Veruca Salt 2014

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LOUISE: The timing is a little funny, because we have released these two songs, as you know, on vinyl. And, um …

NINA: Wait. Before you say anything, Louise, can we tell people what we’re doing, or are we supposed to be all hush-hush about it? So yeah … we are currently in the studio recording new music with Brad Wood, who recorded the two songs on the EP. We’re just going and going and going, and we have probably 12 songs in the can, not completely finished. We’re working on vocals. It’s been really fun this past week; we’ve been working on the vocals down in my basement, which is a studio, and we’re just having so much fun singing harmonies together. I did not want it to end. When Friday came along I was just bummed out that we wouldn’t be singing down there over the weekend. So yeah, we are working on a new album. We should be done the end of June-ish and then we’re going on tour.

LOUISE: We’re going to be touring this summer, and then the new material won’t come out until a later, undetermined date. So we’ll get to play new songs but they won’t be available yet. We’ll get to try them out, I guess, and see if people enjoy them.

NINA: Cole, as a fan what would you want to hear? If we were touring over the summer, would you want to hear American Thighs or new material you’ve never heard before … or both? That’s the big question: What do you really want to hear as a fan? Because of course we want to play all of our new songs, but we acknowledge that fans are going to want to hear the songs they know.

STEREOGUM: I always fantasize about this with bands. Like, the setlist I would make for them if I could.

LOUISE: Ooh! Send us your setlist. Seriously we want to hear it.

STEREOGUM: I will. I actually literally will do that. I think it’s good for it to be a balance. There’s a fine art to making the right setlist, I think. Some bands totally mystify me as to why they do things the way that they do. But people of course want to hear American Thighs and songs from Eight Arms, but I think the ability to play new songs too would be great.

NINA: That’s why we’re psyched to put out this 10″, because at least we can play those two songs and people will know them.

STEREOGUM: Those songs sound great. How does it feel for you guys, thinking about playing American Thighs now?

LOUISE: It’s really fun. It’s really meaningful. I think that being said, I think that it will be a lot more meaningful to play them for people who internalized that record and for whom that record is very important. I think that will breathe new life into the songs, playing them again for our fans. When Nina and I started playing together again, and with the band again, we started first, of course, with American Thighs. It was profound to play them together, and yet being creative people, we immediately wanted to work on new stuff. So I think there is a balance. We recently saw a band we like a lot from the ’90s do a reunion tour and I loved it. It was fantastic. They played all the songs I wanted to hear, but I was left wanting to hear new songs. It was the Breeders. There was one song that I said to Nina, “Was that new? Was that a new one?” And she said no. Which one was that?

NINA: It was on the Safari EP, I think.

LOUISE: So it was on an EP. I just didn’t recognize it off the bat. And it was a little disappointing. I understand on this note that Kim Deal has come out with new material but I was hoping to see new stuff from the Breeders when we watched their set.

STEREOGUM: I just interviewed Kim Deal for Stereogum also maybe a week ago, two weeks ago …

LOUISE: Oh you’re kidding.

STEREOGUM: The Breeders are recording a new album at Kim’s house right now with the Last Splash lineup.

NINA: Oh, that’s awesome! What’s so funny is that when we first all got together, we all sat in a restaurant — Jim and Steve and Louise and I — and we talked about playing the songs from American Thighs and maybe playing a show. We didn’t know what we were doing. We were like, Maybe we’ll play a show together. That would be fun. Then, when we got a practice space and we played the songs from American Thighs, and it was really satisfying and super fun and sort of innocent and really lovely. I had imagined, Yeah. We’ll play a show or two. It will feel really good and then we’ll go back to our lives. But then Louise brought in this [new] song that really moved me, and I remember coming upstairs and saying to my husband, “Oh no. We’re going to do this. We need to record. We need to be a band again.” It could’ve gone either way. It could’ve been like, “All right. We’ll play a show in LA and call it a day.” But the new material felt so great that we all felt the need to be a band again.

LOUISE: I feel the same way. With each new song that comes in, I realize that we’re making a record here, and this is going to be a really good record. And not only that, this is bigger than us. It has to be done now.

STEREOGUM: It’s been very interesting for me, as someone who came of age in the ’90s musically, to get the experience to talk to people who were important to me during that time. The fact that the two of you were two women fronting a band in 1994 was a really powerful thing. I know for a fact that there were friends of mine who were women who started bands because of that. I think being able to talk about that aspect of Veruca Salt is important.

NINA: Hearing that never gets old. That’s such a great thing to hear. That’s funny because it really was a different time, and basically all the interviews we did back then were the same. We were asked what a “seethe” was, we were asked where the name Veruca Salt came from — so we ended up talking about Roald Dahl all the time — and we were asked continually what’s it’s like being a “woman in rock.” That was every interview. Every interview we talked about what it was like being a woman in the music industry. I don’t know what it will be like this time around. Hopefully the same questions don’t really need to be answered. But hearing about the impact we’ve had on women and other musicians is always really amazing.

