School of fish

The Verve Pipe wriggles out from under a hit song

Maybe Brown feels indebted to the song, because it has, in fact, opened the door for people to hear other (and better) Verve Pipe material, like the Pearl Jam-inspired "Penny is Poison," or "Cup of Tea," which was actually their first single, but didn't fare so well on the charts.

"In the end, the buying public speaks," Brown says. "And a million people can't all be wrong."

Yeah? Tell that to the Spice Girls, amigo.
Yet two notable names should be mentioned when discussing the Verve Pipe. One is former Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison, who produced "Villains" for the band. The other is Kiss, for whom the Verve Pipe courageously acted as opening support throughout their U.S. and European tours.

"I'm a big Kiss fan," Brown says. "I have so much respect for those guys, you wouldn't believe it. I went out to the front after our first set, and people were like 'Hey, nice show, man.' But then all of a sudden, you just hear this big explosion: 'You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world, Kiss!' And there's like fire everywhere, and you're so blown away. There's never a dull moment with those guys on stage."

Perhaps the Verve Pipe picked up a cue from their mentors in Kiss, and it's starting to show in their live shows. Unfortunately, some of the more skeptical out there may never see these good-intentioned Midwestern boys because of distaste for "The Freshmen." And they've got a good point. But the more forgiving among you might want to consider it a youthful indiscretion from a band with more to say than what's on the surface.

After all, they were only freshmen.

The Verve Pipe will be at the Dallas Music Complex on Saturday, July 5, with Tonic and K's Choice.

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