New riffs mend old rifts: Veruca Salt

BACK TOGETHER
BACK TOGETHER

It’s a reunion that no one ever thought would happen – least of all the band involved. Veruca Salt were kick-ass alternative act in the ’90s, a girls-with-guitars band that earned a devoted following with songs like Seether and Volcano Girls, and were always on high rotation on Triple J.

The band was led by Nina Gordon and Louse Post, two best friends in sync and sympatico, who created awesome harmonies on stage while having a ball off.

After two albums, however, the wheels fell off. The group split, not over musical differences, but personal ones when their friendship imploded over relationship dramas. The friends stopped speaking. Post continued in Veruca Salt without Gordon, and Gordon embarked on a solo career, but the dynamic duo were no more.

Until now.

Now 16 years on, they’ve repaired the rift, rekindled the friendship and re-plugged in their guitars. A fresher-than-ever Veruca Salt are back on the road and rocking out with fantastic new songs that sound just as good or even better than their old stuff. They’ve reformed with the original line-up including Gordon’s brother, drummer, Jim Shapiro and bassist Steve Lack.

Excited to share their new sound with the world, the band is coming to Australia this week to revisit some old fans and maybe make some new ones.

“I am really enjoying it,” says Gordon, on the phone from her home in Chicago, with an exhale of genuine enthusiasm. “It is such a surprise to be doing this again. It’s sort of like this little miracle and it’s thrilling on so many levels and from so many angles.”

She says hanging out with Post again feels “shockingly familiar”, bringing back memories of sharing rooms and being on the road for 320 days a year.

“Our senses of humour and our sensibilities, they’re very similar, so we have a great time together. We have this capacity to talk for hours and hours and hours and we always did,” Gordon says with a laugh.

“I remember back in the day we rarely slept because we’d stay up all night talking, whether we were on the road, or on the phone back home in Chicago. Now the same thing happens and we have to stop ourselves, we have to force ourselves to go home.

“We’re having a great time. We’re having so much fun, on tour recently, being on the bus together, listening to all our favourite songs, putting on our make-up, we had a ball.”

Louise and Nina’s friendship repaired slowly. It began with a little email here, a birthday wish there. Occasionally they might send each other songs they liked. Then they sat down to dinner one night and had a “what if” conversation. Gordon had recently seen a reunion show of the band Mazzy Star at the Cochella music festival. Everyone was tweeting and talking about it. It sent some tinglings down her spine and and rumblings through her system. Could Veruca Salt possibly play again?

“I got this pang, this feeling that I hadn’t had, because that was really a closed book, I never considered it. And then all of a sudden I considered it, I was sort of scratching my head, going huh that’s funny, I have this desire to be in Veruca Salt again and play with Louise again.”

They found that not only was their friendship intact but their musical chemistry was as strong as ever. Veruca Salt 2014 have already released two new singles, It’s Holy and The Museum of Broken Relationships. The later song is inspired by an actual museum in Zagreb, where people can hang remnant memorabilia of their broken hearts, Gordon explains. And It’s Holy is a life-affirming song which talks about the reparation of their friendship and the awesomeness of life in general.

“When we first got together we were playing our old songs from our first album. Then Louise played a song for me, a song she had written recently and I was blown away by it and I knew at that moment we had to make a record. We were practising in my basement, and immediately I came upstairs and I said to my husband, ‘Louise wrote this incredible song and I think I want to write music again’, and he was so happy because it had been a while.”

In the 1990s, leading by example, Veruca Salt wrote the kind of songs, like the cryptically amusing Seether, that became unintentional feminist anthems.

“I don’t think that was something we were conscious of originally, certainly in the first album we were empowering ourselves, that’s all we were doing. And empowering each other. We were very conscious of the fact that at the time it was not as common for women to be fronting their own bands.

“We had a history of writing these team fight songs – on our second album there was a song called Awesome that was meant as just a little anthem for ourselves, a Team Salt anthem. So I guess that’s what It’s Holy is in a way, our 2014 version of our own team fight song.”

Now, as well as the music, they have other things to bond over. Post and Gordon are both mothers of young children. But not everyone is keen that band is getting back together. Before getting on the phone to do interviews and putting her kids to sleep, Gordon got a teary protest from her seven-year-old daughter.

“She said, ‘Mommy, why do you have to get the band back together again? Why do you have to make music again?’ The idea that I have things to do, that we’ve gone on tour, we’re going to Australia for two weeks…”

But for Post and Gordon it’s a second chance, a happy miracle

“We were young when we met and we had a very intense ride together. We split up in a very dramatic way and we never talked it through. So there was all this unresolved stuff, then time went by and it’s true about time healing all wounds.

“We were always yearning for that bond that we had with one another, and harmonising together was always special for the first day in 1991 when we met and were playing acoustic guitars in the living room. That was always something that was really precious and we just kind of trashed it. We trashed that whole aspect of our lives over something petty and personal, so I think we both with time realised this is ridiculous, life is too short.

“It really was a big surprise and a gift, not just in terms of what we are now able to do with one another musically, but also just in terms of life and perspective and the whole world and friendship in general and the feeling that anything can happen. It’s a cliché, but never say never.”

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