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— by James Montgomery, with reporting by Matt Paco

Just to clear things up, the Veronicas are twin sisters from Brisbane, Australia, and have nothing to do with Archie Comics' raven-haired rich-girl Veronica Lodge or teen TV sleuth Veronica Mars.

In fact, neither of them is even named Veronica, nor do they know anyone with the name, all of which kind of begs the question: Why go with "the Veronicas" anyway?

"The name is something we thought about for a long time, and we wanted it to be a girl's name, but we didn't want it to be 'the Jesses,' " guitarist Jess Origliasso laughed. "We were very conscious of not wanting to make it a twin thing, because we think that's really tacky."

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"We didn't want it to be called 'the Lisas,' either," singer Lisa Origliasso added. "So one day we saw the movie 'Heathers,' and there's a line where one girl asks, 'Are you a Heather?' and Winona Ryder's character answers, 'No, I'm a Veronica,' and so we went with that, because she was this kind of cool, unique chick with an attitude."

And attitude is one thing the Veronicas have in spades. At the age of 5, the Origliasso sisters enrolled in an after-school musical theatre club, but after a few years of toiling away in low-budget revues of "Godspell" and "Hair," they ditched the club and decided to get serious. They took private voice lessons and for the next several years put in time playing gigs in Brisbane and around Australia's Gold Coast.

"We were getting tired of just doing nothing, and we figured that there was no better way to get experience than getting out there in front of people when you're that young," Jess said. "We were just kind of thrust out there and forced to make it work."

By the time they were 14, the sisters were playing covers of Elvis and Roy Orbison tunes, and making an honest-to-goodness living on the Australian festival circuit. And when Jess got a guitar for her 18th birthday, the Veronicas began banging out original songs, brief three-chord blurts that eventually found their way into the right hands. By the time they were 19, the Origliasso sisters had signed Engine Room, the Australian production team responsible for making the Vines bright (yet fleeting) international stars.

"They take Australian talent overseas, develop it and try to get a major label to pick them up," Lisa explained. "So we were really lucky to sign with them. They sent us over the top."

Or, more precisely, they sent them all around the world, to work with pop maestros like Sweden's Max Martin (Britney Spears, 'NSYNC) and Germany's Toby Gad (Milli Vanilli, Enrique Iglesias). And, after a year on the road, the Veronicas returned home with more than 60 songs and a contract with Sire Records.

Now, having just turned 20, they're prepping their debut album, The Secret Life of ... the Veronicas, a slippery, shiny mix of angsty lyrics and guitar solos, and they've just been tapped by Calvin Klein to be the faces of the designer's fall fashion campaign. It's the beginning stages of a full-fledged rock-and-roll invasion, and it's a whole lot cooler than anything their friends back in Brisbane are currently up to.

"We used to be jealous of all our friends who were just taking it easy while we were rehearsing and stuff," Lisa said. "But now were playing gigs while they're working at Mackey's."

"They don't say 'Mackey's' over here," Jess pointed out.

"Oh, right. Sorry. 'Mackey's' is Micky D's, McDonald's," Lisa laughed. "Sorry about that. That was my Australianess coming out."


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 "Everything I'm Not"
The Secret Lives of The Veronicas
(Reprise)

 "When It Falls Apart"
The Secret Lives of The Veronicas
(Reprise)
   Photo: Reprise


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