The Veronicas are an Australian pop duet and pair of identical twin sisters, Lisa and Jessica Origliasso. Writing and performing since their early teens, the pair rocketed to stardom after signing with a music publisher in 2004 who worked with them on crafting radio-friendly pop fare. Their debut LP, The Secret Life of…, spent most of 2006 on the Australian Top 40 album charts. Writing in Billboard, Sven Philipp called them a "perfect teen pop/rock dream" and their original music "a cutesy concoction of surefire hooks, self-affirming vocals and youthful energy."
The Origliassos were born on December 25, 1984, in Brisbane, and Lisa is the older of the two by a minute. Of Italian heritage, they grew up in Albany Creek, a suburb of Brisbane, and began singing together at the age of five. They were extremely close, as is common with many sets of twins. "When we're separated I tend to get quite shy," Lisa told Australia's Sydney Morning Herald journalist Christine Sams. "Not to the point that I used to get, before we did the whole Veronicas thing, but before that I couldn't say much at all, because I wouldn't really talk." As youngsters the Origliassos entered local talent shows, and during their teens recorded three albums as "Lisa and Jessica." They later used the name The Teal before settling on The Veronicas, taking it from the long-running comic book character Veronica Lodge. "Veronica stood out," Lisa told Malcolm Venable, a writer for the Virginian Pilot. "She had a bit of an attitude."
After graduating from high school, they pursued their career ambitions in earnest, and gained major exposure when they were cast on a children's television series in Australia called Cybergirl in 2001. They lived in Los Angeles for a time, in an attempt to break into the music business, but had better luck back in Australia when they met Hayden Bell, music director for the Bell Hughes Music Group (BHMG). This influential Australian music company signed the twins in 2004, and made their first major label-destined demo recordings. Bell also put them together with some top pop industry songwriters, including Cliff Magness, who wrote "I'm With You" for Avril Lavigne, and Billy Steinberg, who penned Madonna's "Like a Virgin," in order to hone their songwriting skills. The effort paid off, and a tune they co-wrote with Steinberg, "All About Us," was the first single released by t.A.T.u., the Russian pop duo.
The Veronicas came to the attention of Warner Bros./Sire America in the United States, and were signed by legendary label chief Seymour Stein in a deal reportedly worth $2 million. As they were readying their debut LP for a late 2005 release, the twins found themselves embroiled in a lawsuit over their name when Archie Comics Publications sued them, along with Warner Music Group and their management company, for trademark infringement. As New York Times journalist Jeff Grossman wrote, "In July, Lisa Origliasso told TheAge, a Melbourne newspaper, that their name ‘was inspired by the Archie Comics’ because Veronica is known as the dark-haired rich teenager ‘who spends all her days and money on shopping.’ A copy of the article is included in Archie Comics' court papers. But the band's Web site, theveronicas.com, includes a link to the statement that ‘simply put, the Veronicas bear no resemblance to your standard prepackaged teen dream.’" In the lawsuit, Archie Comics Publications asked for $200 million in damages for violation of one of its carefully monitored comic book characters, but the Veronicas' manager, David Sonenberg set up a meeting for both sides. "I felt that if the owners had an opportunity to meet with Jess and Lisa, they would see that the girls' use of the name ‘The Veronicas’ would not pose a problem," the music business veteran told Wireless News. A settlement was indeed reached which resulted in a unique cross-promotion effort: the Veronicas became characters in a new Archie comic book, and readers could download one of their songs online using a special code.
The Veronicas' debut record, The Secret Life of…, was released in Australia in October of 2005 and went on to spend a year on the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Top 40 album charts. One track, "4ever," reached the number two spot on the Australian singles chart. Their songs of romantic troubles and teen angst won them an ardent fan base, and in Australia and New Zealand the twins became major celebrities. Their concert tours were sold-out events. "Not since Avril Lavigne wore her school tie has there been such a fashion shift among tween and teenage girls towards the look of a certain pop group," wrote Sams. "At the Veronicas concerts in Sydney last month there was an army of girls, aged from eight to 18, dressed in black and white with dots and stripes and bows and dark eyeliner and red lips and shoes." In Australia, ARIA honors homegrown artists with an annual music awards event, and in September of 2006 the Veronicas won the ARIA Award for Best Pop Release for their debut LP and performed live at the event.
The Secret Life of… was released in the United States in February of 2006, and their official U.S. debut was a record-release party at New York City's Avalon Ballroom. They played nearly all of the songs from the LP, prompting a writer for the New York Post to assert that the Veronicas "aren't your typical prepackaged teen-scream machine." The reporter also commended their unusual vocal abilities, noting that "in a single song they can split into precise harmonies, and then with that special identical twin ESP the pair focuses its vocals into a single fat voice. Call it organic echo."
In March of 2006, the Veronicas' single "4ever" appeared on the soundtrack to the Amanda Bynes movie She's the Man, which boosted U.S. sales. Back home, they embarked on a national tour and also began writing songs for their next effort. The first single from it, "Hook Me Up," was released in Australia in August of 2007 and became their first number one hit. It was also the title track to their second album, released in November of 2007; like its predecessor, Hook Me Up peaked at number two on the ARIA album charts and reached platinum status. Around this same time the Origliasso twins also launched their own clothing line, called The Veronicas for Target, which was available only in Australian Target stores. They also appeared in the advertising for Choice Calvin Klein, a denim, swimwear, and lingerie brand aimed at women under 25.
For the Record …
Born on December 25, 1984, in Brisbane, Australia.
Began performing together as teens under the stage name "Lisa and Jessica"; later called themselves The Teal, then The Veronicas; appeared on the Australian children's television series Cybergirl, 2001; signed with the music publishing firm Bell Hughes Music Group (BHMG), 2004; song "All About Us" recorded by t.A.T.u., 2005; signed by Warner Bros./Sire America, 2005; released debut LP, The Secret Life of…, in Australia, 2005, and the United States, 2006.
Awards: ARIA Award for Best Pop Release, Australian Recording Industry Association, for The Secret Life of…, 2006.
Addresses: Manager—David Sonenberg, DAS Communications, DAS Communications Ltd., 83 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10024.
The Veronicas are proud of the fact that they have genuine musical training, and early in their career sometimes brought an acoustic guitar along to promotional events to play one of their songs, in part as a rebuke to critics who claimed the duo were merely a packaged pop act. The onslaught of attention that came from their musical success might have been unnerving at first, but the Origliassos claim that being twins keeps them grounded, with Jessica telling Sams that Lisa represents "someone there who understands what you're going through. … I can see how if you were a solo act and you just had people at you all the time, from all directions, it would be kind of hard to know what reality is."
The Secret Life of…, Warner Bros., 2005.
Hook Me Up, Warner Bros., 2007.
"4ever," Warner Bros., 2005.
"Everything I'm Not," Warner Bros., 2005.
"When It All Falls Apart," Warner Bros., 2006.
"Revolution," Warner Bros., 2006.
"Leave Me Alone," Warner Bros., 2006.
"Hook Me Up," Warner Bros., 2007.
"Untouched," Warner Bros., 2007.
Billboard, March 4, 2006, p. 46.
New York Post, February 16, 2006, p. 53.
New York Times, September 4, 2005.
Sydney Morning Herald, September 18, 2006.
Virginian Pilot, February 23, 2006, p. E1.
Wireless News, November 28, 2005.
WWD, August 29, 2005, p. 4.
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