Veruca Salt's Nina Gordon Pursuing 'Own Vision'

Co-manager claims she is leaving partner Louise Post and band to develop her style and sound.

For Veruca Salt co-leader Nina Gordon, the time had come to leave Veruca Salt and strike out on her own, according to Cliff Burnstein, who co-manages Veruca Salt.

"It's tough having a band with two people who act as equals but who don't co-write the songs," Burnstein said, speculating on what might have inspired Gordon to announce to her management team last Sunday that she was leaving the hard-pop group that she co-founded with Louise Post after seven years and two albums.

"They would each bring their own songs to the band," Burnstein said. "And they both write very different songs. They're two different people. I can't speak for her, but I think Nina decided she wanted to solely pursue her own vision."

While Veruca Salt's label, DGC Records, released a statement last week claiming that the future of the group remains up in the air, Burnstein said Gordon's timing makes sense; Veruca Salt had just finished promoting their nearly gold-selling sophomore album, Eight Arms to Hold You, and were just beginning to write music for a third album.

Whether Post will continue on with Veruca Salt, or go solo herself is unclear. Burnstein said that when Post and Gordon are ready, they'll speak for themselves about their future projects.

"This came at a logical time," Burnstein said. "Nina sat down and started to write and if there is ever a time to think about your future, when you're about to begin writing for a new album is it. Nina felt that it was time she carried the whole load here [in terms of her music]."

Burnstein said it was unclear if Gordon had written any material for a solo album, which he speculated would not be released until at least the summer of 1999.

The 30-year-old singer/guitarist first joined forces with partner Louise Post in 1991. For six months, Gordon and Post forged a pop-rock sound in Post's living room, teaching one another songs that they had each been working on separately for years and eventually coming to describe themselves as "musical soulmates." They soon were joined by Gordon's brother Jim Shapiro (later replaced by Letters to Cleo's Stacy Jones) on drums and bassist Steve Lack.

Reaction from fans to the split was swift and unequivocal. Brianna Jenkins, a 15-year-old New Yorker who runs the Dreamy and Delusional Veruca Salt website, wrote in an e-mail that she lamented the fact that the only band "I have stayed with since I first heard them" was breaking up.

Citing the band's strong vocal harmonies and ability to play really hard, powerful songs and then slow, beautiful ballads without losing any intensity, Jenkins said Veruca Salt struck a chord with her. "Usually I get into a band and listen to them for a year or so and then move onto something else," Jenkins wrote. "This was different and I really latched onto their music."

Veruca Salt (named for a character in the children's classic "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") first climbed onto the national stage in late 1994, after word-of-mouth adulation for their hard-pop, Brad Wood-produced (Liz Phair) debut, American Thighs, prompted DGC to sign the band and re-release the album. They took full flight after the Gordon-penned hit "Seether" gained wide exposure on MTV.

Eight Arms To Hold You, the band's 1997 follow-up, was produced by Bob Rock (Metallica), whose pedal-to-the-metal hard-rock style contrasted with the more lo-fi approach taken by producer Wood on American Thighs. The single and video for "Volcano Girls" helped sell more than 400,000 copies of Eight Arms ..., nearly equaling the gold (more than 500,000 copies sold) status of its predecessor.

Jenkins was among a number of Veruca Salt website hosts taken aback at the news of Gordon's departure. "As a fairly long-term fan and someone who has read just about every article printed about them -- every comment they have made to a journalist -- I was totally shocked," wrote 18-year-old Robert Young of Rheindahlen, Germany, webmaster of the SaltShaker site.

"Nina and Louise [Post] always write independently and it is known that they both had a desire to release their own album," he added. "But neither had shown any inkling that they wanted to sever musical links so soon."

Young, who claimed to have spoken with some of the bandmembers within the past few weeks, said he detected no hint that a separation was in the offing and, like many fellow fans, was "mystified as to the reasons behind it."

Maurice "Cheeks" Mattis, 26, who runs the Bunny Hutch site and lives in the band's hometown of Chicago, said the songwriting pair had been seen around town a lot over the past few months and had done a radio broadcast together on local alternative station Q101-FM on Feb. 16. "I can't really say I'm shocked," he wrote. "I've seen almost everything happen within the Chicago music scene already. I'm probably too jaded to be shocked."

Like Jenkins, Mattis said he instantly bonded with the group's sound. "They have these great pop-rock songs that convey emotion in a way many bands only wish they could," he said. "Sometimes, their energy makes me want to jump around with joy, and other times, I just want to close my eyes and listen to savor every sweet word they sing." [Mon., March 2, 1998, 7 p.m. PST]