Nina Gordon

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Nina Gordon
Born (1967-11-14) November 14, 1967 (age 47)
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Alternative rock, power pop, grunge
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1993–present
Labels Warner Bros.
Associated acts Veruca Salt
Notable instruments
Gibson Melody Maker
Green Gibson SG

Nina Rachel Gordon Shapiro (born November 14, 1967) is an American singer-songwriter. She's perhaps best known for being vocalist and guitarist of alternative rock band Veruca Salt, co-founded by her in Chicago, Illinois in 1993 alongside Louise Post. She left the band in 1998 due to creative differences, pursuing a solo career and releasing two albums, Tonight and the Rest of My Life (2000) and Bleeding Heart Graffiti (2006). As of 2013, Gordon is back in Veruca Salt.

Career[edit]

Veruca Salt[edit]

Veruca Salt was formed alongside the friendship of Gordon and Louise Post. Introduced by Gordon's good friend, actress Lili Taylor, Gordon and Post quickly bonded and formed what is now known as Veruca Salt. Originally, the band was an Indigo Girls-inspired acoustic act, but the women soon realized that this wasn't their sound. They quickly enlisted bass player Steve Lack and Gordon's brother, Jim Shapiro, a guitarist who joined as the band's drummer as a favor to his sister.

Veruca Salt released a self-funded demo tape and shopped it to labels while playing a handful of small club shows. The buzz around the band grew furiously, and after only a few live gigs, the band was signed to Minty Fresh Records and began recording with producer Brad Wood who had recently worked on Liz Phair's critically acclaimed Exile in Guyville.

The band released an orange 7" single for the song "Seether". The song was a distorted alt-rocker about an angry and misunderstood woman. Compared to the rest of Veruca Salt's material, "Seether" was very pop, so much so that Gordon said that when she wrote it, she did not think the rest of the band would like it. They sent "Seether" to radio, as it was the most radio-friendly song they had written, and the reaction was unexpectedly positive. The album was not complete, and they found themselves rushing to complete it before "Seether" lost its radio momentum. It ended up peaking at #8 on the Modern Rock charts.

American Thighs was released through Minty Fresh Records on September 27, 1994 and re-released November 8, 1994 by Geffen Records after the label signed the band following an intense label bidding war. The album peaked on the Billboard Top 200 at 69 and was eventually certified Gold. The follow-up single to "Seether", "All Hail Me", failed to chart on the Modern Rock Charts, and the last single from the album, "Number One Blind", written by Gordon and Shapiro, did better than the previous single, peaking at #20 on the Modern Rock charts, but nowhere near as well as "Seether". Gordon and Post were unhappy with the song's video, and it was pulled after airing fewer than five times on MTV's 120 Minutes.

To support the album, Veruca Salt toured, opening for acts such as Hole, Live and PJ Harvey. They also headlined a club tour.

The band released an EP in 1996 titled Blow It Out Your Ass It's Veruca Salt to tide fans over until their next album. It was produced by Steve Albini (PJ Harvey, Nirvana) and contains the Gordon-penned "Shimmer Like a Girl" and "New York Mining Disaster 1996".

During this time Gordon collaborated with James Iha on the Smashing Pumpkins' "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" B-side, "...Said Sadly", and also recorded duets with Fig Dish and Triplefastaction.

After touring for American Thighs, Veruca Salt entered the studio with Bob Rock to record their second album. The band was inspired to work with Rock after hearing Metallica's "Enter Sandman" over the house PA system before a Veruca Salt concert at an outdoor music festival.

Eight Arms to Hold You, which was released February 11, 1997 on Geffen Records, proved to be a difficult and dividing album. Some fans of American Thighs were disappointed by the polished, hard-rock and distinctively Bob Rock production, in comparison to the laid back, indie buzz-bin vibe of American Thighs. The new album garnered mixed reviews from music critics as well. Band members have since admitted that this album was difficult for the band, and the recording process was extremely tense. However, Eight Arms to Hold You sold well due to the success of the first single, "Volcano Girls", written by Gordon. It was a catchy, power-pop tantrum that matched "Seether"'s success, peaking at #8 on the Modern Rock charts. The album, however, didn't have longevity, and despite peaking higher (Billboard Top 200 at 55) than American Thighs, sales dropped off drastically when the second single, "Shutterbug", failed to chart, despite a high budget video and Saturday Night Live performance, as well as other promotion. Three more singles were sent to radio ("The Morning Sad", "Straight" and "Benjamin") but none of them did well enough to warrant a video. However, the Gordon-penned "'Benjamin" was released internationally as the third and last commercial single from the album despite having no video and no promotion. "Benjamin" also failed to chart.

Veruca Salt toured extensively for Eight Arms to Hold You, opening for Bush as well as a lengthy international headlining club tour.

In 2013, it was announced that the original line up of Veruca Salt have gotten back together. The band announced tour dates in April 2014, and released a 10" single on Record Store Day.

Solo[edit]

Nina Gordon left Veruca Salt in early 1998. Post kept the Veruca Salt name, due to the fact that the pair had an agreement that if one of them ever left the band, the other would get to continue using the name. Resolver was released in 2000, the first Gordon-less Veruca Salt album.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]

Soon after leaving Veruca Salt, Gordon demoed solo material in Boston with friends Kay Hanley and Michael Eisenstein from the band Letters to Cleo. In 1998, she sang on James Iha's solo album Let It Come Down on the song "Beauty." Shortly after, she began recording with Eight Arms producer Bob Rock. The album, now titled Tonight and the Rest of My Life, was finished in early 1999 and was set to be released by the Outpost Records label, owned by Geffen Records, in August 1999. However, not all went smoothly, as the merger of Geffen Records with Interscope Records forced Outpost Records to fold, leaving Gordon without a label.

