It’s been seven long years since the release of the last album by Brisbane duo The Veronicas. But those seven years have been far from dull.
There was a collaboration with Michael Paynter (‘Love The Fall’), the 2012 single (‘Lolita’), the departure from their label Warner and the subsequent signing to their new home at Sony Music.
Though seven years may have passed, Lisa and Jess Origliasso have never stopped working and writing. And if the success of their new single ‘You Ruin Me’ is anything to go by, it would appear that the Aussie record buying public has never stopped caring.
We caught up with the girls over coffee about the Warner days, their unreleased album ‘Life On Mars’ and what we can expect from their new album, due next month. But we begin by congratulating them on their No.1 success with ‘You Ruin Me’.
“We’re on cloud nine! Really good right now,” Lisa says. “It was so overwhelming the first week when we heard that one, people liked it and then two, that it went number one… it blew our minds.”
We suggest that perhaps the girls have been incredibly lucky with the amount of support from commercial radio across the country, especially given its general reluctance to pop a ballad on the airwaves.
“The fact that we’d turn on the radio and we’d hear it five times in a couple of hours was just wild,” says Jess.
“You know what’s nice about it?” Lisa adds, “I think we’ve built up a bit of a rapport with these people. We’ve been around for close to ten years and these people are our friends now. I think they genuinely get us. They know the heart and the soul behind the story. They know what we’ve gone through. So the way that they’ve embraced it and supported us has been amazing.”
“And Sony have been amazing,” admits Jess. “Sony have worked in a completely different way than our old record label and they really just support the vision of the artist. As long as you’re strong with them about what you want, they will support you.”
‘You Ruin Me’ was a collaboration with the superstar song writing team of DNA in Sydney. Jess explains how it came about.
“The album was finished, but we were at the Sony offices and the DNA guys work there. So the idea was thrown to us that while we were doing a week of meetings, if we felt like we wanted to get into the studio and get creative – we’re always writing – they had these two guys. We thought, ‘no, probably not. We’re done with the album, it’s all good’.
“But we thought it would be fun to get into the studio… we were so over having meetings. So we went in and met the guys and literally instantly fell in musical love. They’re musical soulmates. They’re the male versions of us,” she says.
“It’s so interesting, because energetically, their rapport with each other is almost identical to how we work with each other,” adds Lisa.
“So when we all got in the room together, it was like meeting people you’d known your entire life,” continues Jess. “They were already fans of our music, so they were very open to us leading the charge, whereas I think a lot of the other artists they work with, they have to create for them a lot more. We’re such strong-headed people… we’ve been doing it for so long that they were really excited by us leading them a little bit on where we wanted to go.”
“And we also wanted to challenge each other in a sense,” Lisa says. “It would have been the easiest thing in the world for the four of us to get in a room to write a big pop song. We did have our moments where we also got to have fun and do that though.
“What we really loved about them was they wanted to challenge themselves as well. That’s what turns us on… being able to challenge yourself musically and do something different. And we were all in that same headspace and I think that’s how something like ‘You Ruin Me’ comes about.”
And, of course, the rumour is that the song was penned about a breakup at around one in the morning.
“It was really interesting, because we’d just spent the day writing a different song with DNA – a pop song – and we went out and had some dinner and wine with them down the road,” explains Jess. “Then we went back into the studio to grab our bags and Lisa was on the phone and said, ‘do you guys really wanna go, because I feel like I want to write a ballad’. It was about 11 o’clock at night.
“And because we’d all literally fallen in love with each other musically, it got to a point where none of us wanted to leave the studio anyway, so we decided to stay and write out what she was feeling.
“So she triggered this concept, we all just channelled it and within three hours, the song was written, she was putting vocals down at one in the morning and it was done. Created.”
The public’s response to ‘You Ruin Me’ has been incredible. The single has been No.1 for the past two weeks and has already sold more than 35,000 copies. But it’s been a long time coming. And there was always a risk that their prolonged absence from the scene may have resulted in a fanbase moving on, thus hindering their future plans. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened.
“We always feel as though as long as we’re standing in a place of artistic integrity, the people that are meant to hear the songs will hear the songs,” Jess says. “We’re very very lucky in that our core fanbase has been so consistently loving with us, even in the downtime. It’s especially incredible to see how many new old fans have come back and said, ‘we’ve just been waiting for you to release new music’.”
“This song is just a really good representation of how we’ve progressed as artists,” Lisa explains. “We have grown up. It has been a couple of years and we’ve been constantly in the studio creating throughout that time. I think it’s probably a bit of a shock to some people to see a little bit more of that raw, vulnerable side. We just sort of put it all out there.”
The Veronicas were ready to put it all out there a couple of years ago via their third album for Warner, ‘Life On Mars’. The project never really got off the ground, with the single ‘Lolita’ limping to a peak of No.23. That it came off the back of a slew of top ten hits left The Veronicas feeling deflated.
“‘Lolita’ was an interesting time, because there was no real strategy behind the release,” Jess tells us. “The song was literally just picked out of a bunch of demos by the label as something that was currently trendy as far as the sonic style was concerned.”
It’s abundantly clear after only 20 minutes face to face with the girls that there’s still a lot of anger directed towards their previous label Warner.
