Having been suddenly raised out of obscurity by the ultra-catchy guitar-pop song “Seether,” Veruca Salt know the power a strong single can have. But their debut album, “American Thighs,” shows that they are by no means one hit wonders.
The group had its beginnings three years ago when a mutual friend of Louise Post and Nina Gordon thought they would musically compatible and demanded they get together. The two started writing songs and playing out, mostly acoustically, and decided to form a band. They placed an ad for a female rhythm section but ended up with bassist Steve Lack, who responded because he liked the influences listed (such as The Pixies and My Bloody Valentine.) After trying out a few different drummers, the line-up solidified with the addition of Jim Shapiro, Nina’s older brother.
“He’s mainly a guitarist and a songwriter, but he played a little drums and he’s like ‘I’ll play drums with you guys’,” explains Post. “Little did he know what he would be committing to, but we ended up playing with Jim and we knew that we were a band.”
After considering such names as “Igloo” and “Power Mountain,” the quartet decided on Veruca Salt (a character from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) and began playing out July 1993. After only three shows, they had attracted the attention of producer Brad Wood and Chicago label Minty Fresh.
Last January, almost two years to the day Post and Gordon had met, the group began work on “American Thighs,” which was released in September on Minty Fresh/Geffen.
“We made the record for very little money, in a short time, and I think we thought that it would reach a few people,” says Post. “But this year has just been a roller coaster ride for us, such a crash course in the industry. What does it mean going to a major label? What does it mean to think of music as your career, not just as your art and your love but as a way to make money? I’d say in some ways ways it’s been too fast, but in other ways I can’t imagine it having happened any differently, this is what I know.”
Shortly after the album’s release, Veruca Salt did some shows opening for Hole, but they only recently went out on a headlining American tour. The group had done a European tour earlier this year, and finds American audiences that still see them as “The ‘Seether’ band.” Post says that because Europe is less of a TV oriented market, there was less of a “Buzz Clip vibe.”
“We’re really flattered that so many people come,” she says about the US dates. “But I wonder how many people beyond the immediate few in the front have our record, or are there people in the back who just don’t choose to mosh that actually like our songs. It’s interesting to me, I don’t know how much we’re still an object of hype and people want to just come see what’ its all about or if people actually connect with the music and want to experience it live.
Within the band, song writing and vocal duties are for the most part split between Post and Gordon. Though “Seether” was the single that broke Veruca Salt, Post says that Gordon actually apologized when she brought it to the band because she though it was too much of a pop song.
“That happens a lot, I’ll be down on one of my songs and she’s like ‘oh no, we’ve got to play that,’ and vice versa,” she explains.
While “Seether” has led many people to accuse Veruca Salt of sounding like the Breeders, the remainder of “American Thighs” proves otherwise. The songs are highly melodic and range from the bright pop-rock sound of “Victrola” to the dreamy, extremely quiet “Sleeping Where I Want.” Post and Gordon’s voices work well together, and the whole band is tight and extremely focused.
Since the release of “American Thighs,” Veruca Salt have put out a pink ten inch of “Number One Blind” on Minty Fresh that features non-album tracks. The group also recorded two songs, “Straight” and “She’s a Brain” at a BBC Radio session, and have a track called “Aurora” on the “Tank Girl” soundtrack. The group’s newer material is slightly more aggressive than that on “American Thighs” but is generally pretty consistent with the album. Veruca Salt plan to start recording their next LP in the fall or winter, something they are very eager to do.
“I love playing these songs, but it’s weird to focus on them so much,” says Post. “We’re definitely ready to move on in different ways, musically, in terms of our thinking, in terms of our identity. We want to just grow.”