Leading ladies back in business

HAPPY DAYS: Veruca Salt are where they want to be – together again and making music.Veruca Salt came out of nowhere with debut single Seether in 1993 and grabbed the music industry by the throat.

Fronted by Louise Post and Nina Gordon, the Chicago four-piece injected angsty power pop into alt-rock with bittersweet harmonies that cut to the bone. They toured with the likes of Hole and PJ Harvey and their debut album, American Thighs, sold millions.

Within five years, though, Veruca Salt had split. Trouble had been brewing since the band went to Hawaii to recordtheir second full-length album, Eight Arms To Hold You, with producerBob Rock.

“I just think we were so overwhelmed,” Post tells Weekender. “We couldn’t appreciateeverything that was happening to us. We weren’t grounded.”

Jim Shapiro left in early 1997 and the band officially called it quits when Gordon left a year later.The split took a heavy emotional toll on Gordon and Post. Years went by without the two speaking. Then, in 2003, theybegan to slowly mend fences, emailing each other sporadically. By 2008, both had married andstarted families and they began to lean on one another as new mothers.

“After Nina and I split up I made albums I really cared about, and I toured on them, but there was something just so basically different about doing it without her. Ididn’t have the fight in me any more and I really just wanted to live a normal life. I just wanted out,” Postsays.

“I had hidden my guitars in my cupboard andhad literally stopped playing and yet I kept on writing songs in my head, despite myself. Icouldn’t make it go away, even though I tried.”

As painful as it was, the 14-year separation was ultimately necessary, says Post.

“Nina and I were so intertwined and joined at the hip that I think our identities were becoming intertwined. We needed to strike out on our own and establish our own lives as adults,” Post explains.

“We separated and became healthy and whole. We reunited over motherhood, and music was the icing on the cake.When Nina emailed me saying ‘Let’s get together, Mazzy Star is playing Coachella – why aren’t we?’, well, that was the clincher.All of a sudden it was like ‘Shit, let’s play music’.

“When I pick up the guitar a song comes out. It is always the way for me. They are there waiting to come out, you know?At the risk of sounding self-important and over dramatic, sometimes it feels like I am just a vessel to write and record and that’s why Ikeep doing it.”

Gordon and Post’s reunion eventually led to the pair reforming Veruca Salt with theiroriginal bandmates: Shapiroand bassist Steve Lack.

“It’s miraculous to have this brand-new, beautiful chapter,” Post says. “We never saw itcoming, and yethere we are. To be able to reconnect and play with these dear friends ofmine who are like my family–it’s such a gift.I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Everything is whereit’s supposed to be.”

Post is matter of fact about Veruca Salt’s early success. She says the band“found a very receptive audience” and “didn’t have to fight too hard to be heard”.

“It starts with a song, and we had a song (Seether) that caught like wildfire. There was some magic there that made that song catchy enough that people wanted to hear it a lot. Combine that with the fact that we were young and pretty, that was unmistakably the one-two punch.

“We were treated very much like thenext big thing as soon as we stepped foot in the industry.

“Having said that, Nina and I spent a tonne of time sitting in our living room writing and honing our sound and recording four-track demos by ourselves.By the time we reached the music we were on a solid footing.”

Post also downplays Veruca Salt’s reputation as being trailblazers for other female rockers.

“Look, there were women who had paved the way before us. I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac and Heart, Mamas andthe Papas, The Breeders, My Bloody Valentine, The Sundays, Sinead O’Connor, Chrissie Hynde –the list goes on,” she says.

“We stepped on the stage that they were just stepping off of, you know. They were also our peers, a lot of those artists. It felt very natural, it didn’t feel like a struggle. It felt like there were a lot of female-led bands around us.

“And yet we were still somewhat revolutionary in that it was still relatively new to have a female-fronted band. Not playinginto the hands of the patriarchy and doing things on our own terms –that was important to us.

“Only later did we become aware that we were being managed by men, being manipulated by men, all that time. It ultimately broke up the band.We weren’t necessarily as vigilant as we needed to be. There was a lot of whispering and side-taking, triangulating. We drank the Kool-Aid and ended up falling apart.

“We’d been walking around carrying the feminist flag and then we literally fell apart.We also proved we were just human though, andwhat we get to do now is our victory lap.”

Veruca Salt play A Day On The Green at Bimbadgen on February 24 with The Living End, Spiderbait, Lemonheads, The Fauves and Tumbleweed.