"Music becomes almost a religion, yeah?"
Don’t know if you’ve heard, but Richard Ashcroft has an album out this week. It’s safe to say ‘Natural Rebel’, the former Verve frontman’s fifth solo album, has received a fairly mixed response – in his two-star review, NME’s Mark Beaumont concluded: “He’s so comfortable in his well-worn big ballad rut that he almost sounds like a pastiche of himself”. Richard wasn’t enamoured with the review, so burned an old copy of NME – he was on the cover – on Instagram. He’s a lucky man, with fire in his hands.
Anyway, the singer was on BBC Breakfast this morning, and it was a mighty entertaining watch, a reminder that they don’t make ’em like Richard Ashscroft any more. Here are five moments from his hair-raising appearance that’ll make you go, “Blimey! That was strange! Wasn’t expecting that!”
He slagged of NME (again!)
OK, admittedly, we were kind of expecting this. It’s a rock star’s job to be confounding and outlandish, so good on him for delivering. When BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty claimed that ‘Natural Rebel’ has been “critically received very, very nicely,” Ashcroft, to his credit, replied, “Has it!? Only by good-looking people. I have never had a bad review off a good-looking person…”
He explained that he’d turned down our interview request after reading the less than favourable review (which is weird, given that ‘United Nations of Sound’ received one-and-a-half stars from NME in 2010, and he was last on the cover in 2016). Well, enough of this tittle-tattle: it’s all just a bit of fun, isn’t it.
He broke the fourth wall!
Declaring that the set was like The Truman Show – the 1998 Jim Carrey movie about a man trapped in a TV show – he leapt up from the sofa and walked into the backdrop, a fake Manchester skyline. Richard, Tom Cruise called – he wants his bizarre chat show appearance schtick back.
And had a nice lie down
“We’ve been on the night shift in the music industry for a while, as you’d imagine”, Richard explained, reclining on the sofa for reasons that are still not entirely clear. He also revealed that he was “looking a bit Nancy Reagan” under his sunglasses and that he needed “an iron” on the bags under his eyes. It wouldn’t be the first time Richard Ashcroft had courted controversy with an unusual bag on national television.
He thinks Glastonbury’s overrated
The Verve headlined Glastonbury in 2008, but Richard wouldn’t he drawn into rose-tinted nostalgia about that fateful night. Instead he raised concerns that “the myth and the name [of the festival] have grown to such a proportion that they sell out before they’ve even told people what the acts are; I actually think that has taken away from the power of the music”. It’s bittersweet, Glastonbury – that’s life.
He said rock’n’roll is a “religion”
Preach it, brother. At the start of the interview, Munchetty and co-host Charlie Stayt commented that Richard was wearing sunglasses indoors, to which the singer replied: “I am the only one on the couch who can wear sunglasses right now.” Later, Ashcroft mused, “Music becomes almost a religion, yeah? Rock’n’roll is like a religion. So don’t ever question one of the key attributes.” Also! He implored someone on set to “stop eating those grapes – and any other cereal.” Grapes aren’t cereal! What an incredibly strange morning!