Ian Astbury may say rock ‘n’ roll is dead or dying (see last week’s P&P), but Veruca Salt singer-guitarist Louise Post says au contraire, it’s alive and well.
In fact, she even tips her hat to Astbury’s group, The Cult, on “Disconnected,” a track off Veruca Salt’s debut Velveteen/Beyond Music album “Resolver” (released May 16).
“I’ve been trying to get back to the music I love, and looking for inspiration,” Post said recently. “In fact, one of my favorite records of all time is The Cult’s ‘Electric.’ On ‘Disconnected,’ I say (singing) ‘Disconnected, it’s the way that I want it; The Cult’s ‘Electric,’ it’s my favorite record of the week and I’m not feeling sweet.’
“I’m doing my part to keep rock alive, in a huge way. There aren’t a lot of great rock records right now. It’s very startling to feel like my record is one of the best out there right now.
“Rage (Against the Machine) is huge right now, and what’s more rock than Rage? I don’t listen to Korn or Limp Bizkit, and that’s a hybrid of rock and funk, but they are huge. What’s more rock than that? It may not be a certain type of rock that Ian’s referring to, but there are rock bands thriving right now.”
Among them Veruca Salt, which easily could have become another alterna-rock casualty after co-founder Nina Gordon quit in 1998 and recently released her debut Warner album (“Tonight and the Rest of My Life”), and the band also lost drummer Stacy Jones and bassist Steven Lack. Instead, Post resolved to keep Veruca Salt together, recruiting bassist Suzanne Sokol, guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick and drummer Jimmy Madla.
“Resolver” packs the same kind of crunchy intensity as the band’s 1994 breakthrough album, the gold-selling “American Thighs,” and 1997’s “Eight Arms to Hold You,” but it’s tempered with a few introspective moments, self-mocking humor and slices of harmless pop here and there.
One of the album’s highlights, “Born Entertainer,” examines the very reasons why Post chose her profession, which she describes as equally exalting and ridiculous … especially the touring aspects.
“When you’re swept up in a tour,” she said, “and I know that there are going to be 500 to 10,000 people there tomorrow night at the next venue that have already paid for their tickets and have planned their weekend around the show, I’m going to show up. I’m committed, and that’s what keeps me going, as long as those people are there.
“That and wanting to get better as a band onstage; there’s such an art to performing. It’s an incredible process to watch one’s self grow through it and get better at it and more comfortable. For me, I’ve been performing for a long time, and I love it. I gravitate toward the stage; I feel so comfortable once I’m up there.”
Seeing Nine Inch Nails perform at the first Lollapalooza in Chicago helped convince Post that she was headed in the right direction.
“They were one of the first bands during the daytime, when ‘The Downward Spiral’ was out,” she said. “(Trent Reznor) came out, and it’s so much harder to play in the daytime during those things, he bent over his microphone with no shirt on and no shoes, wearing Army fatigues that were cut off. He was blazing; it was so intense and so powerful, and they completely stole the show. I never forgot those 45 minutes. That’s the idea and the responsibility of every band to go on and make sure that this is indelibly imprinted on every person’s mind in the audience. And I don’t mean by pissing on the side of the stage.”
Veruca Salt has left its own impression as well. Post recounts how she reluctantly agreed to let the band tour with Bush in 1997, rather than doing their own club tour, as she preferred.
“It turned out to be such a great experience, because we played to like 20,000 people every night,” she said. “The cool thing is all those people came to Bush, many of them were young girls wearing ‘I love Gavin (Rossdale)’ T-shirts; those same girls saw us and many of them still come up to me and say, ‘I saw you play with Bush. I started playing guitar,’ or ‘I started a band, you’re the reason I play guitar,’ ‘Here’s my tape, thank you.’
“I’m so blown away by that, because to have impacted that many girls and directed them into music, it’s such an incredible honor. It totally fills me.”
Even after coming off a grueling two-month tour, Post says she still loves her job.
“But I also know it’s the craziest way to live your life,” she said. “It’s nuts. You have to be ultra-patient with everyone, including yourself, because everyone’s under the same kind of pressure as you are.
“What’s really strange is that you play to all these people on one night and then you go your separate ways and never really check in. That’s a really odd concept; you’ve exposed yourself, you’ve achieved this magic onstage together and then go ‘Okay, bye.’ It’s like meeting a thousand strangers and then not acknowledging that. Fortunately, Veruca Salt fans tend to be really intelligent and really loyal, if not ravenous. They’re really sweet.”
Despite all the ups and downs, Post is happy to be in the game, while many of her contemporaries from the early 1990s have faded away.
“With the first record, I began feeling like I was in junior high and definitely the youngest kid at school,” she said. “If you consider the entire rock arena and the pop world to be like a high school, I was kind of looking up at the big kids. We came on the heels of so many great records and so many great bands in the midst of 1994; we were so inspired by Nirvana and were devastated when Kurt died and we wrote songs about it. It impacted us so intensely.
“Now I feel like even the bands I really love then have either disappeared or choked in terms of their records. There aren’t a lot of follow-ups from the bands that were thriving then. There’s a sort of emptiness in music that’s kind of frightening to me. But there are some exceptions, definitely, and I’ve been looking for them desperately recently. One of them is Starling, which we toured with. I usually find one song on an album that I adore and I play it over and over again; my latest obsession is ‘Die Hard Crush’ by Starling. And there’s a song on the new Bush album called ‘War Machine,’ and it’s beautiful. I went out and bought it, went to Coconuts to support my boys.
“I also sang on this song by this band called the Drowners, who are from Sweden. It’s so great; I play it over and over again, even though I’m on it. So, there’s still some great stuff out there. You just have to look for it.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “They were two Jackson Browne albums that I bought at the same time, ‘Late for the Sky’ and ‘The Pretender.’ I especially loved ‘The Pretender,’ it was such a sad, penetrating album. At the time, my parents were going through a divorce when I was 8, so it really hit home.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “My mom took me to see Jackson Browne at the Pavilion (in Illinois) when I was 10, and the second one, which I will never forget, was The Cars on their first tour in St. Louis, where I grew up. I had super feathered hair; I was trying to impress this ninth-grader and I was in the seventh-grade. He was not at all amused; my breasts weren’t up to par yet.”
THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: “The last Yo La Tengo record. It’s so beautiful. They’re one of my favorite bands, and they have this uncanny ability, which I try to do with my music, to pull out the rock song and then follow it up with such a beautiful song. The pendulum will keep swinging from style to style, and they use all kinds of instruments. There’s a point in the record where I just go, ‘Fuck you guys, please stop being so absolutely heartbreaking.’ ”
BWF (before we forget): Veruca Salt is seethering on the Web @ www.verucasalt.com. … The Veruca Salt album discography – “American Thighs” (Minty Fresh/DGC, 1994); “Number One Blind EP” (1995); “Blow It Out Your Ass, It’s Veruca Salt” EP (1996); “Eight Arms to Hold You” (Outpost, 1997); “Resolver” (Velveteen/Beyond, 2000).