Why The Veronicas stopped speaking to each other
THEY shared a womb and have rarely been far from one another's side during their 34 years. And 2019 marks the 15th anniversary of twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso sharing a band known as The Veronicas.
But just two years ago, the band's future was in doubt, as the two were dangerously estranged for the first time. It is a highly complicated and painful story, and one they still find difficult to process, let alone discuss.
There are also layers of restrictions, imposed by themselves (for reasons of self-preservation and privacy) and their lawyers, ones they must negotiate before answering any questions posed during an expansive, cathartic and at times highly charged hour-long chat with Stellar in their hometown of Brisbane.
The cracks began to form in 2016, when Jessica reconnected with her former girlfriend Ruby Rose. When they first dated in 2008, Jessica was the bigger star, Rose a hustler crossing over from modelling into TV presenting work.
By 2016 Rose had achieved global success thanks to an acting gig on Orange Is The New Black, and the pair had re-entered each other's orbits.
Rose agreed to write and direct the video for The Veronicas' single 'On Your Side'; Jessica admitted the clip literally captures them falling back in love.
But behind the scenes sources suggest Rose was driving a wedge between the sisters, with nasty social media posts by all parties adding to the speculation.
By late 2017, Rose and Jessica had split again - and when a planned fourth Veronicas album hadn't materialised by November that year, the sisters told fans it was on hold "due to personal circumstances out of our control".
Those circumstances went far beyond a relationship gone sour. After years of being misdiagnosed, the twins' mother Colleen was told she had both Lewy body dementia and progressive supranuclear palsy.
"She has two neurological diseases," Jessica tells Stellar. "There's two things going on; one on a physical level, one on a mind level. It's devastating to watch."
And just as they coped with the pain of watching their mother confront two illnesses - they've since become ambassadors for Dementia Australia - they were dealing with yet another time-consuming battle that involved Rose, much of which played out online and in full view of their combined 22.7 million followers.
Last November, Jessica posted a photo of herself and her new partner, musician Kai Carlton; in reply, Rose wrote "Congratulations! So happy for you both!"
Jessica called her out, claiming she had asked Rose not to contact her for months and accusing her ex of "continued harassment".
The following month, it was Lisa who spoke up. On Instagram, she shared a photo of an obscene gag gift and note she'd received in the mail not long after her November 4 wedding to US actor Logan Huffman.
She never mentioned names and it is not suggested the gift was from, or the post directed at, Rose.
Lisa soon removed the post, which she claimed was meant to "disempower the person who has continued to torment me and my family for the past two years... From floods of abuse via texts, emails, a shocking amount of fake social media accounts having the same unprovoked episodic tirade of abuse, created purely to leave hate, spread lies about me, and defame my character and name.
"I won't be compliant in silence anymore. The person knows time is up. They have taken protection in their celebrity and social platform for long enough."
Jessica beams when Lisa's post is mentioned, and explains it was part of their aim to call out bad behaviour online in order to help others.
"I am so proud of how strong we've been," she says. "To get to a point where you have to call that out has been overwhelming and shocking. We have tried to handle ourselves as gracefully as possible. Nobody should feel like they can force themselves into your life how it suits them when it's toxic and unwanted.
"Boundaries are so important. Unfortunately that's been something we've been dealing with - personally, behind the scenes, and online quite publicly - for some time. Especially if you're dealing with anybody in a position of power who has a profile... it's the climate for saying no, enough is enough."
Indeed, the twins have watched with delight as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have unfurled over the past 16 months.
"It's an incredible platform to empower people," says Jessica. "The protection that people of status have in society is confronting. Incredibly confronting. For that conversation to be happening on a large international scale now is only positive. I think it's fantastic."
Asked if they have their own stories, she responds simply, "Too many stories."
Lisa chimes in. "We haven't told them. They're from early in our careers," to which Jessica adds, "We were young. It's terrifying to think about that."
Lisa mentions her husband. "My partner, too - he was young when he came to LA. He's got stories, too. It really needs to be cleaned up."
Jessica agrees: "That level of visibility is integral to our progression as a society, reframing where the focus really needs to be. Not holding or feeling shame, that's the biggest thing.
"On some level everybody [gets] made to think in silence, protecting other people's reputation by sacrificing yourself. And I learnt that lesson hard recently."
It has been more than four years since The Veronicas released their self-titled third album; since then, there have been collaborations with Tina Arena (on a re-release of 'Chains') and a couple of one-off singles, including 2016's 'In My Blood', which became their third number-one hit on the ARIA charts.
This year, they say, the pair will release their long-gestating next album. In the meantime, they have a new single, 'Think Of Me', which is classic Veronicas - a killer pop song.
It is also a relationship post-mortem - "I underestimated how complicated you are/I don't miss being hated/I don't miss fighting your war" - they know many will assume is about Rose.
