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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Veruca Salt Celebrates Two Decades of ‘American Thighs’
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Twenty years ago, when male grunge and alternative bands were dominating the airwaves, Louise Post and Nina Gordon showed the world that girls could rock just as hard as boys, as the frontwomen of Veruca Salt exposed their American Thighs.

The album, which featured the hit “Seether,” has become widely regarded as definitive of the era, and on November 4th Minty Fresh will be reissuing it on 180g vinyl.

With the band reunited, and ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut, I caught up with the two “Volcano Girls” to reminisce about the early years of Veruca Salt, as well as some of the important lessons they’ve taken from that time.

Adam Bernard: You are celebrating the 20th anniversary of your debut album, American Thighs. This comes at a time when 90s nostalgia is at an all-time high. Why do you think we all have such a high regard, and intense love, for the 90s?

Nina: I feel like things kind of happen in 20s in that way. In the 70s Happy Days was a huge hit because they were looking back at the 50s, which were beloved by all of the people watching television in the 70s because there was nostalgia for the 50s. I suppose that’s kind of the way there’s been, up until now, a total renaissance of the 80s, and bands that were sounding like the 80s. I think it’s just how that happens. It takes 20 years for people to miss a certain time.

That’s the practical analysis of it. Then I just think there was a lot of really good music that happened during (the 90s), and a lot of bands called it quits, so I think there was a kind of yearning for a reuniting of a lot of the bands because they stopped before their time.

Adam Bernard: When did you know American Thighs, and Veruca Salt, were going to be something big, possibly bigger than you had originally imagined?

Louise: You know, it’s funny, I was driving around in my car with some actor friends in Chicago, and one of them was Jeremy Piven, we were in the same theatre company, and he heard “Seether” and said, “This is gonna be huge.” I think that was a defining moment for me.

I will also say that I was really aware that Nina and I shared something really special from the first day we met. I knew from that moment that we could take it as far as we wanted to, and I think that, just to put a period at the end of that, I think we ended it prematurely, and before we were finished creatively together, which is why this period of time is so precious to us, because we have so much more to do and say together.

Just because we couldn’t hold it together personally, our music together got the shaft, and our fans did, too. Now we get to release more albums together, and that’s the happy ending.

Adam Bernard: What aspects of fame would you say you were totally unprepared for?

Nina: I think we were unprepared for all of it, except musically. In terms of growing, and playing together, and getting better at our instruments, and better at songwriting, better as singers, all of that, I think we had it all under control. I think we were destined for greater things, but I do think that we were really deers in the headlights, and we weren’t prepared at all (for the other aspects), cuz it’s freaky.

Being on stage in front of lots and lots of people is strange. It’s strange to write music that is really personal and then spill your guts on stage. It’s strange to know that people have opinions about you, and people know who you are, but you don’t know who they are. All of that is strange. Not to say that those aren’t things that we fantasized about from the time we were little kids, because I certainly did, I always wanted to be in a band, that was always a dream of mine, but it’s strange. You expose yourself in ways that are not necessarily comfortable, literally and figuratively, and it’s just all weird.

We didn’t know how to handle it. We really didn’t. We were young, and we were narcissistic, and we ate it up, but it kind of made us sick.

Louise: It kind of made us sick is a good way to put it. We just collapsed interpersonally underneath the pressure of it all, the weight of it all. Our first record went gold, so our second record, by necessity, had to go platinum, or we felt like failures, and that’s ridiculous. It’s absurd.

Adam Bernard: That’s setting yourself for depression.

Nina: Right. So it was all strange. It was a super strange time, and again, we loved making Eight Arms To Hold You, and we were at work on our next album, and ready to continue, and then there was personal shit we couldn’t work out. We were about to get ready to record again and it was just a very strange kind of pressure. Strange time.

Adam Bernard: If you could have one do-over from that time, what would you have done differently?

Nina: I wish someone in our camp, whether it was from our record label, or our managers, or someone in the band, or some friend, or somebody, had said bands’ careers are long, and (with) songwriting, the possibilities are infinite. You can make ten records, and they’ll all be different, and it doesn’t really matter, and radio doesn’t matter, and hits don’t matter, all that stuff. I wish someone with wisdom had said it doesn’t really matter, you need to write songs, songs that you love to perform, and songs that you love recording. I think we would have felt a lot more relaxed about the process.

It’s in my personality to worry. It’s not very rock n roll of me. I question every little decision. I wish I was a stoner and I could just say it’s all good, but I’m not.

