的、宣泄情感的歌曲,给所有浪漫的情人们,所有敏感脆弱的、迷失在爱中的人们。McCabe鬼魅般的吉他声消失了,但它们仍听上去象The Verve下一张专辑中的歌,让人为之动容的歌。
  “我想要创作那些让人哭泣或者给人们带来另一种心境的音乐。”Richard说道。这也难怪,Stone Roses的Ian Brown会认为The Verve的音乐很压抑。“看看300年前的诗歌,人们早就开始谈论这些内容了,爱、生命、死亡、对幸福的追求、悲剧、战争……这并没有什么压抑或什么不对。” 正因此Richard在《Everybody》中写下了如下的歌词:
  “每个人终将感受到死亡的重量/去发现你会将什么留置于身后/有时你没有机会去知道地点与原因/就让它将你脆弱的思维折断” 尽管听上如此悲伤,但事实上却充满着对生命的珍惜。而在现实生活中Richard和他的妻子Kate正在期待着一个新生命的诞生。 Richard和Kate初次相识于1992年,当时Spirituzlized乐队为Verve作暖场演出。在推出《A Northern Soul》之前的一段时间里两人相爱了。当Richard第一次见到Kate时便意识到她就是他的终生伴侣。“我在梦中叫着她的名字,梦想着和她度过余生。现在也是,我要和Kate一起变老,和她一起度过所有的时间。”为此,他现在正“努力使音乐成为生活中的一部分而不是全部”。“没有Kate的话,我不可能做出这张专辑。”Richard解释说是Kate陪伴他度过了乐队解散后的那段艰难时刻。

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