"Seether" is Veruca Salt's claim to fame. But if the songs "Spiderman '79," "With David Bowie" or "Volcano Girls" strike a familiar chord, the chances are you listened to college radio in the '90s.
Nearly all the larger institutions of higher learning had a radio station. So it made sense to have pupils learn the broadcasting basics before callously tossing them into the real world.
Because faculty members had more important things to do, like preparing lectures, grading term papers and seducing supple students, the college radio air staff was given a relative free hand. Pretty soon, record labels figured out this was a great avenue to break bands - especially those locked out, for various reasons, from commercial radio. The whole college radio phenomena created its' own sub-culture.
Some bands became so big on college radio that not even commercial radio or the increasingly conservative MTV could ignore them. Among the numerous bands that found their way to a larger audience through college radio was one named after a character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Veruca Salt.
On New Year's Eve, '92, a pair of singer/guitarists were introduced through a mutual friend. A few months later, Louise Post and Nina Gordon decided to start a group. Bassist Steve Lack answered an ad. For drums, Gordon tapped her older brother, Jim Shapiro. The following year, Veruca Salt signed with Chicago's Minty Fresh Records and recorded "American Thighs," containing the soon-to-be-major "Seether."
Thanks to regional airplay, including college stations, Geffen Records picked up the album and re-released it with a strong college promo effort. That built a buzz no commercial radio music director could ignore. "Seether" jumped from college playlists, landing squarely in the mainstream. Unfortunately, the group never replicated that success.
Veruca Salt recorded "Eight Arms To Hold You" in '97. This album became another college favorite but it failed to have much impact beyond that. Gordon and Shapiro departed for the usual reasons (band conflicts, frustrations, etc.).
Gordon attempted a less-than-successful solo career before falling off the radar. Veruca Salt continued for a couple albums ("Resolver" and "IV") with the addition of Stacy Jones on drums.
The story doesn't end there. It just went on hiatus.
Veruca Salt regrouped in '13 and two years later released "Ghost Notes." The set which had "Laughing In The Sugar Bowl" and "The Gospel According To Saint Me," was the first album with the original line-up since '97.
1994 American Thighs Minty Fresh
1997 Eight Arms To Hold You
2015 Ghost Notes
College radio got it right. Veruca Salt was a great band. On "American Thighs" there's a rhythmic guitar-bass drone at the foundation of their songs. If the group had been fronted by a typical male vocalist, the sound would have been bottom heavy. But Gordon and Post's higher vocal range provides an appealing contrast.
They lighten up considerably on "Eight Arms To Hold You," with hand-claps and dead-on backing vocals, often sounding like an edgier version of the Bangles. Though "American Thighs" has "Seether," "All Hail Me" and "Spiderman '79," the more accomplished effort is "Eight Arms To Hold You." "Volcano Girls" is nearly "Seether" great and the group demonstrates their considerable pop sensibilities on "With David Bowie" (which actually owes more to the Cars and Go-Go's than Bowie), "Venus Man Trap" and "Morning Sad."