Its almost exactly two years since the release of The Veronicas brilliant and phenomenally successful debut album, The Secret Life Of ... Over 300,000 copies sold in Australia alone, three top 10 singles, an ARIA Award, MTV awards, international success, hundreds of magazine covers, constant touring. So much more has happened to twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso in that time. Theyve gained a world full of life and musical experience, all while becoming two of the most recognisable young faces in Australia.
Now, however, its best you forget what you think you already know about The Veronicas, because this new album is set to change everything. This is HOOK ME UP and its a dramatic new sound that marks The Veronicas musical coming of age.
The first single, Hook Me Up, the title track, should have given everyone advance warning that the pop punk leanings of the girls debut album have given way to a more sophisticated electro-beat feel. What remains as a constant is, of course, the sisters signature harmonies and vocals now stronger than ever and that innate pop sensibility that will have everyone singing along to all the new songs after a couple of listens.
Id have to say this record is even more personal than the first one, says Jess. Its even more us than the first record, which was hard because the first record was very much us. Its just a progression, I guess. We were very conscious of not making a record that was the same as the first. A lot of artists tend to replicate their first record if its done well, but we definitely wanted to create this different sound for ourselves and reinvent The Veronicas.
A lot changed in our lives and weve changed a bit personally, so we just had a lot to say and we wanted to spend the time getting this new sound and creating something different, not just for us but for music in general.
Its been over two years since we wrote the first record so I guess over those two years our musical tastes had changed a little bit, offers Lisa. Weve been living in America and we got into the whole electro pop rock scene over there. Music-wise, we love all that stuff. I guess that scene is a bit more underground over there. When it came time to write the record, we were kind of really inspired by that kind of thing. And we had a lot to write about. We tend to draw from experiences from our own lives. The two years away from home and the people that weve met definitely played a big part in the songwriting of this record.
Work on HOOK ME UP began early in 2007 when the sisters returned to Los Angeles after a year of virtual non-stop international touring. The Secret Life Of ... had seen the girls co-write some 60 songs with a variety of writers as far a field as LA, Sweden and Australia as they formulated their sound. But for HOOK ME UP, Jess and Lisa knew exactly what they wanted to sound like, and who they wanted to co-write their songs with.
The first stop was a session with writers Shelly Peiken [whose credits include Christine Aguileras What a Girl Wants] and Greg Wells [who would very shortly rise to international prominence for his work with Mika]. Jess and Lisa brought with them a bunch of their favourite music, including songs by electro pop rock acts such as Swedens The Sounds and local LA acts like Shiny Toy Guns and Under The Influence Of Giants.
The first new song to come out of these sessions was, believe it or not, Hook Me Up, which obviously set the theme for everything else to follow. Its really funny that it ended up being the first single, laughs Jess, because we were really adamant about sitting down and not writing a single, just writing songs. So it was kind of ironic that it turned out to be the single because we went in all saying were not going to do the typical lets go write a hit sort of thing. We were like, Lets relax and take the time to experiment.
In the six months that followed, Lisa and Jess visited a few more of their favourite songwriters. They returned to the studio of the legendary Billy Steinberg [Madonna], who along with his songwriting partner Josh Alexander and the girls, had come up with some of the biggest tracks off The Secret Life Of ..., including the singles When It All Falls Apart and Leave Me Alone.
This time around, the partnership produced an epic new song called I Cant Stay Away. Another song from this collaboration which appears on HOOK ME UP is Someone Wake Me Up, although that was penned two years back and originally intended for the debut album. Together, however, these two tracks conveniently forge something of a bridge between the old and new sound of The Veronicas.
A new relationship the girls established during the writing period for HOOK ME UP was with John Feldmann, a writer and producer best known for his work with rock acts like Good Charlotte and The Used. Lisa says they absolutely loved working with John and the song they produced together, the big and broody I Dont Wanna Wait acts as the centre-piece of the new album.
But the most significant partnership or relationship for The Veronicas in creating HOOK ME UP was with their old friend, the celebrated New York-based German hit maker, Toby Gad. Toby and the girls had co-written three songs Secret, Mouth Shut and Speechless on The Secret Life Of ... Jess and Lisa knew he would play a big part on the new record, but they had no idea exactly how big.
Toby, who penned arguably 2007s biggest hit so far, Fergies Big Girls Dont Cry, flew to LA to hook up with the girls. Each day, he would drive over Jess and Lisas townhouse, where hed set up a makeshift studio in the loungeroom.
With Toby, wed gossip with him and tell him all the drama in our lives, laughs Lisa.
Thats why a lot of those songs come across as emotional and dramatic, continues Jess, because at the time, things were going on in our lives that we were singing about. So it was an extremely personal and intense kind of thing with a lot of it.
The results of the partnership are stunning, from the albums opening opus, Untouched, to razor-edged epics such This Is How It Feels and Revenge Is Sweeter, through to the albums funkiest moments in Take Me On The Floor and Popular. In all, eight of the albums 12 songs came from The Veronicas work with Toby.
HOOK ME UP very much represents the beginning of a new chapter in the already remarkable career of The Veronicas. It is, by any measure, a brave and brilliant recording. And if the reception granted to the first single is anything to go by, then it would seem The Veronicas fans and the music world at large are ready to accept that The Veronicas have grown up.
Its definitely been a crazy ride and it can go so quick that you often need to take a look back to see what youve achieved to see how far youve come, says Lisa. I hope the fans appreciate the music change. I now its a little bit different but I think theres always that room for an artist to grow and develop, and the fans too. We cant wait to tour. We just want to keep making music for as long as we can and we hope that people keep enjoying it.
Its a very, very personal record and were very proud of it, concludes Jess. Its very cool that its very upbeat. There are a couple of ballads on there but its very upbeat, beat-driven, dance record. And it came out exactly how we wanted it to, so were stoked.