Richard Ashcroft's new band didn't know who we was until an hour before he met them.

The former Verve frontman is launching a new hip-hop influenced project, United Nations Of Sound, and admits the musicians he recruited in New York for the band had little idea who he was - aside from his former band's biggest hit - before he recruited them.

Richard said: "The only time I permeated their cultural mindset was with the song 'Bittersweet Symphony' - I have to accept that. They were Googling me an hour before I arrived."

The group includes Paul 'DW' Wright on bass, who was offered a place in the band after he agreed to give a lift home from the studio they were working in one night; guitarist Steve Wyreman who usually plays with Mary J Blige and drummer Derrick Wright, who has previously played with R 'n' B singer Toni Braxton.

Richard added that despite the change in direction, his initial spell in the studio with hip-hop producer No ID proved very fruitful.

He said: "When I turned up at the studios in New York I had seven to twenty days with No ID. It was tough going for the first couple of days, but we ended up doing twenty songs in a week. It flowed. We tapped into something neither of us expected."