Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 09:33 UK

The Veronicas: Pop bites back

By Mark Savage
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

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Australian pop duo The Veronicas perform their latest single, Untouched. Clip courtesy of Sire records.

It's the distinctly un-rock 'n roll hour of 7pm and Australian pop group The Veronicas are strolling onto the stage in London.

The sibling duo, a huge top 40 act in their home country, are here to play what is known as an industry showcase - possibly the worst way to experience live music ever invented.

The invited audience is made up of journalists, bloggers and "important" music business suits - all of whom are too busy maintaining an air of professional detachment to do anything like clap, sing along or unfold their arms.

Luckily, The Veronicas are old pros at this game (they fill arenas back at home) and eventually manage to cajole some of those creaky, cynical old limbs into something approximating movement.

The Veronicas
The band took their name from cult High School movie Heathers

It's not just the songs - a sort of electro goth pop - that win the crowd over, but the sisters' quirky, sassy stage presence.

Jessica, a peppy blonde, slings a guitar over an "I hate your band" t-shirt; while her twin, Lisa, wears a pair of fishnets which, it later transpires, were inspired by the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

In between songs, they joke about being "vengeful bitches" and offer to marry an audience member "just for the passport".

"We just love being on stage," Jess explains the following day, while nursing a Zac Efron-assisted hangover.

"Those industry things are always a little awkward but we were lucky - there was a little bunch of fans right down at the front, which created a really cool vibe."

Melodrama

She agrees that newcomers might be taken aback by the full-on rock assault of the group's live show.

"I think when people get told about our band it's like, 'oh, they're twin sisters from Australia - it's gimmicky, it's pop,'" she says.

"Once they see us on stage they think, 'wow, they actually believe what they're singing.'"

We're quite laid back unless someone pushes our buttons. Then we can be... the opposite
Lisa Origliasso, The Veronicas

The Veronicas pour visceral melodrama into their lyrics - channelling Stephanie Meyer's Twilight novels as they relate the intense emotions of a teenage love affair.

And the "vengeful bitches" comment? Well, Lisa has written a song about her ex-boyfriend and called it Revenge Is Sweeter (Than You Ever Were). Ouch.

"We were deliberately trying to be over-dramatic on this album," smiles the singer.

"Break-ups always feel so dramatic at the time," Jess agrees. "It's the end of the world. How can I feel this bad?

"The funny thing is that we love being in love. I fall in love like eight times a day. It's just that heartache comes out a lot more, lyrically, than love songs."

'We're nuts'

The Veronicas in concert
The Veronicas' live show is surprisingly raucous for a pop act

In person, the 24-year-old Origliasso twins are nowhere near as angst-ridden as their music would suggest.

They reminisce happily about their hometown, Brisbane; the hippy beach community in Byron Bay where they spent their summers; and the Aussie rock bands they grew up with - Skyhawks, Rose Tattoo and INXS.

These days, of course, their own albums are multi-platinum sellers at home, and the duo recently scored their first top 20 single in the US - where one magazine dubbed them "Australia's rockingest twins".

Born on Christmas Day, 1984, to Sicilian-Australian parents, the girls were surrounded by music from an early age. Father Joseph was in a band, while mother Colleen "was always taking us to musicals".

They fell in love with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar - thanks to an all-star cast that included John Farnham as Jesus and Angry Anderson as King Herod - and embarked on a brief spell of "fun, not hardcore" stage school training.

"The first song we performed in public," recalls Lisa, "was I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts... and now we do."

At this ridiculous innuendo, the pair fall about laughing.

The Veronicas
Lisa (left) and Jessica (right) now live in Hollywood, California

"Our friends think we're nuts," admits Lisa. She and her sister have a huge repertoire of in-jokes and spend the day "messaging stupid stuff to each other on Facebook" - even when they're in the same room.

After 18 months on the road, however, they're not always the best of friends.

"We're quite laid back unless someone pushes our buttons," says Lisa. "Then we can be... the opposite.

"But we could be having World War 15 and as soon as someone has a go at Jess, I've got her back."

"Never intervene in a fight," Jess agrees. "Never."

The band's manager simply sighs and rolls his eyes.

In fairness, it can't be easy looking after these two feisty young women - especially when Jessica gets papped kissing female MTV host Ruby Rose, and Twitters that she has "woken up with one swollen eye" before meeting journalists.

But The Veronicas' raucous joie de vivre sets them miles apart from the robotic army of media-trained Britney wannabes, and it could just be the making of them.

Or not.

As the group's London showcase ends, a producer from evergreen children's programme Blue Peter approaches us.

"We were going to book them for the show," she confesses "but I think they're a bit too.... erm, edgy."

The Veronicas' single, Untouched, is out this week. Their album, Hook Me Up, follows on 8 June.



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