Interview – The Veronicas’ Lisa Origliasso on Hook Me Up
– by Shawn Conner
Hook Me Up, The Veronicas‘ second album, is gonna be huge, if it isn’t already. “Untouched”, the opener, has a great dramatic violin hook; “Take Me On the Floor” might make even today’s post-tween’s ears burn.
Sure, the disc is overwritten (with hit-maker collaborators like Greg Wells and Billy Steinberg), overproduced and somewhat calculated, but it’s still a fun pop record, in the way Kelly Clarkson makes fun pop records, and catchy as hell. It follows the 2004 mega-smash (in their homeland) debut The Secret Life of…
Lisa Origliasso, one of the two 24-year-old twin Veronicas, proved to be an awesome interview – really nice, and passionate about PETA, always a good thing in this animal lover’s book. The only problem; she talked a mile a minute in a hard-to-decipher Aussie accent. Oh well, one of the hazards of the job.
We were conferenced while the young Australian was enjoying a day off in New Orleans, four shows into the Veronicas’ current headlining North American tour.
Shawn Conner: You’re headlining now, but you were opening up for the Jonas Brothers before?
Lisa Origliasso: We did a bunch of supporting tours last year, the Jonas Brothers, Katy Perry, Natasha Bedingfield, Hanson. This is really exciting to be doing our headlining tour. This is like our third headlining tour, but our biggest to date.
SC: How long before tour fatigue sets in?
LO: We call it cabin fever. I think it’s a pretty permanent thing by now. We’ve constantly been on the road. We live out of suitcases and buses and hotels and planes. We call it one big jetlag. We’re gypsies.
SC: I get the impression your fans look up to you as fashion role models. How hard is it to have a new cool outfit every night on the road?
LO: We’re not that crazy, where we have to have a new outfit every time. We’re the kind of girls if we find something we love, we wear it ’til it cannot be worn anymore. On the road, it’s not glamorous at all. You shower every second or third day, you don’t get to wash your clothes very often. On our tours we kind of do that whole dirty rock ‘n’ roll thing, as far as clothing goes. When we get the chance to dress up and do red carpets or certain appearances we love to do our own thing. We try to do our own thing—we look to Japanese fashion mags, catwalk fashion stuff. We love going through vintage stores and altering things to make them our own.
SC: You have your own fashion line, right?
LO: Yeah, in Australia. It’s a young girls’ fashion line. It’s very affordable stuff for young girls through Target over there.
SC: So nothing for 43-year-old music critics.
LO: We could come up with something if you wanted!
SC: Tell me about your band members – are they from Australia or Los Angeles [where The Veronicas have been living]?
LO: One of them’s from Brazil, our guitarist George. He’s one of the original members – he’s been with us for about five years. And then there’s Vik Foxx, our drummer, originally from Chicago. He also is an original member from about five years now. And Sherman, the bassist, is the newest member. He’s been with us for about a year. He kind of makes the sound of The Veronicas make sense.
SC: And your band, do they do the dirty rock ’n’ roll thing, or do they change their clothes a little more often?
LO: You know, I feel like the boys are cleaner [laughs]… they wash more than we do. It’s a boy thing. We have showers at certain venues and the boys are willing to brave them. I almost feel cleaner not showering and waiting the next day.
SC: Tell me a little bit about writing this record. You’ve written it with a bunch of different people, like Madonna collaborator Billy Steinberg. What do they bring to the songs that you and your sister can’t, or don’t?
LO: I guess, as far as collaborating with other producers and songwriters, the whole thing is sometimes they take an approach or direction you might not have thought of yourself.
Jess and I are definitely used to writing with each other. We’ve been writing together since we were 15, 16 years old. We definitely have a similar approach, so when we write with other people, especially when you click, and you can bounce ideas off each other – like with Toby Gad, who we wrote a lot of this record with and worked with us on our first record, I guess the cool thing is he really gets us, especially on this second record.
