Entertainment & Arts

The Veronicas' triumphant return from pop purgatory

The Veronicas Image copyright Press release
Image caption The Veronicas are twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso

Last night, Australian pop duo The Veronicas crashed into the UK top 10 at number eight with the heart-wrenching ballad You Ruin Me.

As beautiful as it is bleak, it's the band's biggest hit to date - and their first in five years, after twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso spent half a decade trapped in record label purgatory.

"They stole four years of our career," Jessica tells the BBC, saying Warner Bros stalled, delayed and eventually refused to release their third album.

"There was nobody left at the company who had worked on [our] previous two records," she explains.

"We had four different CEOs and four different A&Rs - who are the people who help you create the album.

"It wasn't personal, but they weren't able to get their act together for such a long time. Nobody could make a decision - and that's when we knew we were in for a fight.

"So it became a bit of a battle, and it took one big bad-assed lawyer to help us get the hell out of that situation.

"It tests your faith, it tests your self-assurance and your confidence. Every part of you."

Image copyright Record company
Image caption Born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, the duo are an arena act in their home country

The band finally severed ties with the label last year, and were promptly snapped up by Sony, who will release a revamped version of the band's third album next year.

"We didn't write an entirely new record. This is a continuation," says Jessica.

"Half the record is from writing over the last couple of years and half is more recent. It's not like we started again - it's the best picks of all that stuff."

With so much material to choose from, they had to jettison sessions with high-profile collaborators like Nirvana producer Butch Vig, in favour of tracks with Emeli Sande and Jessica's former partner Billy Corgan ("a very complicated and beautiful soul," she says).


But one song that nearly didn't make it was You Ruin Me.

"You Ruin Me came about right at the very end," Jessica explains. "So when we wrote that song, we were done with the album."

Visceral and tear-drenched, the entire song was composed and recorded in just five hours, as Lisa poured her heart out about a recent break-up in the middle of the night.

"You play me like a symphony / Play me 'til your fingers bleed," she sings, apparently mid-sob.

"I'm your greatest masterpiece / You ruin me."

"Songs like that, you just can't plan for," says her sister.

"It doesn't matter how good a writer you are, it's channelling a very real emotion and that's why it turned out like the way it did."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The band's brand of edgy punk-pop has influenced the likes of Icona Pop and Charli XCX

Initially, though, the sisters weren't aware they had a hit on their hands.

"We flew back to Brisbane the next day and we didn't think about it again," Jessica confesses.

"A couple of weeks later we got a call from Sony and they said, 'we've heard this song you've written. It's beautiful, it's amazing'. And we were like, 'What one?'

"And when they said 'You Ruin Me', and that they wanted it for the first single, we were like, 'what are you talking about? Really?'"

"It felt really good because, for a label to be getting behind you on a song like that, was completely different reaction from what we'd had in the past four years. Lisa and I were really pumped about it."

Released in their homeland in September, You Ruin Me went straight to number one.

The Veronicas responded with a simple tweet to their old label: "Haha".

Image copyright Twitter

"Yeah, look, I can be a bit of a spiteful bitch," laughs Jessica. "But at the end of the day, it felt good."

"It wasn't personal. It wasn't aimed at a particular person. But that company was very, very happy for a long time, to sit on us and not allow us to do anything.

"It was criminal - but there's no better feeling in the world than being proved right."

In many ways, however, You Ruin Me's UK chart success has been more of a vindication for the band.

The song enters the top 10 without any support from Radio 1 or Radio 2, who normally exert a stranglehold over the charts.

Instead, Heart radio has championed the song, playing it up to six times a day over the last month, and the song has clearly spoken to the network's 9.1m listeners.

'Second debut'

"It's wild!" says Jessica. "Completely overwhelming."

"There's certain types of music where the artist sells the song - where it doesn't really matter what's going on with the song.

"But because we've been gone for so long, I don't think people even realised it was us. It just speaks volumes about where this song comes from, and how much people connected with that raw vulnerability."

"It makes me feel very understood and very happy."

The band acknowledge the silver lining to their enforced absence was the chance to write music without deadlines.

"As a fan of music, there's nothing I hate more than hearing an artist write a new album off the back of a successful record," Jessica says. "Usually they've rushed it, or they've gone into the studio with all the big guns to replicate what they'd just created.

Image copyright Record company
Image caption The video for You Ruin Me sees the song's story of betrayal and revenge played out in a Black Swan setting

"That's why people's first records are so magical because there's no context to compete with. They're starting off with a clean slate."

That's why the band see their self-titled record as a "second debut" (Jessica pointedly uses the term "relaunch" instead of comeback.)

"We were in the studio every day. We stayed completely focused. We poured our hearts and souls into the music, and patiently waited for that situation to come to an end."

And fans of the band's previous material - a sort of electro goth pop - will be pleased to hear they've not gone completely ballad crazy.

"The record is very eclectic," Jessica says. "It's open to big pop songs like [next single] If You Love Someone, it goes into trip-hop, it goes into hip-hop, it goes into country pop.

"Lisa and I joke that it's all of our different personalities and that's why it spans so many different styles. We're complicated women."

You Ruin Me is out now. The Veronicas' self-titled album is released on 21 November in Australia and February 2015 in the UK.

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