Exclusive,  Interview

Jon ALi Interviews: The Veronicas on ‘You Ruin Me’, Their Next Album, & Much More!

After a few set backs and a couple years away from the spotlight, Australian twin sisters Lisa and Jess Origlassio finally made their long-awaited return late last year with the release of their self-titled third studio album, The Veronicas! The follow-up to 2007’s Hook Me Up, which features the infectious “Cruel” and the stunning ballad “You Ruin Me,” is easily their finest and most eclectic work to date. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then you’re truly missing out. Just one day before their intimate showcase at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room on Thursday (March 26), I met up with the girls alongside my bae and co-writer Andrew Price to talk about their lead single “You Ruin Me,” their new record and its upcoming deluxe re-release, battling it out in the studio, their latest music videos, their fourth album, and much more – Check it all out below!

BUY The Veronicas self-titled third studio album The Veronicas on iTunes now!

JonALi: How long have you been in New York?

Lisa: We got here last Thursday.

JonALi: Okay, yeah, I feel like I saw something on Instagram.

Lisa: Yes, we’re very excited to come back to New York, it’s been a few years since we’ve been here. We just finished a tour in the UK and did some promo in France and Germany.

Jessica: We’re having a great time, though, it’s so fun here. We went to the history of –

Lisa: Natural History Museum.

Jessica: Yeah, and then we went to Sleep No More.

JonALi: Sleep No More is fun! With the masks and everything.

Jessica: Yeah.

Lisa: That was good fun, we’ve been getting into it.

Jessica: Walking around the streets, and catching the subway.

JonALi: And there’s been nice weather, you guys came at the right time. I saw that you just did VH1 Big Morning Buzz today? And you guys performed “You Ruin Me?”

Jessica: Yeah, we did. We just saw it back and we’re happy with it.

Lisa: We just watched it back. I often don’t do that. It takes a lot for me to want to watch it back.

Jessica: This is our first American TV performance.

JonALi: Wait, first ever?

Jessica: No, not ever, but in a long time. So we wanted to see it. We’re really excited about it.

JonALi: I absolutely love the album. I mean, I’ve been a big follower since the beginning, from the first album, and it’s really amazing hearing the maturity and the progression from that first album to now. And it’s just amazing how it sounds like you guys but like the older versions of you – what you are right now – which makes perfect sense.

The Veronicas: Thank you! That’s good.

JonALi: And I know that you guys plan on releasing a deluxe version of the album soon. When will that be out?

Lisa: Like June/July.

JonALi: June/July? Are those songs already done?

Lisa: Yep. Seven new songs.

JonALi: Are there any songs in particular that you’re really excited for the fans to hear?

Lisa: Yeah, there’s a couple.

Jessica: There’s a song called “Sugar Daddy” that I know we’ve released a bit of a teaser for. There’s another one called “Spirits In Sin” that’s sort of a Rock ‘n’ Roll song. And then there’s another song called “Strange” and another song called “101” that I’m really excited about.

Lisa: Yes, we love “101.”

Jessica: It’s almost like an electro-Swedish pop sounding track or something like that.

JonALi: Oh, okay, I love the sound of that. Everything that’s coming out of Sweden right now is kind of insanely great.

Jessica: They’re so good in Sweden!

Lisa: They just understand pop.

JonALi: There’s something in the water there; everything is so great.

Jessica: Do you know what it is? I think it’s the language barrier; they communicate through melody. The way that they write is first with melody, and —
Lisa: Oh, they’re brilliant melodicists. They, like, just burp out great melodies.

Jessica: And then, lyrically… they just know how to make it fit in a perfect hook.

JonALi: And sometimes it’s just so simple. And you’re just like “What?!”

The Veronicas: Exactly.

Jessica: Because, again, English isn’t their first language, so they just gravitate toward the hooks and melody so brilliantly. They just tell all the stories with the melody.

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JonALi: Which makes me think about how all the artists who come from Australia also have their own distinct style and sound.

Jessica: Ahhhh. Yeah?

JonALi: Yeah, like with Kylie Minogue. You know when a Kylie song comes on. It just sounds like Kylie. And with you guys too, it’s the same thing. “That’s The Veronicas.”

Jessica: That’s sweet of you. Thank you, that’s cool.

Lisa: Yeah, I think our signature… the DNA, the blueprint of who The Veronicas are really comes down to our vocals together. Our voices are so completely different from each other, but when we harmonize together, I think this thing happens that is unmistakably us. And this last record is very eclectic sonically. We dabble in a bit of trip-hop with “Cold,” or we go for the real stripped-back acoustic thing with “You And Me,” or the really Massive Attack-y, kind of electro-y feel of “Line of Fire” or “Did You Miss Me?” and then the soul/blues route with “Sanctified” and “Always.” So, we definitely challenged ourselves and did a little bit of everything because we’re a little bit schiz like that – true to us, I guess – and I think it’s our vocals and melodies we write that really weave it all together.

JonALi: Agreed. Speaking of the blending of your voices… when it comes to the recording of these songs, who is deciding who should sing which verse, who should ad lib, etc. Who’s doing that?

