Vanessa VeselkaI was born in 1969 in Texas. In case you don't know, Texas is a state where all things poisonous flourish (including Republicans) alongside hot and wet patches of green and near desert stretches. There are four major venomous snakes in North America, all of them can call Texas home. We won't even go into the spider population. It has floods, tornadoes, gales, hurricanes and lightening storms with enough voltage to perm a trailer park. The picture is of a road in Brazos County near my Granddaddy's farm. I moved around a lot as a kid. I lived in Alaska, Washington DC, New Jersey, among other places and moved to New York City at nine, where my family still lives.
My first instrument was the violin. I liked Gypsy and Appalachian fiddle music that horrified my classical, Russian purist teacher. She finally quit on me one day suggesting that if I was going to "play like that" I might as well "take up some useless instrument like guitar." I did. I have been playing guitar since I was about fourteen or fifteen.
When I was fifteen I left home and hitchhiked around the country, living under a variety of bridges and holding various strange and transient jobs. I dug ditches, sold flowers on the freeways etc.. I also started writing. I wrote hundreds of atrocious songs, all about ME. And MY pain. It's amazing how much you can write when quality doesn't count.
A lot happened between then and now which is far too sordid a spread to lay before you. Suffice to say that I lived in Europe for a while, where I got turned on to all kinds of music, like--Nick Cave, Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Fugazi, Rollin's Band, Sonic Youth, Spaceman 3—that I hadn't heard before. Up until then I was listening to stuff like Exile on Main Street, Quadrophenia, and Abbey Road.
I was in my first band in Europe. We were called The Remnant, this was a while ago, now there's another band called that. Anyway, we were terminally unrehearsed, but nothing that volume couldn't cure. I played a Marshall, set the pre-amp to ten and then turned up as loud as they would let me. Which probably explains why the finer points of guitar tone have always escaped me. But I loved it. Nothing quite like your first band. Da da da. We had fun, got to do a lot of cool shows, and were never embarrassed because we sounded good in our heads.
I formed Bell with Andy in 1994 a couple of years after I got back from Europe. Bell was the most focused, straight, songwriting kind a thang I'd done. And it was/is through Bell that I have tried to reconcile my equal love for raw, messy emotionalism and pop melody. Still working on that. And for the Playboy bunny interview I'll never do: I'm into Russian Lit and Paleontology. One of my favorite books actually is War and Peace, which makes me sound pompous and grandiose at parties. And I have a bad habit of getting passionately argumentative and making long-winded speeches about history when nobody cares.
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