It was extremely honest this record because the approach we took was writing from our experiences. We’re literally pouring our hearts out, telling him what’s been happening in our lives – we had this success in Australia, gone through relationships and traveling and growing up and dealing with success and being in the public eye. So we were just literally telling him how we felt about everything, and it turned out into all these songs, almost like diary entries. Because of that, this record was done quickly.
SC: What was the incident that inspired “Take Me On the Floor”?
LO: “Take Me On the Floor.” Hah. Well, the truthful story… No. It was inspired by a lot of music we were listening to at the time. We wrote this record about two years ago. The electro pop-rock dance thing hadn’t really hit the mainstream.
There was no Lady Gaga or Katy Perry at that point, these dance acts that are around now weren’t really what we were listening to. We were listening to the electric bands that seemed to be a little more underground, like CSS who are from Brazil. And bands from L.A. like Shiny Toy Guns.
SC: Maybe Peaches?
LO: Definitely. We were listening to a lot of that stuff and saying I think this is what’s going to hit next. We were wanting to make our own sound being inspired by these new – I guess for us it was new – it was reasonably different from our first record, which was straight-up rock/pop. We were like, yeah, this is cool, this is inspiring us, we want to bring this into our sound. “Take Me On the Floor” was heavily inspired by that kind of thing.
And we were thinking of different marketing approaches even. I mean, our songs weren’t being played on mainstream radio in America at all, and by bringing in this dance-electro element maybe it’ll get played in clubs, maybe people will remix them.
The music we were listening to at the time, that’s what they were doing. “Take Me on the Floor” was the first song we wrote with Toby that captured that essence. We wanted to make it a fun party dance track. You can kind of take what you want from the lyrics… if you’re playing it in a club it’s about dancing. But you know you can make it what you want to make it about.
We really fought for that sound too. When we were like, This is what we want the record to sound like, people were saying, What are you thinking, this isn’t going to work. This isn’t what they’re playing on the radio, this doesn’t sound like anything else.
And we were like good, we don’t want to sound like anything else. We want to sound original, to bring something new, to keep music current and not freaking sound like every artist out there. I guess that’s maybe why, because our record’s been out in the U.S. for, wow, almost a year, it’s finally hitting now. In some ways I feel maybe it was a little too current.
SC: Did George your Brazilian guitarist have anything to do with hooking you up with [Brazilian band] CSS?
LO: Yeah, he actually did play us CSS. He actually comes from a bit of a punk-rock background himself, he had a very successful band back in Brazil before he moved to L.A. He made Jess and I a mixed CD of all these amazing bands, and CSS was one of them.
SC: One more question, because I know our time’s running out…
LO: I’m sorry, I talk a lot.
SC: Oh no, that’s how I like my interviews. When I don’t have to say anything. Then I have less chance to put my foot in it. Is it you or your sister who’s the very strong supporter of PETA?
LO: Oh, we definitely both are. Jess is very vocal, opinionated. She’s vegetarian. I definitely support that. I’d never come out and say I’m this or that, I don’t want to be stuck in a sense. But Jess is very much behind that and I really support that.
Thanks to her, I don’t eat much meat any more at all, we’re both very passionate about being anti-fur and just basically standing up for animal rights in every way. In Australia we’re ambassadors for the Wildlife Hospital Ranch, supported by Steve Irwin‘s Wildlife Warriors.
We’ve worked very close to PETA, and we’re very passionate about standing up for animal rights and getting the message out there to the younger generation and our fans on what we can do to save our wildlife and do what we can to protect these animals from brutal people out there who just do horrible things.
SC: It’s because of your website I learned about that practice about raising alligators for purses.
LO: It’s absolutely disgusting. The things people do. We’re not going to be an ignorant generation. The younger generation are the people who can help change things. We’re in a position where we have a lot of younger fans, so we can get that message out there. I guess alligators is one thing, Chinese fur farms where they raise these animals to skin them alive, it’s a really horrific thing.
We can go on for hours about this. We’re not going to let people be ignorant. That saying, ignorance is bliss, yeah it is. When people see fur jacket in a store and they think it looks cool, we want them to know where it actually comes from. Once they are educated, they’re going to make a different choice. We want people to understand this so they can make the right decision.