Already massive pop stars in their native Australia, 24-year-old twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso, known as The Veronicas, spent most of 2008 winning over legions of new fans while on the road with Natasha Bedingfield, Hanson, and the Jonas Brothers in support of their red-hot second album Hook Me Up.
Clearly, all their hard work has paid off. “Untouched,” the first single from the electro-rock sizzler Hook Me Up, which was released by Sire Records in August 2008, is currently No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and shows no signs of slowing down. The eye-popping video debuted at No. 10 on TRL’s Top 10 Video Countdown in July, and landed the girls a performance slot on the show, as well as an “Incoming Artist” feature on the Fuse Network in August. In October, the girls launched their first-ever web series, entitled Untouched, exclusively on their Yahoo! Music web channel. The weekly series chronicles Lisa and Jessica’s journey to stardom in the U.S. and gives viewers an inside look into how they became superstars Down Under, where Hook Me Up has gone triple-platinum and spawned two Top 5 singles, including their first No. 1 for the title track. All the activity has led to “Untouched” video racking up more than 4.6 million views on YouTube and more than 8 million views for all their video clips combined, while the “Untouched” audio track posted on their MySpace page has attracted more than 11 million plays.
With its expert songcraft, killer harmonies, and sassy confidence, Hook Me Up is a powerful step up from The Veronicas’ debut album, The Secret Life Of … which sold more than 300,000 copies in Australia, spawned three of their five Top 10 singles, and won a slew of awards (including a coveted ARIA), making the girls international stars. While The Veronicas showed their talent for writing catchy pop-rock tunes on The Secret Life Of… (which Teen Vogue called “both sweet and vicious”), the girls go into hyperdrive on Hook Me Up by exchanging the debut’s pop-punk stylings for a dynamically unrestrained electro-beat.
“It’s been more than two years since we wrote the first record, so our musical tastes have changed a bit,” Lisa says. “We’ve been living in Los Angeles where we got into the whole electro-pop rock scene. When it came time to write the album, we were really inspired to go in a new direction.”
“We didn’t want to make a record that was the same as the first,” Jessica adds. “We definitely wanted to create a different sound for ourselves and reinvent The Veronicas. A lot has changed in our lives over the past two years. And we’ve changed quite a bit personally, so we had a lot to say.”
Recorded mainly at Lisa and Jessica’s Hollywood Hills home, Hook Me Up finds the girls collaborating with a host of top-notch hitmakers, including Shelly Peiken (Christina Aguilera), Greg Wells (Mika), John Feldmann (The Used, Good Charlotte), and the legendary Billy Steinberg (Madonna). Most of the songs, however, were written with their long-time collaborator Toby Gad, who contributed three tracks to The Secret Life Of…. Each day Gad, who wrote co-wrote Beyoncé’s “If I Were A Boy” and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” would drive over to the girls’ townhouse, where he’d set up a makeshift studio. “With Toby, we’d gossip and tell him all the drama in our lives,” Lisa says with a laugh. Adds Jessica: “That’s why a lot of the songs we wrote with him come across as emotional and dramatic. I’d have to say this record is even more personal than the first one, which was hard because the first record was very much us.”
Their collaboration resulted in eight tracks, from the dramatic “Untouched,” to such razor-edged epics as the impassioned “This Is How It Feels” and the heated “Revenge Is Sweeter,” to the raunchy “Take Me on The Floor” and the brash “Popular.” “It’s a very beat-driven dance record, though The Veronicas always throw in a few ballads,” Jessica says. “We’re proud of the record. It came out exactly how we wanted it to. We’re stoked.”
Hook Me Up is the beginning of a new chapter in The Veronicas’ stateside career. The Secret Life Of… was released by Sire Records in February 2006 and debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. Named a “Breaker Artist” by AOL and called “Australia’s rockingest twins” by Blender, the girls were also praised by Entertainment Weekly for making “most of their female pop-rock rivals seem like jugheads.” Indeed, critics agreed that The Veronicas were “the real thing” (as the New York Post put it). Having performed together since they were five, Lisa and Jessica, who hail from Brisbane, were primed for the fuss that was to follow, including being selected to appear in a Fall 2005 promotional campaign for Choice Calvin Klein and being feted by Teen Vogue and Jane magazine. They were also chosen to sing the title song for the WB show Related and appeared as themselves in an episode that aired in February 2006. In March, the album’s first single “4Ever” was featured in the Amanda Bynes comedy She’s the Man, as well as on the soundtrack.
“These last few years have been crazy,” Lisa says. “We recorded two amazing records, toured the world with our bad-ass band, and had a taste of superstardom in Australia. We actually have our own clothing line, can you believe that? Now it’s time to really turn up the heat. And are we ever looking forward to it!”