Ex-Veruca Salt Leader Finds Consolation On New Album

From the ashes of failed relationships and the breakup of her band, Nina Gordon builds a record all her own.

Just when everything seemed to be falling apart in Veruca Salt co-founder

Nina Gordon's life, it all came together.

Within a two-week period last year, Gordon said she broke up both with

her boyfriend of four years and with her best friend and bandmate of six

years, Veruca Salt singer/guitarist Louise Post. But from the dissolution

of her group sprang a new era in her musical career.

"I was totally dealing with leaving the band when I began writing this

album," Gordon, 31, said of her upcoming solo debut, Tonight and the

Rest of My Life, due in August. "I was feeling a lot at that time.

I had a lot of feelings, and I had to somehow deal with them. I know it's

a cliché, but you take those feelings and do something productive

with them, although you don't realize ... that you're doing something

productive -- you're just reaching for something that might console you"

(RealAudio excerpt of interview).

Gordon said she did what came naturally when she had to deal with the

sudden March 1998 breakup of the popular rock band: She holed up in her

Chicago apartment with a guitar, a practice amp and a notebook, and she

began writing songs. "The first couple of months the songs I wrote were

really intense and really heavy," Gordon said. "Then I started to loosen

up a bit and started feeling good and I wrote some pop songs."

The result is an album produced by Bob Rock (Metallica, Mötley Crüe)

that is a mix of the kind of hard-rocking songs Veruca Salt mined on

their final album, 1997's Eight Arms to Hold You, also helmed by

Rock, and some of the more downbeat hard-pop songs written in the

post-Veruca Salt period.

In addition to the title track, Gordon said the album features her pick

for the first single, "Horses in the City," as well as "2003" and "Hate

Your Way," which she described as "just a slow and driving and heavy

... not-very-up song about hate. I guess hate songs do pretty well, but

I don't want to tread on [Marilyn] Manson's territory."

Tonight and the Rest of My Life was recorded at Rock's Maui,

Hawaii, studio over a five-month period beginning late last year and

features a number of ex-members of the Boston pop band Letters to Cleo.

In addition to LTC drummer Stacy Jones (who was the drummer in Veruca

Salt prior to the breakup), the album features LTC guitarist Michael

Eisenstein, ex-Veruca Salt drummer and Gordon's brother Jim Shapiro on

guitar, and L.A. producer and session musician Jon Brion on a variety of

keyboards and guitar. The album also features keyboard assistance from

John Webster, who Gordon was proud to say had played a solo on Aerosmith's

hit "Janie's Got a Gun"

(RealAudio excerpt of live version).

"I love that song," Gordon said of the Aerosmith hit, "and I worked with

Bob again because when you drive up to his house, his mailbox says 'Rock.'

This is where they deliver the rock!"

More seriously, Gordon said she decided to work with Rock a second time

because of the bond they formed during the making of Eight Arms to

Hold You. "When I realized I'd be doing a solo record it was a dream

to work with him and have him play the role he wanted to play in Veruca

but because there was four strong personalities he couldn't."

Gordon first joined forces with guitarist/singer Post in 1991. 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 rose to stardom after the Gordon-penned "Seether"

(RealAudio excerpt) gained wide exposure on MTV. The band announced its

split in March 1998, following a tour in support of Eight Arms to

Hold You.

With both Gordon and Post in virtual seclusion since the break up of VS,

fans said they were excited for anything new from the band's members.

Brianna Jenkins, 17, of New York said she's been waiting forever to hear

what Gordon, her favorite of the two, will do on her own.

"I am not even going to try to underestimate her versatility, but I'm

thinking of some pretty and melodic buttery ballad type things, mixed in

with some loud and dauntless headache rock songs," Jenkins wrote in an

e-mail. "All of them catchy of course, but that goes without saying."

Although the singer said fans of Veruca Salt's mix of AC/DC-style rock

and hard-edge power pop will recognize that style in such new songs as

"Like It Happens Every Day," "Now I Can Die," "Got Me Down" and especially

the full-on rocker "Black and Blonde," Gordon said recording a solo

album allowed her to stretch her sound in ways Veruca Salt didn't.

"In a band you have to make compromises," Gordon said, alluding to some

of the tensions that broke up Veruca Salt. "And on this album we've been

able to experiment with a bunch of different things I don't think either

one of us has ever been able to do because there's been so many strict

rules of a rock band.

"When you're in a band where there has to be guitar on every song because

there are two guitar players in the band that want to play guitar. And

there has to be backing vocals because there are two singers who want to

be singing. It's kind of nice to just be like, 'Maybe this song doesn't

need guitar' " (RealAudio excerpt of interview).