It’s not everyday that students get the opportunity to have a professional musician come to their school, especially one as well known as Brian Vander Ark, the lead singer of The Verve Pipe. On March 12, students got to watch Vander Ark perform some of his hit songs, then had the opportunity to ask questions.
Sam Peters, sophomore at Gull Lake, was one of the students who helped organize Vander Ark come to the school for Scott Minehart’s Sophomore English class that were studying lyrical poetry. Peters communicated with Vander Ark’s manager and was shocked with how easy he was to communicate with.
“I emailed him at like 11 p.m. once and he replied,” Peters said. “I was surprised.”
Peters along with many other students enjoyed getting to hear Vander Ark’s story and looked up to him as a good role model.
“Really, really, nice guy. He was really tall. And everyone who was there seemed to love him, me included,” Peters said.
Vander Ark was born in Holland, Michigan and started playing the guitar at eight years old. Vander Ark spent a year of his childhood living on Gull Lake. While living there, the lifestyle around him influenced him to write music.
“I lived in Gull Lake for a short period of time, and I wrote quite a few songs in the house on Gull Lake,” Vander Ark said. “There was the connection there, including The Freshmen.”
In 1992, Vander Ark formed The Verve Pipe. One of the bands unveiling album releases Villians, featured Vander Arks smash hit “The Freshmen.” The song hit number one on the charts in 1997. While talking with Vander Ark, he shared his story on what inspired him to write the hit.
“At the time I was dating a girl in college. We broke up and my friend dated her and then I went out with her again. We went back and forth. From there I came up with the story of her getting pregnant and having an abortion,” Vander Ark said. “It started though with, by the way the girl is fine and not a bad thing happened; it was just coming up with that story, and the inspiration is live.”
Vander Ark shared how living on Gull Lake encouraged him to write music, and how if it wasn’t for Gull Lake he could be in a completely different point in his life.
“It proved that it doesn’t matter where you are to find inspiration for something,” said Vander Ark.“If I hadn’t lived on Gull Lake, I wouldn’t have been dating that girl, and I wouldn’t have come up with that song. Which my path would have totally been different.”
Vander Ark said he could have been a banker right now. He then decided to go solo and released his first album Resurrection in 2003. He then released another solo album in 2006, called “Angel, Put Your Face On.”
Vander Ark was previously married and had a son, Joshua. They divorced, and Vander Ark is now married to Jenna Land. Land is also a musician and performs under the name Lux Land. Vander Ark and Land have two daughters together.
Vander Ark travels with his family and occasionally sings with his wife. He and his wife just released a Christmas album together this last year. He continues singing and enjoys getting to travel and share his musical talents with other people.
It was a great experience for students to get to meet Vander Ark. A connection was made when they got to learn how Vander Ark was inspired by Gull Lake and know that this is where his musical career began.
By Madeline Wilson