The Verve Pipe promises to hit the Wenonah Park stage with a mix of its classic hits and new songs

When The Verve Pipe hits the stage along with Five For Fighting on Fri., Aug. 12, there will be nothing but mutual conviviality in the sound reverberating from the speakers.
Offering an hour-long set that covers the vast majority of their catalog, lead vocalist/songwriter Brian Vander Ark says the band sees to it that the hits, classics, and new songs are all well represented as they are now able to celebrate touring once again, post COVID-19 restrictions.

The Verve Pipe spend much of the COVID-19 lockdown working on new music, some of which is featured on this tour. (Photo courtesy of The Verve Pipe)“You know, typically we'll play an hour and a half or two hours, but it doesn't bother me,” says Vander Ark during a recent tour stop before hitting the stage. “So you're a little limited in what you can play and what you can't play, because people want to hear the hits. But we try to mix things up as much as we can.”

Vander Ark laughed at how fast a set list comes together for the shorter co-headline shows like these.

“We’re talking about 10 or 11 songs and we’ve got two songs we want to play from the new record. You’ve got that and ‘Never Let You Down,’ ‘Hero,’ ‘Cup of Tea,’ ‘Photograph,’ ‘Villains,’ ‘Freshmen,’ ‘Colorful’ – there’s a set right there! It’s all the favorites for the people.”

Celebrating the return of live music, Vander Ark is extremely proud of the band’s new album Threads, which was released Nov. 5 as the pandemic loosened enough to allow them to look ahead to book a tour. The album projects a solemn cohesiveness, which brings the listener back to song collections that were made to go together as a whole, rather than mere singles.

“That was the idea,” he says. “It was Channing’s (Channing Lee) idea to name it Threads, as it really seemed like there was a thread that could go through every single one of those songs (and) make it a cohesive effort. Even though the themes shift back and forth from a female perspective and a male perspective, I think that there's some common ground there and I'm really proud of this one.”

The Verve Pipe also promises to deliver many of their fan's favorites during the concert. (Photo courtesy of The Verve Pipe)For Vander Ark, sharing the writing and vocal duties with Channing Lee offered a fresh perspective for the band to balance ideas upon, while having plenty of time to craft a new album.

“COVID was a reason to create I think, you know, because everybody was home again. That's when we really kicked it into gear with the new album and spent daily sessions working on it and getting it the way we wanted it to be. That was the most important thing, I think.

“After having 50 shows canceled, you had no choice. It was the universe's way of forcing us into being creative.”

Five For Fighting and The Verve Pipe became a perfect package which hits Bay City’s Wenonah Park Fri., Aug. 12. The show begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are available online. or at the State Theatre Box Office, 913 Washington Ave. in Downtown Bay City.

“It's pretty amazing how that came about,” said Vander Ark. “It was just me reaching out to John (Ondrasik, Five For Fighting vocalist), who was an old friend of mine I hadn't talked to in 10 to 15 years. I saw he was doing some things for the veterans. I said, ‘John, I appreciate all your effort for the veterans and we just re-connected.

“He said, ‘Hey, we're thinking about going back out with the band,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, we're gonna go out. So why don't we do something together?’ He said, ‘Yeah, that sounds great.’ Within a couple of weeks we had contracts and everything signed. And now we're in our final week of doing it and it's been amazing.”

The Verve Pipe's latest album is titled Threads. It was released in November. (Photo courtesy of The Verve Pipe)Vander Ark is looking forward to returning to Bay City where he recently began tracking a new solo album with producer/former Verve Pipe bassist Andy Reed at Reed Recording Company in Bay City.

“Andy and I have been working together for a while,” says Vander Ark. “He offered up his space for me and I was like, ‘Oh, that's amazing!’ He's got great equipment. Part of living the life of music is to keep writing, you know, keep trying new things creatively. So I've written a couple of songs that I didn't feel were Verve Pipe-esque enough. I said, ‘Let's try these songs out.’ We went in and we recorded a handful of songs and that came out great.

“Andy’s a great producer, terrific musician, plays on the album, and helped me work out a lyric or two. He's terrific, a great force in the Bay Area. The guys from Fastball the other day mentioned Andy Reed, so you know everybody knows him.”

Vander Ark is planning on taking his time with this solo album while he gets to go out this fall to promote Threads with The Verve Pipe.

“Well, I want that solo album to be right,” he says. “I haven’t done a solo album since 2011, so 10 years. I really want to come out with something that I feel as proud of as I do the Threads album. And in order to do that, I think I have to re-work lyrics and re-work lyrics and re-work lyrics until I say exactly what I want to say. I still regret some of the songs I've written in the past. You know, The Freshman is not a particularly well-written lyric, and drives me crazy. But that's just the way it is.”

In the meantime, Vander Ark is looking ahead to a fall tour and more ideas, as The Verve Pipe plans to headline shows. There may also be another package tour announced soon.

“Mostly in the Midwest we'll do a headliner tour. We’ve got a handful of shows coming up. I think Doug's (Buttleman, manager) working to get us on another tour with another band where I think we really flourish. You know, a night of entertainment. This is a really great night of entertainment with Five For Fighting. I mean, they're a terrific band (and) John's a great storyteller. I think we're a great band, and we complement each other very nicely. And so I'd love to do those kinds of things more.”
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