Veruca Salt Interview - Break Up To Make Up

Success, it's been said, is the best revenge. When Veruca Salt frontwoman Louise Post found her band of six years crumbling under the pressure of personaland artistic differences, rather than resign herself to a bitter end, she decided to strike back with a revised line-up -- Post, guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick, bassist Suzanne Sokol and drummer Jimmy Malda -- and a seething new album. Even as her former musical comrade Nina Gordon hit the studio to record her first solo effort, Post began recording Resolver. As the title implies, the album is Posts way of closing one chapter in the Veruca Salt saga and opening a new one. A transitional work, it's very much a collaboration with producer Brian Liesegang, who was working through his own separation anxieties after a less than amiable departure from the Filter fold. The new Veruca line-up took root in Resolver, and the musicians certainly don't pull any punches. Grinding, crunching and melodic, the songs are frequently saturated in Posts wry sarcasm -- even the mellow interludes exude a calm that's more often menacing than melancholy. Discussing her feelings about the death and rebirth of Veruca Salt, Post is more diplomatic than tracks like "Used to Know Her," "Officially Dead," and "Born Entertainer" suggest. Brian Liesegang had a pretty acrimonious split with Filter, and recently you've had your own, um, personnel changes. Did you click on a post-break-up rebound level?

Louise Post: Totally. Was this album a way of venting about the events of the past year or so?

Post: Probably the events of my life. This was a real rite of passage for me I was so free on this record, emancipated by something that had been holding me down for a long time. I had felt it but I hadn't seen how very much it was stifling me. The entire dynamic of the past incarnation of this band was really debilitating to all parties in some way, shape or form and it was time for everyone to spread their wings and make their own statement. Any touring band is gonna have trouble. It's just the nature of touring and treating your art as business. It's really easy for it to go off course. It takes constant checking in with one another and absolute honesty for things to go smoothly. This record was really freeing for me because I didn't have anyone besides Brian -- he took on the critical role. We worked so hard on this album. I mean, we were working 24-7 and we almost killed each other and ourselves in the process, but we had a mutual goal of making this record the best it could be and we werent going to stop short of it for anything. Would you work with him again?

Post: We both learned through this experience that working this intensely on a project really tests a friendship. We couldn't get any breaks from each other and it was far too intense for any friendship to endure -- I guess similar to me and Nina in a way. Yet the understanding is that Brian and I were parting ways at the end of the album, at least musically. He has been an amazing collaborator and producer, but I don't know that I would do it again. Just to preserve our friendship. Are there other producers you'd like to work with or would you like to do it yourself from now on?

Post: I don't know. I think it's important for bands to be involved in the production of a record, and there are certain producers who have signature styles. I definitely feel like I need someone at the helm but I don't ever want someone to shape my music. I have a very strong vision and I wouldn't want anyone to manipulate that or compromise it. Brian, for example, suggested that I do things differently and proposed various changes -- but knowing we have the same vision: to keep the record sonically massive while also keeping the fragility in tact so that its sort of held together by a thread even when its at its most powerful. You have a knack for making pop references -- the Beatles, Cheap Trick etc. -- without sounding like you're being obnoxiously clever.

Post: Honestly, it just popped out. I thought, "Okay these are temporary lyrics," and then I realized that I sang them for a reason. I often do that with my own lyrics. I don't know what I'm going to sing until it suddenly is sung and up to that point I haven't known yet what I intended to say. I didn't know what I was feeling so it was sort of an education in what was going on at that moment. Both in the Cheap Trick part [in "Born Entertainer"] and there's a part in "Officially Dead" which is a Who reference -- see me, feel me -- the same thing happened. It just popped out and it just wasn't even necessarily the melody of the song but the words came out. Obviously pop music has shaped my life and been the soundtrack to my life. Resolver was a response in part to Eight Arms to Hold You, our last album (the title of which was the working title for the Beatles movie Help!) but also a response to that record being really fraught with tension. Especially towards the end. The whole touring process was really difficult and the whole album was a test of wills and stamina, so this is my attempt at resolving everything that went down during that time. So the break-up was a long time coming?

Post: It was really a long time coming. Over the course of the whole album there was tension building among the band members and it just buckled, I'm sorry to say. I'm not sorry to say that I made this record and I have these fabulous new band members. It's like a virtual love fest in the Veruca Salt world. How did you all hook up?

Post: I didn't want to hold any stupid auditions and basically met people who were sort of natural. Like a friend of mine and I were playing guitar a lot together and he came to practice one day and that was it. Our drummer Jimmy came on the heels of playing with a guy called Kelly Scott who was formerly in the band Failure. I knew Kelly and had asked him to come out from LA to play on some demos. He did, and he was great. In fact he ended up on "Used To Know Her." We have his drums from the demos, but at a certain point my friend said, "You know, there are good drummers in Chicago, Louise." I'm like, "Really? Like Who?" And he's like, "Well, Jimmy." I'm like, "Jimmy plays drums? Is he good?" He's like, "Yeah." I'm like, "Bring him on." And that was that. I didn't think I wanted to play with another woman for a long time. For almost the entire course of the record I sang all the harmonies with the exception of [two or three songs]. I thought that this was going to be a one-female thing and then in the eleventh hour I realized not only was I sick of being around ten gross guys constantly where the bathroom humor abounded and they were torturing me as the only female, but I realized that after a year of that on and off in the studio, I needed to have a girl around so I sent the feelers out and we ended up playing with Suzanne Sokol but I'm really close to this girl named Gina Crosley and she started a band, Rockit Girl since then. I produced their EP and that was really fun. Did this album come together quickly or are these songs you accumulated over time?

Post: Some of the songs were on the back burner for years. I have a habit of calling my voice mail when I have an idea for a song and leaving it on there. Basically no one can leave me a message because it's always full with fragments of songs or various important messages I save and then can't bear to erase. There are fragments of songs that date back easily three years that I save every 16 days. It's really labor intensive. Have you thought about buying a small tape recorder?

Post: Yeah, but I lose cassettes and I bought a tape recorder with that purpose in mind but it broke and decided, "This just doesn't work for me." My voice mail is always there. I have my trusty little pocket in cyber space. So the songs span a long period of time.

Post: Yeah. "Born Entertainer," the first single, was written when we were in Hawaii making Eight Arms to Hold You. That was actually on a four-track tape that I put down and I just went back to this tape and rediscovered this stuff Id been working on during that time. The same with "Wet Suit" -- that was a song I was writing like a year before I started making this record and it was on my voice mail and I had to go back and finish it. A lot of times whats cool about that is [the songs] may begin about one thing but end up about something else. Like "Used to Know Her" I started writing about my step-mother, and then it turned into something absolutely different. Do you ever have second thoughts about some of the very personal content of the songs? People can interpret and misinterpret it.

Post: That's the beauty of making an album. I like the idea that a song can mean one thing to someone and something entirely different to someone else. The music is so intensely personal and subject to interpretation and so subjective by nature, that to me the singular experience [of each individual hearing it] is the beauty of it.

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