STEREOGUM: Before talking to Kim Deal, her sister Kelley was like, “Ask her what it’s like to be a woman in rock. She just loves being asked that.”

LOUISE: (Laughs) No way.

NINA: Oh my God. That was all anyone wanted to know. What did we say? What was our stock answer?

LOUISE: Oh God. It’s excellent? It’s great?

STEREOGUM: I got the sense that often when people wrote about what you guys were doing, it was weirdly and backhandedly sexist in a lot ways. It was always the fact that there was not one, but TWO women who were singing AND playing guitar! It was such a novelty in people’s minds that it kept them from really getting to a proper discussion of the record you made — which was a really great record. American Thighs in particular really articulated the feelings of a lot of young women at the time in the way it approached sexuality and power.

NINA: People didn’t know what to make of us, I guess, back then.

LOUISE: I agree with what Nina said about being surprised by the reaction so far to our 10″ release on Saturday, in that we had no idea what to expect and similarly had low expectations. So all of the things that are coming in are these nice little gems where we hear that it was a high-selling indie record last week and that people are saying such nice things on Twitter and Facebook and social media in general. It’s sort of like the icing on the cake because we’re so happy to have released something — that is our own personal victory — and then what we’re hearing back is sort of like the victory lap, because we didn’t know what to expect. We definitely did not expect that. It’s really a gift to hear that our record did have a larger impact than we were aware of over the years. On the heels of our breakup, I wasn’t really wanting to consider how far-reaching the ramifications of our breakup were, or the ripple effect it had and how many people were impacted by that. It was sort of too big to really conceive. Now I’m getting the sense of that, whether it’s from a fan who felt like their parents divorced when we broke up or whether it’s just a general tone and mood. It feels like a very welcoming place and welcoming time to be releasing music right now.

STEREOGUM: I can see how, as you continue to go forward doing press things, people will want to ask you why you broke up. But being able to talk about the other stuff, like this legacy that you have made together, is what makes it so cool.

NINA: Also back then we experienced the mother of all backlashes, so we are really good at backlashes. We know what to do in a backlash.

LOUISE: (Laughs) In case of a backlash …

NINA: In case of a backlash consult Veruca Salt.

LOUISE: Put your own oxygen mask on first, before you put it on your bandmate …

STEREOGUM: What was the backlash then? It was just that you got too popular too fast?

NINA: Oh yeah. Oh and being from Chicago. That was a moment in history. Who knows if that will ever happen again. There’s just an attitude in that town that they eat their own. Everyone loved us and then the second we went from an indie to a major, it was just like we had sold out. They hated us.

LOUISE: And that really happened in the course of about three days. (Laughs) Okay. Three months.

NINA: Yeah. We experienced all kinds of really funny things. You know, local press and graffiti on the walls of the bars we like to hang out in and all that stuff. We are well-schooled in the backlash department. We don’t care! Bring it on!

LOUISE: We figure we’ll just go in the same order. Everything else has gone in the same order as when we first got together. Me and Nina started playing. A year later Steve Lack joined in. Then Jim Shapiro was like, “Hey, I’ll come down and play drums for you guys one night.” Then he became our drummer. And that’s how things have sort of been going here, too, this time around. The person who wrote our bio is the same. We’re recording with Brad Wood. So we figure the next record will be with Steve Albini. And then we might do something really radical and punk rock and record with Bob Rock.

STEREOGUM: You need to bring back those “Volcano Girls” bungee chords for the live set.

NINA: Ooh I’ve still got my corset and we’ve definitely still got the boots. They’re downstairs in the basement.

Here are the band’s summer tour dates:
06/22 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
06/23 Seattle, WA @ The Tractor Tavern
06/24 Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
06/26 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
06/27 Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
07/09 Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
07/10 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
07/11 Cincinnati, OH @ Bunbury Music Festival
07/12 Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
07/13 St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
07/21 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
07/22 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
07/24 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
07/25 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
07/26 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall

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Comments (24)
  1. Fuck yeah! Great to see them back. Wonderful interview.

  2. That was a great interview, Cole!!

  3. excellent interview!!! and what especially made it awesome was it was done by a real fan. love it!

  4. Oh.My.God.

    I literally stopped everything I was doing at work to read this. Great interview Cole! Seriously, this made my freaking day. Jealous is an understatement that they asked you to create a set-list for them. If you could throw “Number One Blind” and “Don’t Make Me Prove It” in there, that’d be great. ;)

    VS were HUGE for me growing up. Eight Arms To Hold You in particular. I was girl growing up in the suburbs of Chicago and Nina and Louise inspired me to pick up a guitar and start a band of my own. Obviously, that didn’t last haha, but I still know how to play guitar and they’re to thank.

    I woke up hella early on Saturday to get to my local record shop with the hopes of scoring their 10″. It was first on my list. I didn’t get lucky… so I broke down and checked eBay for it the next day. I found it for about $35, placed a bid for $40 and bam, got it. It should be arriving any day and I can hardly contain my excitement. “The Museum Of Broken Relationships” sounds fantastic, it’s as if they never missed a beat or took a break.

