CHICAGO Years ago, when her parents were going through a separation and divorce that still haunts her today, Veruca Salt frontwoman Louise Post used to crawl out of her bed in her sleep.
If she didn't end up wandering the neighborhood streets in her pajamas, little Louise would sit down at the family piano and pound out a ruckus that woke the whole house. It was her unconscious way, she thinks, of ensuring she'd be heard amid the family turmoil.
"I still want to be heard so badly," Post said recently, talking about Veruca Salt's new record, Resolver, the band's first since co-founding singer/guitarist Nina Gordon quit in 1998.
"I'm really ranting and screaming on this album and practically weeping on a lot of it because the stakes are so high for me," Post said over lunch at the House of Blues. "This record had to come straight from my heart. It had to be the most open, vulnerable expression of music that I've ever made."
Exactly what Post is saying these days is at times a contradictory blend of anger and longing.
During a recent appearance on the "Mancow's Morning Madhouse" radio show, for instance, she did a 180 on Veruca Salt's punishing new rock single "Born Entertainer." Not only did the band render the song a delicate ballad, but Post also changed the line "she didn't get it, so fuck her" to "she didn't get it, God bless her. "
The same blend of rage and hurt color the song's bridge live and on record. "I dare you to ditch me," Post sings confidently, copping a melody from Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me." But only a moment later she demures with, "I beg you to miss me."
Splitting Up And Moving On
Veruca Salt almost broke up in 1998 when, after six years creating music together with Post, Gordon informed her bandmate through a curt fax that she was leaving the outfit and taking the group's management with her. That's how Post tells the story, anyway. Gordon declined to talk for this story.
At that point, Veruca Salt had scored twice, once with the bona fide hit "Seether" (RealAudio excerpt), from the band's debut, American Thighs (1994), and again with "Volcano Girls," a modest success from the band's sophomore album, Eight Arms to Hold You (1997).
Post said her acrimonious split with Gordon was inspired in part by Eight Arms to Hold You not living up to its expectations. While American Thighs was certified gold, its successor sold poorly. "We pretty much choked under the pressure of Eight Arms to Hold You not doing as well as everyone hoped it would," Post said.
With her friendship and business partnership with Gordon in tatters, Post set about building a new band for Resolver. The group now includes Stephen Fitzpatrick on guitar; Suzanne Sokol, a certified elementary school teacher, on bass; and Jimmy Madla, a former chef, on drums.
Post also brought on former Filter multi-instrumentalist Brian Liesegang who had a sympathetic ear because of his own split with Filter head Richard Patrick to produce.
Once a member of actor John Cusack's New Crime Theatre company, Post said she's happy to assume the center-stage spotlight in the band, no longer sharing guitar and vocal duties with a partner.
"I don't have anyone curbing my instincts, doing anything destructive to my self opinion," she said. "If anything, everyone in this band is mutually uplifting and encouraging."
They're certainly not defiant, judging from interaction at the House of Blues. Other bandmembers were quick to compliment Post and apologize for bringing up rumors related to her split with Gordon.
"Every band needs a leader, and now there's no confusion about that," Post said.
"But you're a leader more than just musically," Sokol said. "You do a lot to keep us all together as friends, too, separate from just playing. ... This is the happiest band I've ever been in."
Though some of the tracks on Resolver were collaborations with her new bandmates, the album is clearly a statement from Post, a flag planted firmly in the sand that says she refuses to roll over this far into the game.
"I'm not officially dead," she hollers on "Officially Dead" (RealAudio excerpt), a quiet-verse/loud-chorus number in the vein of Nirvana and the Pixies.
Although she claims she's poking fun at herself at points in "Born Entertainer" and "Best You Can Get" (RealAudio excerpt), Post more often turns her vitriol outward.
"Don't use me as your last crutch," she sings on "Only You Know." "I've taken you in, I trusted you way too much. ... You should have thought it through before you blew it."
Amid the recent turmoil, Post is creating a new ruckus to make sure she's heard.
While her target on some of the tracks may well be Gordon, Post said ex-boyfriends and family members also turn up. She's not concerned, she said, about how people interpret the disc.
"It is what it is, and I make no apologies for that."