If you’re like most Americans, all you know about Richard Ashcroft is that he was the frontman for one-hit wonders the Verve, the Lurch-like figure in their ”Bitter Sweet Symphony” video who knocked people over as he stalked down the sidewalk. Well, Ashcroft’s got something to say to you: ”F— off. Go and f—ing take a jump.”
A touchy guy with a lot of talent, Ashcroft, 28, hates being reduced to that one song. ”People have already made the decision about me,” he sighs. ”Maybe I’m a jaded f—ing guy, but I don’t know if people are ever gonna f—ing understand where I’m coming from.”
Ashcroft’s new album, Alone With Everybody, should help change that. A complex, mature work, Alone expands on the best songs from the Verve’s last record, Urban Hymns, adding layers of voices and sounds that swirl into soaring melodies. It’s his first-ever solo disc, released a year after the demise of the Verve. ”The band had run its course and things were becoming too painful,” Ashcroft says. ”It ended for the same reasons that all relationships end. It’s just the way it is, really. I don’t hold any resentments toward anyone anymore. You’ve got to let it go, get on with your life, not make such a f—ing big deal of it all.”
That also seems to be his attitude about commercial success, which is unusual for a guy whose last album sold 7 million copies worldwide. ”I’m comfortable with whatever happens,” he says. ”If the record kicks up a storm and I’m a f—ing superstar in America, then I’ll be a superstar in America. But it would be such a cool thing if it bombed. It would be one of those lost, fantastic records. There would be something bizarrely enjoyable about it doing nothing. I’d be happy if in 10 years’ time I could come to New York City and play to 500 people who have been with it [for a decade], because we would know what we share and we’d share something f—ing real and far more timeless than most of the things around. Don’t anyone for a second believe that I give a s— about conquering anywhere. I’ve already done my own conquering, and that’s coming to terms with putting my own stupid name on the bottom of a record and finishing it.” Now if he could just conquer that confidence problem.