Gordon did not remain without a label for long, however, as Warner Bros. Records signed her a few months later. Originally scheduled to be released in January 2000, Tonight was finally released on June 27, 2000. The first single, also titled "Tonight and the Rest of My Life," did well on radio and has since been included in commercials for hit movies such as Chocolat and The Notebook. The second single "Now I Can Die," performed more poorly, but the third single, a radio-only single titled "2003," actually performed better despite having little promotion and no video.

Gordon toured with David Gray as an opening act, and did a headlining tour with Palo Alto.

Tonight and the Rest of My Life peaked at a disappointing 123 on the Billboard Top 200.[2] However, it floated around the mid-100s for months, and has sold close to 300,000 copies to date in the U.S. and 50,000 in Japan.

After Nina Gordon finished promoting Tonight and the Rest of My Life in late 2001, she took a break and began writing material for her second solo album. However, she didn't get into the studio again until late 2003. Reasons for this two-year delay are uncertain, but Gordon says it was because she wanted to write a lot of great material[citation needed] . To tide fans over, Gordon released B-side material from Tonight on her website and a demo for a song called "The Time Comes", which was featured in the independent movie, Stealing Innocence.

Gordon began recording her second album with Ethan Johns in late 2003, and via her website stated she was excited with the direction the album was going, even though it was very, very mellow and sad. Gordon finished recording with Johns in early 2004 and stated that she had named it Even the Sunbeams, but little more about the album was ever revealed. A few months later, Gordon admitted she was unhappy with the album and she wasn't going to release it. The only song that surfaced from this recording session was "Lighter on the Moon", which was available on Nina's MySpace site. In April 2006, Gordon stated in the Chicago Reader, "It's a really sad and really slow record. I guess that’s how I was feeling at the time, but when I sorta snapped out of that, I thought, 'I don’t know that I want this to be the album I put out next.' It’s really a lovely record, but it didn't have the spirit of the records I've made in the past."[3] Some songs were re-recorded and included in her next album. The remaining songs were eventually made available free on her web site as an EP titled "Songs from Even the Sunbeams."

During this time, Gordon was performing at Largo in Los Angeles, for "Bring the Rock" nights, covering songs by N.W.A., Skid Row, Backstreet Boys and Phil Collins, as well as many others. Her cover of N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton" gained her popularity on Internet music blogs[citation needed] . She also wrote a song with Fefe Dobson titled "Get You Off" for Dobson's album Sunday Love (on which Gordon also sang back-up), as well as a song for Courtney Jaye's album Traveling Light titled "This Is the Day", which she wrote with boyfriend Jeff Russo.

Nina, still seeing promise in the material from Even the Sunbeams, booked producer and long-time friend Bob Rock to re-record the album in 2005. In a few months, Nina re-did most of the songs and recorded new songs as well. The album, now titled Bleeding Heart Graffiti, was released August 8, 2006 (originally scheduled to be released July 18). The first song to see the light of day from the project was the b-side "The Blue Hour", a half-French, half-English rock song that could be heard on Nina's website.

The lead single from Bleeding Heart Graffiti, "Kiss Me 'Til It Bleeds", was supposed to hit radio June 12, but ended up being delayed until mid-July. There was a "physical" promotional single for "Kiss Me 'Til It Bleeds" and it contained the Bleeding Heart Graffiti album track "Don't Let Me Down", as well as Nina's previous hit single, "Tonight and the Rest of My Life". Almost all radio stations received digital copies of the single rather than physical CD singles, however. There is no video for "Kiss Me 'Til It Bleeds" or plans for a video at all.

Personal life[edit]

Gordon is married to musician Jeff Russo with whom she has one daughter, Ivy Nightingale, (born 2006) and one son (born 2008).

Discography[edit]

Solo

Year Album
2000 Tonight and the Rest of My Life
2004 Even the Sunbeams (Unreleased)
2006 Bleeding Heart Graffiti

Veruca Salt

Year Album
1994 American Thighs
1996 Blow It Out Your Ass It's Veruca Salt
1997 Eight Arms to Hold You

Singles[edit]

Solo

Year Single
2000 "Tonight and the Rest of My Life"
2001 "Now I Can Die"
2001 2003 (Promo Only)
2006 "Kiss Me 'Til It Bleeds"

Veruca Salt

Year Single
1994 "Seether"
1995 "Number One Blind"
1997 "Volcano Girls"
1997 "Benjamin"
1997 "The Morning Sad" (Promo Only)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Tonight and the Rest of my Life Nina Gordon > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  2. ^ Nina Gordon - Tonight and the Rest of My Life > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic. Retrieved 31 March 2006.
  3. ^ Gordon speaks about shelving Even the Sunbeams. Chicago Reader. April 28, 2006. Retrieved April 28, 2006.

Sources[edit]

  • Harry, Deborah; Raphael, Amy. Never Mind the Bollocks. Women Rewrite Rock, Virago Press, 1995.

External links[edit]