Adam Bernard: You’re not all, “Who cares if the band’s name is spelled correctly on the T-shirt? Whatever, we’ll sell ‘em.”

Nina: {laughs} Exactly. Every little decision is not so important, (though). It’s art, but it’s not brain surgery.

Adam Bernard: You’re both married now, and moms, but is there anything from that mid-90s era that you look back on and say, “I was young, I was dumb, and I’m glad I didn’t know any better because if I did I wouldn’t have X memory?”

Louise: In the spirit of not regretting things, because we are the sum of our parts, I think all of it. Short a few really bad decisions, all of it was really important, and valuable, and it shaped who we are now.

Nina: Oh yeah, and it was a blast. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m talking about how strange it was, it was awesome, too. We had a ball. We toured around the world. We were in busses and planes, and playing incredible shows, and seeing incredible fans that loved the work that we were doing, and we loved to sing together, and we loved to play together. It was like our only responsibilities were to ourselves and our music. It was great. We had a ball. We had all kinds of amazing experiences that I don’t regret, or question, or anything. We were in our 20s, and we did whatever we wanted to do.

Also, I will say the other amazing thing about this band in particular, maybe it’s true in all bands, but I’m reminded now when we’re together, because it’s happening all over again, I’m reminded of the fact that 90% of our job seems to be making each other laugh. That's all we had to do. We would just sit around and crack each other up, all day long, all night long, and we still do that now when we’re together. We just want to make each other laugh, so that spirit is something. It was all very carefree.

Louise: Also, to further answer your question, pretty much any relationship that we had that went awry, certainly with a guy, I think Nina would agree, gave way to a lot of good songs, so we wouldn’t change that even if we, in time, learned that it wasn’t the correct person to end up with. So there’s no regret in having the relationships with the guys we didn’t end up marrying.

Adam Bernard: You’ve been on the road for 20+ years performing, and you mentioned the freedom, and doing what you wanted to do, so what’s been the wildest, or most interesting, thing you’ve seen, or experienced, while on the road, or at one of your shows?

Louise: Did you just think of Sydney, Nina?

Nina: No I didn’t. That wasn’t so crazy. Wildest, I don’t know. We played Glastonbury back in the day, so there was like 100,000 people in the audience, and that was pretty mind blowing. I wouldn’t call it wild necessarily, but it was kind of shocking, and it was pretty intense for us. We were a young band, and had only played a handful of shows.

Adam Bernard: That’s pretty wild, but before that you said something about Sydney.

Louise: {laughs} You want the juicy stuff.

Nina: That wasn’t so bad, though.

Louise: Really? Are we talking about the same thing?

Adam Bernard: Let’s find out.

Nina: Oh, I know what you're talking about! I’m so sorry, I thought you meant recently in Sydney, like the little fistfight that happened in the audience.

Louise: Oh, no, but that’s something we could actually talk about. {laughs}

Nina: The wild stuff we can’t really talk about. We can’t talk about the really good stuff, but there was a lot of madness. Let’s just say a lot pillow madness.

Adam Bernard: Give me one example. What happened in Sydney!

{Both laugh}

Nina: I thought were you talking about the thing at the show we just played.

Louise: No, he said wild and I just wondered if your mind went to the exact same scenario that mine did, but we’re just gonna have to leave it at that, Adam. Something happened in Sydney.

Adam Bernard: I’m gonna give this one more shot. Let me see if I can word this in a way where I can actually get it out of you. Without destroying your marriage, or your children, give me an example of what happened in Sydney.

Louise: An example.

Nina: I’m trying to think if there’s a movie reference we could make.

Louise: Indiscretion?

Nina: Indiscretion, obviously. It’s going to be an indiscretion. I don’t know what to say, Adam. I’m sorry. I’ve gotta leave you hangin.

Adam Bernard: Are you glad cell phone cameras weren’t around when you were in Sydney?

Louise: Yes!

Nina: Polaroids were, though, and Polaroids exist. Polaroids do exist.

Louise: We do have Polaroids, but it was not something that should have been on Instagram.

Adam Bernard: So Polaroids exist. So somewhere in your collective photo album there are memories of this.

Nina: Yes, there are clues.

Adam Bernard: You’re gonna have to eventually let me write your autobiography so I can get the full Sydney story.

Nina: Totally!

Louise: We’re waiting for someone to be that person.

Nina: Film the documentary about us and we’ll spill it all.


Interview originally ran on Arena.com.

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