Veruca Salt: We're like a family -- with all of the love and, sometimes, dysfunction
Photo by Piper Ferguson
A definitive cultural relic that beautifully captures the '90s zeitgeist is the opening scene of high school black comedy Jawbreaker, scored by Veruca Salt's "Volcano Girls." During that time, the Chicago-based band became a foundational part of the post-grunge alternative rock scene, developing into MTV icons and touring with the likes of Hole and Bush. Leading ladies Louise Post and Nina Gordon had unmatched musical chemistry, but after just two full-length albums personal contentions between Post and Gordon unraveled the group seemingly for good. Post carried on with different musicians, but it would be 15 years before she and Gordon buried the hatchet. Not only have the two refueled their strong friendship, but also Veruca Salt in its truest form lives on. For the first time in nearly 19 years Gordon and Post have reconnected with original drummer Jim Shapiro and original bassist Steve Lack for both a reunion tour and a new album.
Ahead of Veruca Salt's show at the Varsity Theater tonight, Gimme Noise talked with Louise Post and Nina Gordon about cultural perspective and getting a second chance.
Gimme Noise: Veruca Salt's original lineup is back together for the first time in 19 years. It all feels strangely paralleled to when you initially gained attention in the '90s for American Thighs. How does this feel compared to the first time around? Are you spiritually the same band?
Louise Post: I feel like it's the same band and also a more evolved level of the band.
Nina Gordon: I feel very similar because there are so many parallels. It feels like déjà vu to me. It doesn't feel that different and we have the same level of excitement about what we're doing internally amongst the band. It's the same feeling of "We cant wait for everybody to hear this!" Will everybody hear it? Who's going to hear it? We don't know but we love it.
LP: I second that.
Is it accurate that you truly never thought this day would come?
LP: No we didn't. I actually wrote a lyric in a song that said "Antarctica will have to thaw for us to meet again." Ironically, Antarctica is thawing. At the time that I wrote that I didn't imagine that that would ever happen -- either of those things -- and yet here we are. I had hoped in my heart that it would but thinking that we might play music together again was too far-fetched to really entertain the possibility of. But for me it's been sort of a dream come true. I literally had dreams about playing with Nina and missed playing with her terribly. I missed Jim and Steve as well but Nina was always my main compadre.
We were really partners in crime, all sorts of crime. That relationship was really important to me: it was the hardest to be away from and the most glorious to return to. That being said, we as a four-piece band are like a family -- with all of the love and, sometimes, dysfunction as any family. We have to work hard to stay in communication. This time around it feels like everyone is really game and we've had a lot of time to appreciate what we shared as a band a long time ago. It strangely feels like we're resuming right where we left off and get to take it to the next level. It feels fantastic.
One of the singles you released on the Record Store Day 10-inch this spring, "It's Holy," seems to be centered on the theme of fresh starts.
NG: Definitely. It's very much about what we have been through and very much about what's happening now and about our reunion. When I say reunion I don't mean it in the theatrical sense, I just mean the repairing of the two of us. It's about all four of us; we all wrote it together. It's about doing this together again and the surprise and thrill and realizing for myself how precious and valuable our connection and our music is.
Who are the people in the music video?
NG: Those are all fans. A friend of ours who shot the video had this idea because we hadn't had any new music out in so long and there were fans who also thought this day would never come. He had the idea of asking through social media to get these über fans to videotape themselves listening to our new songs for the very first time. So that's what that is. We thought it was really sweet.
Veruca Salt captured a very specific spirit and essence of the '90s but now -- years later -- culture has inevitably shifted and you are making new music amidst a completely different cultural climate. How has this affected your approach to creating music?
NG: I don't really think that it has at all. We've always written from our gut I guess. We have always written what comes naturally. Certainly we listen to lots of music all of the time and are influenced by everything that we see and hear and love and that sounds great. But I don't think it's changed out songwriting or lens. We're always writing from such a personal place and have a very "anything goes" attitude and so I don't feel like anything about the current cultural climate has really influenced us. We are a product of this time and this world and we live in this world and so we're writing from that as human beings. Don't you think, Louise?
LP: Yeah I think so. Like you said we're influenced by music that we listen to like the rest of people who listen to music. But we're writing from the same place as before.