JAZ SUMMERS, manager of THE VERVE, speaks frankly to NME about the band's future...

THE VERVE‘s manager Jaz Summers has told NME in an exclusive interview that he does not know whether guitarist Nick McCabe (pictured) will ever record with the band again or even if The Verve will ever release another album.

Summers spoke last week as The Verve dispersed for a week’s holiday before their three-week US tour begins on July 28. McCabe is not participating in the tour. Summers also reported that Richard Ashcroft has written two new songs which the band rehearsed during their recent stint at Music Bank Studios in Bermondsey, South London. He added that they looked likely to play at least one of the songs on the US tour.

Summers also revealed that the band have abandoned plans to tour with a string section but will be accompanied on the American dates, V98 and Slane Castle shows by pedal steel player BJ Cole and percussionist Steve Sidelnyk. “They seem to be very happy with the rehearsals. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be doing the gigs would they?” reasoned Summers.

“They’ll be playing most of the set which they played at Haigh Hall (Wigan, England). Richard has a couple of new songs that they may be doing. One definitely, maybe both. There are no titles as yet. Richard wrote and demo-ed them at Olympic (Studios in Barnes) in April but he hasn’t played them to anybody (outside the band). They’ve definitely rehearsed them. And ‘This Time’ has been added to the set.”

Summers declined to discuss the events that led to McCabe’s refusal to tour but intimated he was as mystified as the rest of the world.

“I’m not gonna make any comment about what the hell’s gone on. Do you know why? I don’t know. I literally don’t know. Nick decided he couldn’t tour. They said, ‘OK, we’ll tour without him’. That’s it. There’s nothing else other than what we put in that press release. I’m not gonna get into when he told me he wasn’t gonna tour, it’s pointless.”

Summers reacted angrily to accusations in NME from a friend of the band that Richard Ashcroft is treated better than the other members of The Verve and that had caused friction in the band.

“Richard’s not treated any different from the rest of the band,” Summers said. “It’s bollocks. For me, as a manager, it’s not in my interest. You’ve got five guys in the band you treat them all the same.”

Asked what his reaction was when Nick informed him he wasn’t going to tour, Summers told NME to “fuck off” before revealing: “I really don’t know whether he will record with the band ever again. I’ve spoken to Nick. It’s not my place to say anything about it.

“Slane is the last gig, it’s always been the last gig. I don’t know whether they will record after that. I didn’t know before, I don’t know now. Maybe they’re gonna make another record. Maybe they won’t. I’ve no idea. Nobody’s really dealt with that. What they’ve dealt with is the problem we’ve got at the moment. Do they tour or don’t they tour? Maybe the stress of touring is too much for Nick.”

Meanwhile, The Verve’s US tour has undergone more venue changes and cancellations. The band’s show at the Montreal Molson Centre has been cancelled while their show at the 7,800-seater Paul E Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts (August 3), has been moved to the 4,000-seater Harborlights Pavilion.

“They felt that with Massive Attack and Nick McCabe dropping out that they couldn’t fill the bigger-sized arenas,” said Mike Kenney, assistant marketing manager at Tsongas Arena. The band have already down-sized shows in New York from Madison Square Garden (20,000 cap.) to Hammerstein Ballroom (4,000) (August 5 & 6), and Chicago Rosemont Horizon (14,000) to Aragon Ballroom (4,800) (July 28). However, The Verve are now close to selling out their two shows in New York as well as their concerts in Chicago and Houston.

Summers commented: “Promoters have said the tour is going well at a time when all other tours in America are crashing. But we had to make a decision on Madison Square Garden. We looked at it and thought, ‘We know we can sell 8,000 or a bit more but in Madison Square that’s gonna look a bit dodgy’. We made a decision and stuck with it.”

No announcement has been made as to who might replace Massive Attack as support act on the US dates.