Music Morsels - August 2000
|CROSSROADS.......... Veruca Salt's Louise Post by Mark E. Waterbury
Pivotal moments in musicians careers propelling them from obscurity to infamy
(As appearing in the August 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
In the early to mid 90's when it seemed like most of the music world had their eyes and ears turned towards the Pacific Northwest, there were those who also realized that some powerful music was emanating from the nation's heartland. In 1993, Chicago, who had already produced fierce rock acts such as Smashing Pumpkins, Ministry, and Love Sex and Death was the breeding ground of a new force. Named for the snotty rich girl in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, Veruca Salt's brash guitar driven rock penned by the writing and vocal tandem of Louise Post and Nina Gordon soon outgrew the boundaries of the Windy City. Their 1994 Minty Fresh Records debut "American Thighs" caught the attention of Geffen Records, who re-released the album. The song "Seether", originally a single released in 1993 became an MTV staple, and despite some disparaging remarks in the press, the band's populari ty grew. In 1996, they released an EP "Blow It Out Your Ass It's Veruca Salt", following that, less than a year later, with their second full length effort "Eight Arms To Hold You". Veruca Salt was roaring right along, when in 1999, Nina Gordon decided to quit the band leaving Louise Post as the major songwriting force. Would this be the end of Veruca Salt or a new beginning?
Louise began singing at a very young age. Her mother and father met while in a summer choir, and both were also in bands at college. "One of my favorite childhood memories is singing with my mom in harmony at family parties," Louise recalls. "She played acoustic guitar and would teach me to sing harmonies on songs like "Yellow Bird" and other common folk songs. Harmony is in my blood and it's one of the greatest joys in life to me." Citing early influences from The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and The Mamas and the Papas among others, Louise had always known someday she would start a band. She was actually in a band with her brother in high school called The Prodigy, where she sang Vanity 6 covers. She was also in an R&B cover band, and began to listen to more hard edged music like The Pixies and Brian Eno. "I got The Pixies' album "Doolittle", and it shifted my whole world. It just blew up my whole perception of music and was so revolutionary to me."
Louise formed Veruca Salt in 1992 along with fellow singer/songwriter Nina Gordon. The two spent approximately a year and a half just writing songs and practicing them with the band three to five times a week. Taking their time to hone their music to perfection, as they began gigging, the word about Veruca Salt spread quicker than the great Chicago fire of 1871. "It was pretty crazy. We had so many people at our shows. After about four shows, we were signed to Minty Fresh, and we did that because we knew things were happening pretty quickly. We wanted to make a record to document our sound and our songs and the growth of the band could start there. We also wanted it to be very in-house in Chicago with people we knew, such as producer Brad Wood." Veruca Salt recorded a 7 inch of the song "Seether", which found its way to someone at Hit Magazine who then forwarded it to the influential LA radio station K-Rock. "After that, it was just crazy. MTV was calling us asking us for our video, which is pretty unheard of. So we then had to finish the first album and get it out because people were wanting to get it." "American Thighs" kept the launch of Veruca Salt at full throttle, and their fans stayed loyal through the subsequent EP and second full length album "Eight Arms To Hold You." But then in 1999, Nina Gordon announced that she was leaving the band. "There was a slight pause when Nina left, and I think it was a lot longer in my mind then it was on paper. I had to take some time to figure out if I had the balls and the courage to go on in the band without her. I was doing mental gymnastics trying to figure out what the options were and what I wanted to do. And I realized after much deliberation that I didn't want the band to die. I always wanted to make many records." Encouraged by a lawyer and manager who were Louise's friends, she put the revamped Veruca Salt together and headed into the studio to record "Resolver." Louise was now the primary songwriter, assisted by fellow band member Brian Liesegang. "It took a lot of courage on my part to carry on with the band, but I am so glad I did because this record is my favorite record to date. I'm so totally excited about it and connected to it. I had gotten to the point where I trusted myself, and working on my own helped me grow as a songwriter."
The new CD has been very well accepted by the band's loyal fans, as have the live interpretations in Veruca Salt's energetic performances. "It's been amazing on tour. The new CD has kicked in right now and everyone knows the words. It's an amazing response. Thinking back to high school, the Vanity 6 record was my getting ready to go out record. And now when I have girls coming up to me and saying "Resolver" is their own personal 'getting ready to go out record', I get so psyched because I know how sacred that time is." Two of Veruca Salt's fans in Australia started a fan club which included a web-site where fans could post letters to Louise and to the band as a whole. Perhaps this puts an exclamation mark on the kind of loyalty Veruca Salt has instilled in their fans. "They compiled the letters into a book, and it was so beautifully done in the colors of "Resolver". They wrapped it up and sent it to me, and I was so moved by these letters. It was so touching and mind blowing. The whole history that this band has including up to the present is really hitting me right now, with all these people from all over the world saying they have everything we've done and how much they love it and are just hard core about it."