“This is the way that I see it; they stole four years of our lives as artists,” says Lisa.
“At the peak of our career,” adds Jess.
“Our lifeline is creating and one part of creating is being able to release it,” Lisa explains. “They took that power away from us for nearly five years. Let us go, you know what I mean?”
So perhaps we should be expecting a middle-finger song to their former label on their new album…
“We’re The Veronicas, there’s always a middle finger song,” laughs Jess. “There’s a few.
“That’s what we always say… we can talk in interviews, but if you want to know how we really feel, just go through and read the lyrics on the record, because literally it’s all there.”
So after seven years, that they’ve been able to achieve this level of success again, and with a new label, feels a little like vindication.
“It feels good. And we truly do believe in divine timing and that everything happens for a reason,” Jess explains. “I don’t believe they were the right company to be able to deliver this set of songs and this record. But when you’re in it at the time, it obviously feels incredibly frustrating, because it’s not like you know what’s coming. You don’t know whether there’s ever going to be an opportunity again.
“That’s why we focused on the creative aspect. You can become so bitter that you give up. But we never stopped. We never stopped creating. We were in the studio every day, working with dream collaborators. It wasn’t like we were left to our own devices. We were working with people like Butch Vig and Billy Corgan.
“So many incredibly talented artists that believed in us and kept saying, ‘don’t fucking worry about that stuff… prepare now for what you’re going to be doing and always keep faith. Always keep channelling it into the music’. We took that advice.
“To be honest with you, I’m so relieved,” she continues. “We’re exactly where we’re meant to be now. That album would never have got what it deserved. It would never have got the support. We were very excited about writing for that record and to be honest there are a number of songs from it that we’ve brought over to this new energy.”
Yes, you read right… some of the ‘Life On Mars’ material will see the light of day on their upcoming self-titled record.
“As Jess said, we’ve created throughout this entire time, so we had such a massive pool of songs to choose from,” Lisa says. “Some from three years ago, some from two months ago, so it’s a very eclectic record and we’re so proud of it.”
“But you know what, that doesn’t scare us,” Jess adds. “I think that the music industry and the platform given to pop today is so diverse with artists like Lady Gaga doing whatever the hell she wants. There’s ‘80s metal stuff to super-pop, you’ve got Katy Perry, Miley and everyone all doing their thing.
“Pop has sort of become a less constrained form and you can get adventurous with it. So we’ve made a record that isn’t all the same. It’s very eclectic and we’re excited about that.”
Given it’s almost seven years since we were last gifted an album (2007’s ‘Hook Me Up’), we ask how the girls feel they’ve developed as artists during that time.
“Dramatically,” Jess says. “And as people,” Lisa adds. “We were very young when we came into this, but we had each other to lean on. It was a very exciting time. We were getting to tour the world and do it with your best friend. It was amazing. We’ve had our battles the last few years. We’ve had to fight for what we believe in and you learn so much from that.”
“It helps you to develop a value system that you have to stand by when people try to question you as well,” Jess adds, once again referring to their previous label.
“There’s a saying that I love, which is, ‘in times of peace, prepare for war’ and that’s kind of what we did. But it’s almost like that felt like the war and this is now the peace.”
Now in their time of peace – and, it seems, their chart renaissance – the stage is set for the release of The Veronicas’ self-titled third album. The girls hint at a late November release date. “So the 28th?” we enquire. “Not that late,” they respond, virtually confirming November 21. They tell us what to expect.
“The way to describe it is that it’s still got that sense of passion that the first two records had; it’s just more sophisticated,” explains Jess. “There are more layers, there are more dimensions to this record. We took it so seriously. We had the time to sit with it as well.
“From the tiniest idea of creating the songs to the very end; the production, the mixing, the mastering, we’ve been completely immersed and obsessed with this record. In ways that we didn’t have the opportunity to be with the last two.”
“I feel like every track on the album is personal,” adds Lisa.
“At the core, it’s like soul/pop probably. There’s a bit of trip-hop, there’s massive pop, there’s pop/rock, there’s country/pop,” continues Jess.
But although that might sound all rather eclectic, Jess tells us to expect a body of work that’s both mature and incredibly cohesive.
“People tend to think that it’s a very song-focused industry right now, but I beg to differ. I think people want something to invest in. They want artists who stand behind something.”
“They want artists!” exclaims Lisa. “They want artists who have something to say that’s genuine. And I think that when you actually give them the opportunity to embrace something like that, they always do. It’s just that that’s not the known thing anymore.”
And there’s a reason, a very good reason, that the girls decided on ‘The Veronicas’ as the title.
“The metaphorical explanation for it is that we’re back, we’ve never had a self-titled record before and if there was ever a time to do it, that time is now,” explains Jess.
“It’s every experience and feeling that we’ve had,” she says. “We associate every song with a person or an experience, so we listen through and it’s four years of people who’ve come in and out of our lives and we can sit there and it transports us back to that exact moment.
“We didn’t put a single song on this record that was just a case of ‘let’s get into the studio and write a party song’. Not a single one.”
“We’re so emotionally invested in every single song,” concludes Lisa. “If there’s ever a time to feel that ‘this is us’, it’s this record.”