Love Will Find You - Again
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
I was feeling like a has-been, a used-to-be, in 2001. My band, The Verve Pipe, had failed to regain the success we expected after 9/11—that very day sharing the date with the release of our new album, Underneath.
We had a song on the radio called “Never Let You Down,” and it was shooting up the charts. We had another song called “Colorful” at the end of the movie Rock Star, starring two of the biggest box office stars in the world, Jennifer Aniston and Mark Wahlberg. “People will see the movie, hear your song at the end, and go straight to the record store to buy the new album,” I remember one of the RCA reps telling me.
Sigh, remember record stores?
No one knew how to sell anything during the aftermath of 9/11—we were all caught in a freeze, waiting to see who would make a move first. Promoting something during this period seemed…amoral.
Radio stations decided to stop playing new songs because the country needed familiarity, comfort music, or classic rock. “Never Let You Down”—on its way into the Top 20—slid back down the charts into the abyss.
I was angry at RCA, angry at my bandmates, angry at the world. But mostly, I was angry at myself for thinking the terrible thoughts of “why me, why now?” People died that day, and I was worried about the death of our album.
Anger directed outward has a short fuse. An explosion—a burst of light, a fist to the wall. Anger directed inward has a long fuse, a lifetime of chasing that spark, trying to douse it with your tears. Eventually, it smolders into the ember of self-hatred. And self-hatred not only sticks with you, it follows you around all day and gets into bed with you at night.
I needed someone I could deflect the hate onto and got into a string of toxic relationships. And that made me hate myself even more.
It took a solid year of therapy to get me to even consider a relationship with myself again. My therapist kept reminding me that searching for love is futile when you don’t love yourself first.
I decided to sell all of my possessions and buy an RV. I purchased a particular RV because I saw what was painted on the side: The Searcher.
It was time for a pilgrimage in my 1994 Ford Searcher. I sank heavily into the driver’s seat of the beat-up RV—as worn and tired as the vehicle itself—and set out to find the old me. Days were spent driving, journaling, meditating, and fasting. Nights had me performing in any coffee houses or sports bars that would have me. I denied myself the middling pleasures of alcohol and one-night stands. I started to respect myself again; I began to understand what it means to love yourself.
And then things got weird.
I was asked to join the band The Samples on tour as their opening act. I knew these would be long drives following their tour bus. Regardless of the rigorous schedule, I accepted the challenge and made my way to the first dates in Colorado, then Utah.
I made it past Omaha that first day of driving when a storm struck. The night was afire for hours, spider veins of lightning shot across the sky, on and on, but ominously, no thunder followed. It was such a spectacle to see, I decided to continue the drive without sleep, letting the storm keep me awake as it lead me along that lonely road. I followed it through Nebraska and Colorado. I turned my headlights off at one point and let the electrical storm illuminate the road. I was lost in awe of it, and the hours of driving felt like minutes.
The rain kept falling as I reached the Vail Pass on the afternoon of my first show. As I drove through the tunnel, I caught a glimpse at the end, a white so white that I had to drop the visor. Sun, reflecting off of snow, was blinding.
Snow. In the middle of June.
Therapy had me thinking about such phenomenons. Were the rain and snow some sort of baptism? Did it mean something?
I opened for The Samples that night, having had no sleep since leaving Michigan. Immediately following the show, I stumbled to The Searcher and passed out for 12 hours.
I woke up and started the drive to Utah.
The path from Salt Lake City to Park City, Utah, is pretty much uphill. The Searcher was coughing and sputtering for the entire climb, and I was getting nervous about whether I would reach the mecca in the mountains for my show that night. If I couldn’t make it up this hill, I might have to cancel a show for the first time ever.
Thankfully, The Searcher, the little engine that could, did, and as I pulled into the parking lot of the venue, it sputtered out a final cough and died.
The Searcher’s job was done.
I met my wife that night in Park City, Utah. We just celebrated our 17th anniversary. We have three amazing kids.
Maybe you have your own Searcher, and perhaps you’re following your own storm. Regardless, you can search all you like, but you won’t find true love until you truly love yourself.
Start there, and love will find you again.
Brian Vander Ark is the lead singer of the multi-platinum band The Verve Pipe. Some think he loves himself too much, but he believes there is no such thing. You can see the premiere of the video of Brian performing The Verve Pipe's new single, "Love Will Find You Again" on Wednesday, November 17, by subscribing to the Rockstar Reinvention Youtube Channel.