Jessica: Well, we both do. And sometimes a punch out will have to happen in order to figure out who’s gonna… no. No, we don’t like to resort to violence. Sometimes it happens, but a lot of times we’re so familiar with the strengths of our voices that it’s usually pretty obvious to us when we’re writing a song who’s gonna sing what. But, every now and then something will come along where we won’t be sure and we will literally battle it out. Sometimes we’ll literally both put down the entire songs ourselves. Lisa will sing the entire song and then I’ll sing the entire song and then we’ll add harmonies and then from there we’ll just listen back to vocal takes and we’ll just pick who fits the best. So then it’s just left up to a sonic thing. Sometimes it’s the story. On “You Ruin Me,Lisa sings the first half of the entire song. I might as well not even be in the band. I mean, I never sang a fucking harmony in my life and all of a sudden I’m the backing singer.

Lisa: But babe, you sing that fucking harmony like it’s a lead, like it’s a fucking lead.

Jessica: Lisa’s mad at me cause I can’t blend my voice.

Lisa: I’m like “Babe, it’s a harmony. Blend it back. Back.” She’s like “I can’t help that my vocal is a lead singer voice. My vocal tone is lead singer.”

Jessica: It’s true. It overpowers everything. You wanna put me on fucking harmony I’ll sing that harmony like it is a lead vocal.

Lisa: I was like “Give me my fucking moment.” But you know what? You’re allowed to in that song. You do that.

Jessica: Yeah, but, for that song, obviously she connected with the very real-time vulnerability of that recording and you can hear it in her voice, like, she was going through it at that very moment in time. So that can also dictate how vocals go.

JonALi: That song. I first heard it when it premiered on Australian radio, because here we have to wait a little bit because I know you guys have to do everything there first. Which is fine, it’s okay, there are other ways…

Jessica: Yeah, they get cranky if we do it elsewhere first [Laughs]

JonALi: No, I totally get it. I was thrown off because usually a first single is BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. And “You Ruin Me” is such a stripped back song for you guys. When you had all those songs laid out was it obviously the lead single?

Jessica: No! No, we had the entire album pretty much done. We were almost ready to go with another song as the first single.

Lisa: Not almost, we were, we were ready to go with another song as the first single.

JonALi: And it was huge, it did so well. Were you surprised by that?

Lisa: We were completely surprised. We were blown away just by the suggestion that it should be the first single.

Jessica: The album was done and we were sort of writing for fun at that point. The songs were being mixed and mastered and there was a little bit of down time.

Lisa: We wrote the song and didn’t think about it again. But someone in the label heard it and asked us about it, and we were like “Oh, it’s just a song we wrote.” And then the record company was like “This needs to be on the album.” And we were like “Really? On the album?” And then they were like “It needs to be the first single.” And we were like “Really?! What are you smoking? That’s insane.”

JonALi: Yeah, it’s such a gorgeous ballad.

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Lisa: It was kind of a very daunting, crazy suggestion because we both connected with the song, we were in love with it, but as the first single after so long… its such a vulnerable, personal song and it’s us in a way that people aren’t used to seeing The Veronicas.

Jessica: And it almost felt like it was so personal. Like, we wrote it because Lisa needed to write it out, and then it was like “Are you cool with showing this very very personal side of yourself as the first thing back?” cause all the attention is gonna be on that.

Lisa: And I was like “I get to sing the first half of the song. Yep. Cool with that.”

Jessica: Absolutely no way that this can be our first single [Laughs].

Lisa: And I was like “I think this is the most brilliant suggestion.”

Jessica: But it was daunting and incredibly exciting. Very exciting for us.

JonALi: And the video… first you guys come with that song, and then that video. I don’t think we’ve seen such a concept in a video from you guys and it was executed so well. You’re acting in it and there are all these twists and turns and you guys look so insanely good. It’s your visuals – you’re so on point with your visuals this time around and there’s something so striking, I guess because you look alike, obviously, but there’s something there that’s really intriguing about that.

Lisa: That’s really cool cause I always wonder how people observe that. I know how I perceive it, but we like that sort of slightly uncomfortable thing. That’s what I’ve loved about Lady Gaga. I love artists that are willing to go there. We wanted it to be cinematic, we wanted the song to be the soundtrack to this sort of mini movie like world that was going on and after we found out it was going to be our single, we were on a flight home to Brisbane and Jess was just like literally listening to it and then stopping every thirty seconds with these ideas. “Okay it’s gonna be ballet, I see ballet dancers. There’s like a ballet teacher,” and she’s just coming up with the concept on the flight and so we just knew what it needed to look like and obviously we’re very attracted to the darker story lines and the darker look and that’s sort of where our hearts are.

Jessica: We had fun with the costuming – it was so fun.

JonALi: Yeah, it was like a mini movie. That must’ve been a really good video to shoot.

The Veronicas: Yeah, three day shoot.

Lisa: And then have you seen the video for “Cruel?”

JonALi: Yes!

Lisa: So that’s almost the continuation. It’s that energetic flow onto “Cruel.”

JonALi: Is that gonna be a continuous theme with the rest?

