Q&A: Veruca Salt’s First Joint Interview In 17 Years + “The Museum Of Broken Relationships” Video (Stereogum Premiere)
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