Right now Louise is not thinking ahead to the next album, even though she wrote nearly thirty songs to chose the thirteen that would be on "Resolver". She is enjoying concentrating on the touring aspect of Veruca Salt. "When I'm in the studio mode, then I can't stop thinking about recording and I can't stop writing in my head and can't stop finishing them in my head. Sometimes I need a break from songwriting. And I spent so much time with all the aspects of this record that I'm kind of enjoying the little break that I'm on right now."
|INDUSTRY PROFILE - Gregory Nicoll, Southeast Performer Magazine Editor
by Mark E. Waterbury
(As appearing in the August 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
Gregory Nicoll is quite worldly, having lived in various spots around the globe, growing up in a military family. In 1967, Gregory's family moved to Augusta, Georgia, where they lived until the early 80's, thus dubbing the city as the closest possible semblance to a "hometown." But it was in a small corner of the planet known as Athens, Georgia where the budding writer began to garner a keen interest in music and the world surrounding it. "In college (University Of Georgia), a lot of my friends were in bands, and some of them became famous, like REM. That's how I really learned about pop music for the first time in my life." Up until that point, Gregory's main passion was for music in movies, collecting dozens of soundtrack albums as well as classical music. "At that time, the place to get these kinds of albums in Athens was Wuxtry Music, and Peter Buck was actually a clerk there. He learned what I liked and he would hold records for me." Peter was putting together a band initially called Twisted Kite who would later of course change their name to Rapid Eye Movement, and Gregory attended their first gig. "I only went to that first show because of Pete, and I had so much fun that I wondered what else is out there? It kind of changed my direction around a little bit."
Gregory had already developed a great sense for writing. He penned short stories since a young age, showing, among other things, an interest in science fiction. "My mother kept this science fiction story I wrote in third grade, and it even had plots and surprise endings in it! It was around the time I was into science fiction that I decided I wanted to be a professional author, and I pursued that goal right up until my first year in college when I discovered I really liked movies better than books." Gregory pursued a career in the film industry for awhile, working with a couple of major motion pictures shot on location in Georgia. But he became disenchanted with the movie biz, and decided to make a move both in career and locale. "I moved to Atlanta in '82 because of the burgeoning music scene, with all these great clubs. I worked in a print shop in Augusta and every dang weekend, I would come out at least one night to take in some shows in Atlanta. So the logical thing was to move here." Once in Atlanta, Gregory began writing for a local music newspaper called Muzik!. Among the other writers were Anthony DeCurtis and Paul Evans, both writers for Rolling Stone. Gregory wrote during the last year of publication for Muzik!, and then continued to write for various magazines and papers after that. Paul Evans worked with another zine called South Line, which was a high caliber publication that had the misfortune of going head to head with the well-established Atlanta weekly Creative Loafing. "I really had a lot to learn and Paul taught me. He was very patient as an editor. I found out later he actually was a teacher as well as being in a metal band, a big KISS fan, and also a real cool guy. He was one of the people I credit with teaching me how to really write." At the time, Gregory was interested in writing for Creative Loafing, but did not really care for the managing editor. Eventually, he approached the weekly with an idea for an article about a festival he was working on. Their response was affirmative, and Gregory's first article was about a festival in North Carolina featuring mostly "garage bands". A few months later, there was a staff writer exodus at the Loaf, and Gregory soon noticed a writing lapse in coverage about the Atlanta music scene."So I started writing what should have been in there and e-mailing it to them. And the music editor and managing editor thought that was very charming and gave me a call and wanted to get together with me to discuss doing this as a regular thing."
Gregory wrote about the local music scene as well as other music subjects from early 1995 until 1999. He began to get frustrated with the local music area perception at Creative Loafing which dealt almost exclusively with Atlanta and Athens because Gregory knew about much more great music in other parts of Georgia and its neighboring states. As luck would have it, the editor for Northeast Performer, a magazine based in the Boston area, contacted Gregory about their interest in starting a Southeastern edition based in Atlanta. "They made a couple of exploratory trips here and also to Chicago to decide where they wanted to start a new regional magazine. They asked around town to find out who had their finger on the pulse, who could write well and organize and so forth, and most of the people mentioned it would be great if they could get Gregory Nicoll. So they contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do it. I was cautious at first until they sent me some back issues of Northeast Performer and I liked what I saw." Gregory took over as the Editor for the new monthly Southeast Performer, responsible for a plethora of duties beyond writing." I really have to thank Paul Evans, because now that I have to do editing, much of his coaching has really paid off." The job of editing Southeast Performer can be very hectic, and Gregory would like to get more staff to cover scenes in other portions of the Southeast, such as Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi. With all the work that comes with his new position, he doesn't get to write as extensively as before, but in the future, Gregory is working on publishing a book on the founding fathers of rock and roll guitar, and another on 70's punk rockers. He also is working on a fiction novel and would like to do a screenplay for a "spaghetti western" style movie. "I terribly miss writing myself, and have precious little time to do it. But a lot of bands in the Southeast are getting coverage now they never got before." And those bands just may have Gregory to thank for it! Fore more info about Performer magazine, visit their web site at www.performermag.com
|INDIE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - Brian Krumm of The Great Crusades by Mark
(As appearing in the August 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
Seven centuries after The Great Crusades swept across the Middle East, a Chicago band sharing the same name is poised to make a sweep of their own. The hard rocking group featuring vocalist/guitarist Brian Krumm, bassist Brian Hunt, keyboardist Brian Leach and drummer Christian Moder already made a name for themselves in Austria and Germany after touring in support of their debut EP "The First Spilled Drink Of The Evening". As a result their recent full length CD "Damaged Goods" was released on the German indie label Glitterhouse. Along with their overseas popularity, folks in the USA are taking notice as well as the band has toured in select markets such as Atlanta, Nashville and St. Louis. Looking to conquer more points of the globe, one of the Brians (Krumm - the vocalist/guitarist) was kind enough to speak with us about the machinery that drives The Great Crusades towards the twenty-first century.