But Jessica explains, "I'm not here to air my dirty laundry. I just wrote as authentically as I could. It's a song about the end of a toxic relationship, about taking back your power. If I pulled from experience it's definitely a fun version of the reality, which [was often] far more serious."
Another new song called 'Without You' is also brutally personal, but it ends with Jessica playing survivor rather than victim.
"I let someone else define me," she says. "That's wild. People would probably consider me a strong person who is sure of themselves, but when you're in love with and put your trust into someone, you want to hope they're reflecting back something that is only going to help support you, not bring you down.
"That's been a really hard lesson," she adds. "But it's good to know anybody can come out of that and be stronger. It can happen. It's been a lot of work, a lot of work, but I know who I am - I'm proud to live it every day now."
She grows emotional as she talks about the rift that developed between her and Lisa.
"It's hard to comprehend. I still cannot understand it. There's no way of explaining it. I was watching baby videos our dad brought over the other day of Lise and I. We were so connected, so close. For that to be a threat to anybody has been one of the hardest things for me to understand."
Lisa admits while the pair were apart, she threw herself into writing songs, as she always has, "with no intention of anyone else hearing it. Music has always been my therapy. Thank God I have it. I didn't really have Jessie around so much. It was tough."
Jessica says her new relationship with Carlton is one she will live much less publicly than the stormy one at the centre of the past few years.
"My partner has been the most patient, passionate, grounding person for me," she says. "Kai was starting a degree in medicine, both parents were doctors; Kai's put that on hold to pursue music. I feel extremely blessed."
Lisa approves of the union. "All I've ever wanted is to see Jess happy and treated the way she deserves to be treated, which is with respect and love. So I like Kai."
Of her own marriage to Huffman, which took place in Queensland last November, she calls it "the best decision I ever made. Being the control freak that I am, I was across every detail. Anyone that wants a wedding planner, I am a pro now, the woman to come to!"
And yet, she explains, "I wasn't one of those girls" who had long mapped out how her dream wedding would roll out.
"For a very long time, maybe because I felt I was born into this world with my soulmate, I didn't think I would get married. Then he came along and all of a sudden I started dreaming about a future. He was brave enough to not deal with just me, [because] we're a two-for-one deal. And a lot came with me at that time.
"This poor man was taking the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is definitely my rock. It was a small wedding, less than 50 people. It was perfect."
Jessica, the chief maid of honour, also became something of a bridezilla on the day. "I didn't know I had that in me," she now admits. "Lisa was the vision of grace and patience and I was hyperventilating and screaming at people. I don't think I was sad the twinnie was getting married; I just wanted to make sure it was the best day of her life."
When they aren't living together in Brisbane near their mother, Lisa lives in the US on an "urban farm" with Huffman.
"We're a weird little family," she says. "He's doing his acting, he's doing some landscaping now. He's a jack of all trades. And he's really hot. I'm the luckiest woman in the world. I said that in my wedding vows. He's a triplet, so he understands this complicated situation we've all been born into. To love me is to love her."
"Poor guy," says Jessica. "I apologise to him every day."
Over the past few months, the sisters have pushed the reset button on their career. They have new management and signed a new publishing deal, and there's talk of a vegan make-up line as well as a concert for their beloved Sea Shepherd marine conservation society.
They're also in negotiations with MTV to create a television show to help launch their upcoming album internationally and tap back into their worldwide fan base.
As well as working with a string of A-list writers and producers in Australia and the US, they've embraced a new generation of local indie performers such as Brisbane's Mallrat and Adelaide rapper Allday, who will appear on their new album.
On January 1, Mallrat performed at Sydney's Field Day and brought the duo onstage; the mainly young audience promptly lost their minds as they played 2007's 'Untouched', which remains the biggest global hit of their career.
And many of the younger female acts they've worked with have cited them as an influence.
"It's humbling," says Lisa. "There's a new generation embracing their full authentic selves. I guess it's moved from a marketing/record company way of looking at music to artists who are fearless.
"We've always approached music like that; maybe we were one of the few back then who had that sense of self. Nowadays a lot of young acts are like that and it's inspiring. They're doing it their way."
The twins hope to have their new album out by mid-year, but more than anything they are just happy to be working together again.
"The last year and a half was very difficult for us," admits Jessica. "There was a lot going on that separated us. To be able to heal through our music and create again... it's what we live for and it's how we bond. It's been so inspiring."
And their biggest fan of all could not be happier.
"Mum has been like, 'Where's the new music, girls? Get to it!'", says Lisa.
"So we've been like, 'Damn! Colleen wants some new music. We'd better get back into the studio.' Truly, she has been the catalyst for this album. She is resilient and strong, and she is our absolute hero."
The Veronicas' single 'Think Of Me' will be released next month.