Veruca Salt: "Playing Music Again Feels Like the Most Natural Thing in the World"
It's certainly understandable if you, like many, suffer band band reunion fatigue. Nowadays, it seems, no band actually breaks up. But this is a reunion we're generally thrilled about: Veruca Salt. Singer-guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post fronted the '90s band, releasing singles like "Seether" and "Volcano Girls," which were the sonic equivalent of Pop Rocks: all sweet harmonies and sharp guitar grinds. In 1998, Gordon left the band, which then went through several incarnations with Post at its helm. This summer the original line-up -- Gordon, Post, drummer Jim Shapiro, and bassist Steve Lack -- is back together and touring. We spoke to Gordon about why this isn't that kind of reunion tour.
Nina, the original line-up of Veruca Salt is back together and touring. You left the band in 1998 -- how does it feel to be playing with the original band again? It feels great. It feels like we didn't miss a beat. It's amazing how it really doesn't feel like that long ago we were playing together. Music was the thing that brought us together in the first place. It was the thing that we connected over, all of us. So playing music again feels like the most natural thing in the world. And it doesn't feel like some big gap took place or some great schism; as soon as Louise and I started playing together again, it felt incredible.
And still does! We're playing shows now and on the third leg of this tour. We played DC and Philadelphia and we're going to play New York tomorrow night and Brooklyn the next night. The DC and Philadelphia shows were so great! It was so much fun. I don't even know what to say. We're just having the time of our lives all over again. Our fans -- we're so grateful that they hung on and waited for it to happen, because we didn't even know it would happen.
Since we're discussing band reunions, I'm thinking a lot about nostalgia. You've been playing a lot of material from American Thighs and Eight Arms to Hold You on this tour. Yes -- we're also playing two new songs and we've recorded an entire album that we're putting out in the fall. We're in sort of a different place from a lot of the so-called "reunion tours" because our whole musical relationship was cut short for personal reasons. We were working on a new album and then everything blew up and we didn't speak to each other for all these years. And so musically we have so much more to say and do. We only made two-and-a-half albums together -- and a bunch of B-sides and stuff -- and there's so much more in us.
So it doesn't feel like nostalgia to us, and what we're getting from the audiences doesn't feel like nostalgia. There are a lot of really young fans there who either discovered us too late, or were too young when they first discovered us to come to our shows.
With the new material, what can we expect? We released two new songs on Record Store Day in the spring, and they will be on the album we release in the fall. We recorded about twelve songs with Brad Wood, who was the producer of American Thighs. People who have heard it think it really sounds like a follow-up to American Thighs. We've been working really hard for the last year on this album, and it's thrilling for us to be back in the studio again, singing harmonies again. I don't know! I think it sounds like us, but I don't think it sounds retro. But I don't know if I would have the best perspective on that.
The songs you released on Record Store Day, "Museum of Broken Relationships" and "It's Holy" -- they feel like there's a real joy behind them. There absolutely is. "It's Holy" in particular, because of the subject matter. It's really very much about our music and being back together and our friendship. "Museum of Broken Relationships" is a little different in terms of subject matter. Overall, this is just about loving playing music together. And the whole album turned out to be, at least in terms of its lyrical content, an explanation and exploration of everything that happened between us -- bad and good -- and how we came out on the other side.
Fifteen years is a long time -- has your music-writing process changed? It's changed completely, actually. We used to write individually and bring in a finished song and throw it out to the band for arrangement ideas, but lyrically and melodically the songs were usually pretty much intact. This time around, we are way more collaborative. One of us may bring in a snippet of a song and say to the rest of the group, "Hey, can you write a bridge for this? I don't know where it should go."
For "It's Holy", that originated from a riff that Jim wrote years ago and had a melody idea for. When I heard it I said, "Wait, we wanna write a song around this." There were no lyrics, and there was a little bit of a verse melody, and we asked him if it would be OK to run with it, and we did. We all put our two cents in and came up with this completely collaborative song, which is about our reunion and about our music, so it's kind of fitting that it was such a collaborative effort.
And most of these [new] songs -- I'll bring in a little bit of a song, and I'm like, "Louise, I don't have time to write a chorus, can you write a chorus?" And she'll write a killer chorus. It's nice because when we play these songs it's not like: Louise [then] Nina. Louise. Nina.
I think there's something magical about the two of you together. Well, we feel that way too, and it's not uncommon for us at these shows to get really choked up, teary, very emotional. Just hearing our voices together is really magical for us. And the fact that there are people who want to come and listen to that is doubly magical.
The reunion is like the musical version of renewing your vows! Exactly! That's so funny. It really is.