Five years ago, The Veronicas — the Australian alt-pop band fronted by twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso — went quiet. But no longer.
Officially formed in 2004, The Veronicas first garnered international attention with their 2007 single, “Untouched,” the first single from their second studio album, Hook Me Up. “Untouched” featured naughty yet forlorn lyrics, perfectly encapsulating the kind of music and vibes that anxiety ridden early aughts teenagers were hungry for. Peaking at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Untouched" sent young listeners into frenzies with a thrumming bass line and electric guitars, and brought the sisters rockstar status with packed venues around the world.
“We were so young when we released our first album, The Secret Life of..., that by the time we were recording the second one, we had figured out our sound,” The Veronicas tell Billboard. “It [“Untouched”] really did pave the way for The Veronicas. It laid the DNA for what we are.”
But after the release of their self-titled third studio album in 2014, the songstresses went on something of a hiatus to live their lives. Lisa got married, and Jessica formed a very public relationship with fellow Aussie and it-girl Ruby Rose (Jessica is now with her partner Kai Carlton). But then, this past March, the pair made their sudden return with their single “Think of Me,” a song that gloriously revisits what makes The Veronicas special: dramatic, danceable beats, with dark sensibilities and excellent harmonizations. “Lyrically, people instantly know 'Think of Me' is by us because it sits just outside the box ... without having to be overt about it,” Lisa explains. “It’s a sad dance song, which is very us.”
Yet the pair have little to be sad about these days. Now both in loving relationships, with their fourth studio album due later this year, and a new MTV reality series slated for this fall, The Veronicas are ready to take over the world again. Billboard sat down with the Aussie singers for what they said was their first U.S. interview in five years, to talk about their lives and what it’s like coming back to music in 2019.
Many listeners outside Australia were introduced to The Veronicas with your single, “Untouched.” What was that experience like?
Lisa: We were so blessed with our first album. We got to write with the most amazing juggernaut songwriters like Max Martin, Billy Steinberg… just iconic people. “Untouched” was actually the first time we branched out on our own. We took everything we had learned from writing our first record with those amazing people and experimented. For us it was really about combining genres, combining different elements from our first record with what we were listening to at the time.
Jess: “Untouched” is also the first song that we wrote for our second record, and it’s really a snapshot of what was happening in our minds creatively at that time. We are so proud that that's the song that really stayed with people and identified the blueprint for The Veronicas, because it was truly linked to our idea of creation.
How’s life been since The Veronicas went on hiatus?
Jess: It hasn't felt as much like a hiatus as it has just living life and dealing with certain things. Obviously, after our second record there was some time there changing record companies and having to relocate for that. So that took a couple years, and then after that we released our third record, and until now it’s just been about living life. And as songwriters, sometimes you don't always have the luxury of writing when you feel like writing, sometimes you just have to write, get into sessions and do it. So we’ve been waiting for the right time to write out what's been happening in our lives.
Lisa: Since songwriting has always been such a huge part of our creative outlet, and our artistry, we really do take our time to get in the studio, get on the same page, and be able to create from that inspired space. You know, there's a lot of different songwriting camps and different producers and writers who do a lot of writing for other artists. We just get so much out of being the songwriters, and telling our stories.
And we've done a lot of collaborating with different artists, different producers, different writers ... but behind every song it is very much our stories and our voices. It’s great to have people bring you ideas, and I know a lot of artists these days do that. They have their writing camps and they sort of pick and choose between songs. But for us, we like to be able to weave the recording session with where we're at and what we're feeling ... sonically, lyrically, and poetically.
It must also be so important, especially as sisters, to get on the same creative page with each other.
Lisa: Absolutely! The Veronicas definitely has a different dynamic than most bands. It's a whole thing in itself. So being on the same page is incredibly important for us to be creatively progressive and excited. We definitely need to be getting along! Although we don't mind a couple creative differences, because we're both so passionate, those are bound to happen regardless. It's because we love it so much.
It sounds like you’re coming back to music now simply because the creative timing is right.
Lisa: For sure. Life has led us back together again, at this moment, right here. Sometimes you do have to take that time apart, for whatever reason. Personal lives, relationships, all these wonderful, crazy, beautiful things happen. And if anything, taking that time apart has re-inspired and reignited our bond as sisters and our intrinsic creative voice. It’s reignited our ability to be...
What can we expect from this next album?
Jess: We're doing a lot of collaborations for this one, which is something we haven't done with previous albums. Getting into the studio with other artists and mixing their sounds with ours has been a huge part of this project.
Lisa: There is a little bit of hip-hop. There's a lot of 80s big pop melodies. A lot of dancing. Very melodramatic, very bittersweet… a sort of sad pop. The emo vibe is still definitely in there!
You’ve been championing marriage equality and gay rights for years, and Jessica, you’ve been in public queer relationships and count yourself as part of the LGBTQ community as well. And this summer you’re making a huge splash in the U.S. Pride festival circuit, headlining all over the country and cementing your status as modern gay icons. Does this feel like a full circle to you?
Jess: I think from around the age of 19, when I had my first experience with a woman, my sexuality wasn't something I felt I needed to talk about or label, but I never hid it. I just lived openly, as loud as I wanted to be, which translated into our music really well. I know it resonated with our fans then, and I did know at that time that if people could relate to me then they would be able to embrace it. And I was embraced! I was embraced entirely and completely by the LGBTQ community. So I always felt very comfortable and confident to live exactly how I wanted to. Very publicly. I always felt empowered by and proud of the people that I love, the people that I’m attracted to. So much so that it comes out quite a lot in our art.
So it feels great to be doing all these Prides, but we’ve always been going to rallies and using our platform as much as possible to center voices around these causes and those conversations. Since we get so much love and support from the queer community around the world, we really wanted to connect with U.S. audiences too and put on amazing shows wherever we can!