MM: What is it that made you want to pursue music?
BK: What really made me want to play rock and roll was KISS. They were such a mind-blowing larger-than-life sort of deal. Gene Simmons had this huge ax bass where the body of the bass looked like an ax head, and I thought that was ultra cool. I belonged to the KISS Army, and had positioned myself to where I could actually order one of those basses through their catalogue. And I could just imagine myself playing this in front of thousands of people, wielding that bass around being larger-than-life just like KISS. I played saxophone in grade school, and soon afterwards I switched to guitar. I think I just had a knack for it, and I started writing original songs when I was in seventh grade. The songs weren't as good as they are now (laughs) but that is how it all started.
MM: You knew all the members of The Great Crusades for quite awhile?
BK: Yeah, the drummer Chris and the bassist Brian Hunt and I started playing in a band together in sixth grade. We actually played our sixth grade graduation party. Went on through high school together and kept in contact throughout going to college. Brian Hunt and I actually played in the band Slave Chain for about six years. And then after a couple of years we hooked up with Brian Leach, who I've known for about ten years. Yeah, we've known each other for a long time, and I think it shows in our live show. We have a great feeling of where the other people are going. It's a connection from playing together for so long.
MM: Did you have a certain idea of wanting to do something different with The Great Crusades than what you had done with other bands in the past?
BK: I wanted it to be more focused. With the band I was in before, I was a contributor but not the main songwriter. Going into (The Great Crusades) head first has helped the focus when I bring the main idea to the group and we work on it as a group.
MM: What are some of the things you have done to build the band's fan base?
BK: Well of course you have to get out and play the live gigs. And having a CD or some kind of recording of your material available at your show kind of makes a band look like it is actually a serious band. And since we are self-managed at this point there is booking the gigs, promotion, contacting media to try to get them to come out to the shows...I don't know if people know how hard it is for a band to try to make it somewhat successful. It goes way beyond just playing in bars and practicing.
MM: You've already received notice in Germany and Austria. How did that come about?
BK: Our first CD was released by Mud Records, a label in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois. They licensed it to a label in Germany called Trocadero, and it just kind of happened that a friend at one of the other labels in Germany heard the album and begged the label to get us a tour. And he did a real good job because we went over there for three weeks mostly in Germany and some in Austria, and that ended up leading to the deal we have now with Glitterhouse Records, who distribute Subpop in Germany and the UK. So definitely, good things happened from that tour.
MM: Is your fan base growing over here as well?
BK: I think so. The last show we played in Chicago we had a really good crowd. It was a CD completion celebration, and we had about five hundred people. It's funny because I think a lot of it has to do with the amount of people that you know and that you can beg and plead with to come out to your show. You have to be a good band, though, too. (Laughs)
MM: How happy are you with "Damaged Goods" compared to the first EP?
BK: I'm very happy with it. Took some pretty big steps from the first CD. The songwriting is a lot stronger, a little more upbeat and not so dreary and downward spiraling. Lyrically it was more like a beer buzz, while the first record was like a whiskey buzz, really down and out. This one has some optimism hidden in there.
MM: What do you think fans like most about the music?
BK: Hopefully it has something to do with that it doesn't sound really like anything that is happening right now. I think a lot of people can link with the lyrics because they are real story-based, whereas a lot of the lyrics today are more abstract and you really have to be with the genre of the song to know what he or she is talking about. A lot of people key into the story line of our lyrics, it's lyrically-based music. The jagged edge that comes from a fascination of listening to bands like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, The Replacements or Gallon Drunk.
MM: What is your personal definition of success and do you feel The Great Crusades are on their way to achieving it?
BK: Oh yeah. Success means quitting my day job and making my living off of making music. Playing my own music that I write, that has always been the goal in the back of our heads. If we ever reached that goal, I know it will be a job in itself, but it is everybody's goal, doing something they love for a living and being happy at it. For more info on The Great Crusades, please visit their web site at www.thegreatcrusades.com
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