    Anyways, I have rambled enough… once again, awesome interview Cole! Can’t wait to see them live again – first time since ’97 – back in their hometown of Chicago once more.

  5. This made me so happy. I’m in the same boat as you, first year of university in ’94, and I absolutely LOVED Veruca Salt, although I’m in the vast minority in that I actually like Eight Arms a little better than American Thighs. (Hey, there’s no accounting for taste). They both made some good music after the split (“The Sun” especially is one of my favourite VS songs), but it obviously wasn’t the same. I’m so excited to have them back, can’t wait for the album and tour!

    • hey i’m on team Eight Arms To Hold You too! if only because i heard that album before i heard american thighs so there’s a certain familiarity that i have with that album.

      i also remember their song that’s off the tank girl soundtrack pretty rad as well- “aurora.” that should be on the setlist, too.

  6. I loved the interview. Thank you for asking interesting questions that mean something and create thoughtful responses. :)

  7. First the Sundays now Veruca Salt…13 year old me and grown up me are so excited right now.

  8. The “Blow It Out Your Ass It’s Veruca Salt” EP is pretty awesome, too.

  9. Wow. I feel like I did that interview myself. Those were all the things I would want to ask or say to them. Great interview Cole. I am 35 now but I still throw on American Thighs when I really need to calm myself from a long day. Hearing that they are so happy to be back together makes it even better. I can’t wait to go to D.C. to see them (I live in Tennessee and have since 16 so I can sympathize with having to drive to see bands).

  10. So jealous that you got to talk with Nina and Louise together. I’ve interviewed them both separately, back in 2006, 2005, respectively, and that was such a dream come true. Both at the time hinted that they’d be open to playing together again. And now finally, nearly a decade later. Ahhhh *wistful sigh* Nina and Louise are my guitar heroes.

    I’m just bummed their L.A. concert sold out!

  11. I feel such kinship with all of you. This is really happening, you guys.

    I wanted to say that I share Cole’s sentiment about the way music critics handled Veruca Salt back in the day. Rolling Stone magazine printed a review of Eight Arms To Hold You in which the writer seemed more interested in discussing the way they looked and dressed than the way they sounded. I’m not sure they said a single thing about the songs on the record at all. It was a bullshit review to say the least.

    I personally cannot wait to see them on tour again, and am hoping for a set that consists of material mostly from American Thighs, with some choice cuts from Eight Arms and their upcoming release. And hey, Shimmer Like A Girl would certainly be nice too. :)

  12. Some of you were asking about my setlist. This is what I sent Nina and Louise. I included spots for them to insert some new songs.

    1 – Get Back
    2 – All Hail Me
    3 – The Museum of Broken Relationships
    4 – Straight
    5 – NEW SONG
    6 – NEW SONG
    7 – Seether
    8 – Don’t Make Me Prove It
    9 – Shutterbug
    10 – Forsythia
    11 – Wolf
    12 – The Morning Sad
    13 – NEW SONG
    14 – Fly
    15 – Spiderman
    16 – It’s Holy
    17 – Celebrate You

    ENCORE

    18 – 25
    19 – Shimmer Like A Girl
    20 – Volcano Girls

    • nice! i could get down with that..

    • Forsythia !!! yes perfect setlist apart from it missing ‘stoneface’ & of course u cannot forget ‘number one blind’

    • one last time should probably be one that shit though, honestly

    • If that was their setlist, I would be able to die happy immediately after leaving that show…

      MAJOR props for including “The Morning Sad.” I always feel like that VS track is somewhat overlooked. It’s definitely one of their more poppy songs, kind of in the direction Nina went in when she did her solo album, but it definitely deserves some more recognition.

      Dudley – Totally agree about “One Last Time.” Although I think there’s a good chance for them to whip it out on their tour. When I saw Veruca Salt, sans Nina, back in about ’04 or ’05, they played it. Now that Nina’s back, I don’t see any reason for them not to.

    • that set list is amazingly close to what was played a the first show in portland june 22nd.
      they only played two new songs, holy and Museum, but wow that was really close. They must have really taken a good look at it.

      By the way…..the girls still got IT! Amazing show in a tiny venue.

  13. So I used to be a designer for the parent company of Stereogum and had a hand in designing this here site and can’t tell you how stoked I was to read this first interview on a blog I consider to be one of “ours”. I feel weirdly proud in a way, but mostly just so excited to have read such a well executed interview about one of my favorite bands. The chemistry between Nina and Louise is palpable. It’s what made Veruca Salt explode in the 90′s, it’s what’s kept weirdos like me hanging on all this time, and it’s what will sell out every club and record store in 2014. See you guys at the Roxy.

  14. Great interview. I found myself wondering over the past few years how people would remember Veruca Salt; flash in the pan, or legit, good band?
    Nice to know it’s all rosy. American Thighs was an integral part of those mid-90s summers, especially “All Hail Me.”

  15. We named our daughter Nina Louise, but only later did I realize where I had gotten the names. Long live Veruca.

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