Salt-less wounds

Still looking for their golden ticket: Louise Post and Veruca Salt are back — and, she says, better than ever.
Veruca Salt
8pm Sat, Oct 14
1818 N. Main St.
Power-pop rockers Veruca Salt first appeared in 1994, perfectly poised to take advantage of the post-Nirvana indie confusion that was the vacuum left by Kurt Cobain’s suicide; there was still so much angst to exploit, but the labels couldn’t figure out how to indefinitely perpetuate a zeitgeist that was destined to implode in the first place. Hell, even Cobain’s widow and her band Hole managed to gain legitimacy during this window. One of its opening acts did, too: Veruca Salt, led by two women, Louise Post and Nina Gordon, scored a quick hit that year with “Seether” and spent the next four years as one of the most critically maligned bands in the country before in-fighting saw Gordon abandon the cause.

The break-up achieved an infamous, soap-opera-like status in the music world, but Post refused to give up on Veruca Salt and, with a new band, recorded and released Resolver in 2000. The album flopped, and Veruca Salt all but vanished from the face of the earth until last year.

“Without ever making it official, I was sort of taking a break,” Post explains from Cleveland, where she’s nursing a sore throat. “I really took it personal when Resolver didn’t do as well as I and everyone around me imagined it would. I didn’t bounce back so easily. In hindsight, it seems logical that I’d just go back to the studio and make another record, as musicians do, to keep working, but I just felt like I kind of needed to lick my wounds for a while.”

But for five years? Well, not exactly. There was the Resolver tour in the U.S. following its release, and there were a few tours in Australia where the album actually did well, but … OK, yeah, for five years. In the meantime, she moved to L.A. with her boyfriend and played the part of domestic goddess — “Or tried to be, at least,” she laughs — while spending a lot of time by the ocean and reading, which was a small joy she says she’d forgotten during the years of fanatical music-making and touring. The fact that her band lived all over the U.S. map and could only get together to record every three to six months helped make the unannounced break unofficially official.

“At one point, I took a nine-month break,” she adds. “I remember looking at my guitar across the room and thinking, God, I don’t want to pick it up because I don’t know what I’m feeling. When I finally did, it was like a renewal of a relationship.”

The music industry had changed, too. “It felt like a hostile place, especially in light of all the music that was getting airplay,” Post explains. “This sort of Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera era. It was kind of nauseating to me, and I didn’t really feel inspired by what I heard on the radio.”

Things began to change last spring when new band members began to coalesce into an actual band, joining Post and her collaborator of several years, guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick (who had been with her for Resolver). With drummer Kelli Scott and Nicole Fiorentino (who Post says “is the bass player I feel I’ve been looking for for years”), Veruca Salt had reassembled and, with Lords of Sounds and Lesser Things, an EP released that fall, was back in the business of making music.

“We fit together like pieces of a puzzle,” Post says. “It feels like I’ve been searching for the perfect incarnation of Veruca Salt for years, and this feels right and really good and really permanent.”

When Long Gone John, the eccentric owner of the record label Sympathy for the Record Industry, offered to release the EP (which Veruca Salt had been self-releasing at concert dates), Post suggested he release a new LP instead. Thus was born IV, the band’s first full-length release in six years.

The result is an album that shows a Post all grown up, still willing to reveal herself lyrically, but older and wiser this time around. The time away has done her some good. With Fitzpatrick’s thundering guitars to back her up, IV offers rock for rock’s sake in an era increasingly dominated by pop for sales’ sake.

The thing is, it’s Veruca Salt — you know that for sure because the CD case says so — but this isn’t the Veruca Salt that Nina Gordon helped to create. Then, one has to wonder, if Post was capable of this, why didn’t she simply reinvent herself after the break-up with Gordon and go solo, or at least assemble a new band?

“One reason I kept the name is because I’d already written 15 songs for Resolver when Nina and I split, divorced — which is sort of what it was like of me — and I was ready to go make the next record,” Post says. “I tried to get her to work it out with me, but she was already moving on.” She adds, “This was what I had worked for.”

These days, Post and Gordon talk occasionally, email, and have found some peace, but it’s clear they’ve gone their different directions. The one time Post proves unwilling to reveal details of her life is when she’s asked what Gordon thinks of the new Veruca Salt material.
“I don’t know, we don’t really talk about that,” she says. “That’d be a question for her.”

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