Nina Rachel Gordon Shapiro (born November 14, 1967) is an American musician, singer and songwriter. She is best known for being vocalist and guitarist of alternative rock band Veruca Salt. 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). In 2013, after 15 years of personal and professional estrangement from Veruca Salt co-founder Louise Post, Gordon returned to the band.
Nina Gordon performing in 2015
|Birth name||Nina Rachel Gordon Shapiro|
|Born||November 14, 1967|
|Origin||Chicago, Illinois, US|
Veruca Salt was formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1992 by Nina Gordon and Louise Post. Introduced by Gordon's good friend, actress Lili Taylor, Gordon and Post quickly bonded and began playing music together. Originally, the band was an Indigo Girls-inspired acoustic act, but the women soon realized that this wasn't their sound. They 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.
During this time Gordon collaborated with other musicians on side projects. With Scott Miller, she co-wrote the song "The Softest Tip of Her Baby Tongue", which appeared on The Loud Family's 1996 album Interbabe Concern. She worked with James Iha on the Smashing Pumpkins song "...Said Sadly" (the B-side to their 1995 single "Bullet With Butterfly Wings"), and also recorded duets with Fig Dish and Triplefastaction.
To support the album, Veruca Salt toured, opening for acts such as Hole, Live and PJ Harvey. They also headlined a club tour, after which they 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. 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 and contains the Gordon-penned "Shimmer Like a Girl" and "New York Mining Disaster 1996".
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. In 2014, the band played several dates in the United States and Australia. The first post-reunion Veruca Salt album, Ghost Notes, was released on July 10, 2015 to favorable reviews.
Gordon appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor podcast on August 7, 2015 and revealed that Veruca Salt were approached to host a FOX comedy variety show in the '90s.
Nina Gordon left Veruca Salt in early 1998. Post kept the Veruca Salt name because 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.
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 in addition to an appearance on an episode of Charmed. 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. 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 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. 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." 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 . 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.
Still seeing promise in the material from Even the Sunbeams, Gordon 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 was no video for "Kiss Me 'Til It Bleeds" or plans for a video at all.
|2000||Tonight and the Rest of My Life|
|2004||Even the Sunbeams (Unreleased)|
|2006||Bleeding Heart Graffiti|
|1996||Blow It Out Your Ass It's Veruca Salt|
|1997||Eight Arms to Hold You|
|2000||"Tonight and the Rest of My Life"|
|2001||"Now I Can Die"|
|2001||"2003" (Promo Only)|
|2006||"Kiss Me 'Til It Bleeds"|
|1995||"Number One Blind"|
|1997||"The Morning Sad" (Promo Only)|
|2015||"Laughing in the Sugar Bowl"|
- Gordon, Nina (May 20, 2014). "Veruca Salt Have a Lot of Catching Up to Do". Noisey.Vice.com. Interviewed by Stephanie Dubick. VICE Media LLC. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- Milano, Brett (2015). Don't All Thank Me at Once. Alameda, California: 125 Books. p. 123. ISBN 9780692484692.
- "Reviews for 'Ghost Notes'". Metacritic.com. CBS Interactive. 2016. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Tonight and the Rest of my Life Nina Gordon > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
- Nina Gordon – Tonight and the Rest of My Life > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
- Mehr, Bob (April 28, 2006). "Gordon speaks about shelving Even the Sunbeams" (PDF). Chicago Reader. p. 5. Retrieved March 21, 2017.