Veruca Salt on mending friendships and balancing rock’n’roll with parenthood
If you’re a Veruca Salt fan, you know the story.
Seemingly at the height of their success in the late 1990s, founding member, equal stakes songwriter, and co-frontwoman Nina Gordon left the band in acrimonious circumstances.
Relations between Gordon and fellow frontwoman Louise Post were not good. Post continued the band, but it wasn’t the same.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the band reunited. The two founders made amends, became friends again, called in the other half of their classic line up – drummer Jim Shapiro and bassist Steve Lack – and started making music again.
“We got together in 2012 and had dinner,” Post told Double J’s Zan Rowe. “We were supposed to have coffee, but I wrote her the last minute, ‘I think we deserve dinner’.
“So, we went out to this restaurant in LA and we had so much to say and so much to catch up on. There was laughter, there was tears, there were hugs – we were just so excited to be together, to be looking at each other’s faces after all this time.
“We hadn’t seen each other since 1998. It had been 14 years since we’d laid eyes on one another.”
Thanks to technology, the two women had already made amends by the time they reunited face-to-face. Which meant it took no time at all for them to decide to reactivate Veruca Salt.
“Within an hour of the tears and the laughter and the stories and just looking at each other in shock and disbelief we realised ‘Okay, we’re gonna play music together again. Where are the guitars? Let’s do this.’” Post said.
The band made a new record, Ghost Notes, which served as a kind of final catharsis and a visceral way of working through the torment of a lost friendship. The final part of their healing came through loud rock’n’roll music and resulted in a record that stands up strongly beside their revered 90s output.
“Ghost Notes was really an album that told the story of our healing. Our break up, our reunion, the story of the full band getting back together. It was incredibly emotional and powerful.
“We felt like if we – as best friends, and a band that splintered in such an acrimonious and dramatic fashion – if we can reunite then anyone can reunite with their best friend. There are happy endings available to anyone who is seeking them.”
If we can reunite then anyone can reunite with their best friend. There are happy endings available to anyone who is seeking themNina Gordon — Double J, 2018
Unfortunately the passion and drive that helped make them such a success in the 90s was also a huge contributing factor to what split them up.
“There was so much drama in our 20s,” Gordon said. “We were very dramatic and pretty narcissistic.
“I think that’s what fuelled our music. This intensity of feeling. But it also fuelled the break up and in the aftermath of the break up, everything was super hot. Over time, things just cooled off.
“With a little bit of perspective, it became like, ‘No, things are more important. Friendship is more important, the music that we make, the chemistry we have, all of that is much more important than whatever petty stuff got between us when we were so overly dramatic’."
One of the greatest frustrations both women found in their time apart was the lack of clarity as to why they had lost such key friendships.
“I think the hardest part for us looking back is thinking ‘Why did that matter? Why did we let that get between us?’,” Post said.
“I mean, here we were waving the flag for female friendship – literally, ‘Volcano Girls’ was our anthem – and then we imploded. That was probably the worst part of it. Well, losing my friend Nina was the worst part of it. But sending the message to our fans that, ‘now that we’ve shown you whatever incredibly strong, powerful women can do, we’re just gonna fall apart’. That was really the hardest thing.
“Looking back now, why weren’t we able to communicate through that, pull it together and be more grown up about all of the things that got to us?”
In hindsight, they can identify some external forces that served as toxic to the band’s future.
“We were also really deer in the headlights and didn’t know how to handle this really big, beautiful package of success that had been handed to us,” Post said. “We had people whispering in our ears, ‘You should be the lead singer’. Nefarious voices pulling us from each other, dividing us. Really cliché stuff, men and their power trips.
We had people whispering in our ears, ‘You should be the lead singer’. Nefarious voices pulling us from each other, dividing us. Really cliché stuff, men and their power trips.Louise Post — Double J, 2018
“I hate to say it, but largely they were male figures in our life who were not giving us the guidance that we required and we deserved. We were trusting them to give us this guidance, trusting them too much and not trusting ourselves enough. That’s where we went awry.”
The 2018 version of Veruca Salt looks and sounds the same, but things have changed. Post and Gordon now have children, which means that touring is a completely different beast to what it was during their initial heyday in the 90s.
“Our kids aren’t with us, they’re at home. So, there is that pull towards home that’s not the same as when you’re touring in your 20s and 30s and you don’t have little bunnies at home and you’re just happy to be out on the road,” Gordon said.
“But we do enjoy it, and it’s nice to have a teeny, tiny break from mommy-hood. It’s nice to be able to wake up in a quiet room in the morning. As far as the rock’n’roll part – it’s like two different jobs. You have to flip a switch and turn off mommy mode and turn on rock lady mode.
“As we have gotten used to being mothers and that whole different side of our lives have taken shape, that has also been incredibly gratifying.
"Especially after years of changing diapers and arranging playdates and doing everything a mom does. After getting back to work and getting back to our art, we’ve found the blend of being a working parent and taking care of children.”
One thing that hasn’t’ changed is the great affection they hold for Australia and its audiences.
“There’s just a warmth over here, a literal and figurative warmth from our Australian fans,” Gordon said. “So, we love coming here, it just feels fantastic. It feels like a homecoming, even though we’re not from here. We’ve always had great shows here, so we always look forward to coming over.”
Veruca Salt play the following Australian shows:
Thursday 1 March – Metro Theatre, Sydney
Friday 9 March – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday 10 March – Josef Chromy Wines, Launceston
Sunday 11 March – Mt Dundeed Estate , Geelong
Saturday 17 March – Leconfield Wines, McLaren Vale