Jessica: Um… maybe. We haven’t picked the fourth single yet. We’re up to the fourth. We’ll be releasing it in Australia in a little while.

Lisa: It’s funny cause we’re definitely cutting our teeth on “You Ruin Me” and even “If You Love Someone” and “Cruel” so I feel like now at this particular spot, the next video is gonna be crazy. I think we were just getting comfortable with our creative ideas and seeing how they translate onto a screen. We had to find a director who really understood what we were trying to do.

Jessica: Do you know when we, sorry to interrupt, you just reminded me when we shot “You Ruin Me” we actually held it off for a month. They wanted to release it a lot sooner and make the video sooner but we didn’t find a director we felt like we connected with. We went through, I’m not kidding, about thirty-five different directors and we felt like we would rather not make a music video than make one with someone that doesn’t understand our vision. Someone that we can collaborate with. So we held off for a month. They were like tearing our hair out, like “We need to get this fucking video done, girls,” but we needed to find the right person. Like, this is so important to us. This is just as important as the song – the visual. So it was crazy. We ended up booking a trip to LA to do some more songwriting and the suggestion of this guy came up.

Lisa: This guy had done nothing before.

Jessica: We just saw something small that he had filmed.

Lisa: He had never really done video clips.

Jessica: And we were like that’s why we came to LA, I guess, that’s why we had this conversation with these people. Like it was all just… yeah it’s funny how things are just meant to be sometimes.

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Photo credit: Ivan Disla

JonALi: Yeah, it worked out. It seems like it was supposed to happen that way. And if you guys are gonna really push it for the next one then I think you should go full on with it. No holding back.

Jessica: I actually want to work with a different director for the next one, I want to branch out. There’s a certain director that I’ve found, a really young guy in Australia that hasn’t done a lot of stuff, and of course there are budgets, too. And of course there are directors that are huge directors that would totally get it if they weren’t out of the budget.

Lisa: Oh my god, who’s that woman? Floria Sigismondi.

Jessica: Floria Sigismondi.

Lisa: Have you seen her stuff? She’s done Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Katy PerryE.T.

Jessica: She’s like, major major major.

Lisa: She’s the best. She is our style.

Jessica: Unbelievable cinematographer. I’m hoping that we just have a really big hit so that for the next single we can be like Floria!! Please do our next video! Please, just lower your budget a little bit and work with us.

Lisa: I would love to get someone like her on board to create an entire visual storyline for an entire album, kind of like what Beyonce did but almost more like a short story of it. A storyline that visually connects.

Jessica: But yeah, we get very dreamy and then we get pulled back to reality. I recently did find this young director in Australia who’s still in university and he is fucking unreal. He is wild. Completely out of the box. Our other director that did the last three videos was great at executing great cinematography, but he wasn’t wild in the right ways that we needed him to be wild. This guy is wild.

JonALi: So he’s, like, ready for anything? So you want batshit?

Jessica: Oh, I feel like we could throw him some crazy shit. Yes, I want something batshit fucking insane. Yeah, I wanna get out of the box a little.

JonALi: Yeah, do it. I can’t wait to see.

Lisa: It’s been a bit of a progression to get to that place, just because we were so connected and in love with so much of the music that we created over the last few years that, in a sense, we needed to get that out there before we can move on to that place where we really feel that way.

Jessica: We’re already starting talks about writing for the next record. Now that we’ve done the songs that have meant so much to out hearts that we needed to write out, I want to do some fucking wacky production-based stuff. But we needed to be able to go through this phase. Connecting with these songs is everything, it feels so good for our souls. And then I want to be able to indulge in a different creative path. Which is exactly what we did. The first record was very much our stories, the second record – production. Third record – stories. The fourth record will be production again. So, it’s exciting!

JonALi: Are there songs from each album that you are especially proud of?

Jessica:Mouth Shut” from The Secret Life of… and “Heavily Broken.” Second record: “This Is How It Feels.” That song is my mental vibe, I have the most fun onstage ever with that song

Lisa: Me too.

Jessica:This Is How It Feels” and “Untouched.” And then from this one “Cold,” “Let Me Out.”

Lisa:Cold,” “Line Of Fire.”

JonALi: Yeah. Those are great songs. I really love “Cruel.” It’s great.

The Veronicas: Do you?!?

JonALi:Mad Love” is also one of my favorites. That one was my first. I love the album because I keep finding new favorites with repeated listens.

Jessica: I really love “Born Bob Dylan,” too.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. I like “Always” as well.

Jessica: I mean, they’re all so fun right now cause it’s a new record. And touring for this record is insane. We just toured through the UK. We would literally go energy out to the extreme and then we’d just pull it back to super intimate and then just go back again.

JonALi: There’s no medium. Like one-hundred and crazy percent or very little?

Jessica: There is no middle ground, nope.

JonALi: Amazing!! Well I can’t wait for you guys to come back and do a full tour. Thanks so much for taking this time to meet with me, it’s truly been an honor. Stay killin in, I love you guys.

The Veronicas: It’s been a pleasure, thank you guys. This was so much fun.

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