Courtney Love

Courtney Love
Twelve years after perpetually troubled '90s alt-rock icon Courtney Love shapeshifted from messy grunge goddess to red-carpet ready on the shiny West coast concept album Celebrity Skin, a new Hole record has somewhat unexpectedly emerged. Nobody's Daughter, a personal, emotional purge, lands somewhere smack in the middle of schools old and new; candid and raw, cultivated of course from Love's notoriously traumatic past and recent and ongoing drug, legal and personal tumult, but featuring no former Hole members (the band now consists of Micko Larkin on guitar, Shawn Dailey on bass and Stuart Fisher on drums, while former guitarist/creative partner Eric Erlandson fired against Love for reviving the handle), it was initially started with frequent collaborators Linda Perry and Billy Corgan as Love's sophomore follow-up to her sole solo venture, 2004's America's Sweetheart. She climbed her way out of intensely scrutinized post-widow depths, and for a while, it seemed, came crashing back down. Now somewhere suitably in between, Love ― amidst constant and packed but always-pointed tangents ― says that Nobody's Daughter is, as the bookend of a prolonged era, an inspired start anew.

Hey Courtney, how are you?
Courtney Love: Hey. I'm... aww, Linda Perry's double booked. Fuck. Hold on, I've got to text her something. It's such a good song. I need her to help me write a bridge. I wrote a new song, it's called "Pretty Your Whole Life." I think it's about people like Melissa or this guy I'm friends with, who've always been beautiful. Or Gwyneth or something. Where you're sort of beautiful your whole life, and you don't know what it is to not be pretty.

Melissa who?

Auf der Maur.

I thought that's who you meant.

There's this really cool, sort of, almost... people that have been born beautiful ― I was a really beautiful child, and then I was a really homely adolescent, so it was a dichotomy. I'm actually going through a very similar thing right now. I'm at the Chateau Marmont, and I'm standing here looking at Sunset Boulevard, and the courtyard of the Chateau Marmont is very much a tell, if you will. You can tell your buzz by the kind of ass-kissing that you get down there. It's an epicentre. Last night I went to Malibu and hung out with Billie Joe and Neil Strauss, because they were surfing, and I really want to surf although that's kind of ironic because I hate L.A. and I'm never coming back and I live in New York now for real. But, surfing seems like a wonderful thing and it's related to skiing somewhat and I'd like to learn to do both.
So, I went up there, and the night before I stayed in, because the two nights previous in the courtyard had been so outrageously heavy on me, plus I went to this sort of movie star/A-list party, and, you know, Chateau Marmont is, like... Perez is not allowed in here, so, it's a controlled environment, if you will. So, it's very much like, being 300 pounds, and then losing 120 pounds all of a sudden. You were still you when you were 300 pounds. But the way people are grabbing at me and crocodile smiling at me and kissing my ass ― not the same people that are my friends and stuck with me, but just the current grabbing, and the "hey did you get your lawyer yet?" What? What the hell are you talking about? Or, "hey do you remember me from blahblahblah in 1912?" It's really a strange feeling, and it's like all of a sudden being really beautiful. And it's obviously to do with the record. But it's a strange, strange feeling, and I'm trying to just accept it and go with it and have it be positive, obviously, because it is. It's a nice thing.

And it's the same routine every time you have a new project?

It hasn't happened for 12 years. It happened with Hole for a few years. It was an ascent, a very appropriate and well-timed ascent. And then, unfortunately, the only magazine I ever read was Ms. magazine where I grew up, and then the boarding schools that I was sent to like a criminal, the biggest dose of culture I got was Abba and some Bowie. I really grew up quite sheltered. And then I went to this intensive rock'n'roll high school thing where I had these adventures, but in the adventures, no one ever sexualized me, so, I mean, maybe in my head I had some minor romances with these rock stars, but they generally mentored me in a wonderful way. So I was incredibly lucky to have these extraordinary circumstances.
And I just did an interview with Mojo, it was just a Q&A, which was just wonderful, because it's just, what I have to say. The only bad thing is that I wasn't prepared for the Mojo interview, or I would have been clearer about certain things. And if you read it ― and I have read that, I don't read most of my press but I read the New York Times and, you know, I read Mojo, of course, they're not going to do anything to hurt me ― I talked about Joe Strummer, and I talked about Julian Cope, and I talked about Bono and I talked about Paul MacInnes, and I talked about Ian McCulloch and I talked about Will Sergeant, and I talked about a fellow named Hal Willner, who you may or may not know of. He's been at Saturday Night Live since it started, and he's also a record producer who was also involved in this record, which is awesome. Like, he does all the Marianne stuff, he does a lot of Lou Reed's stuff, he produced the Berlin musical, and he did this thing with Bono and Gavin Friday, and me and Micko [Larkin, Hole guitarist] got to play at Carnegie Hall ― it was a night with Gavin Friday, because for Gavin's 50th birthday, Bono wanted to get him this great present of getting into Carnegie Hall, so it was like Scarlett, and me, and the chick that played Nancy in Sid and Nancy, Chloe Webb, who I have not seen since 1985 or 1986, which was crazy. Lydia Lunch? Woo! She threw a chair and said the "F" word! Ouch! I said ass, but then, I was introducing... Bono came up to me and said, "I want you to introduce the Virgin Prunes," and it took me 20-some years ― 26 years! ― to get to this ten minutes that I had to write this introductory speech that meant so very much to me, and, by the way, not even 24 hours previous me and Micko had done Slash and Friends in Vegas with Slash obviously, and Duff, and Joe Perry, and Rick Neilson from Cheap Trick, and I can't think of any Canadians, I'm sorry, but, so, the giant ice sculptures were still in my head, and Slash's wife is amazing and astonishing and wonderful but she has these huge porno tits, which, you know, to go from like, for Micko, who is now 22, who went from one night, doing that, playing with Joe Perry and all these guys, with strippers in the front with these big boobies ― but they're fake ― and then, to Carnegie hall, which, if I had read the pamphlet, I'd have peed myself. Because Carnegie Hall is just, mecca of culture, and taste, and class, and so Bono, I'm walking down the stairs, and he goes, "Why don't you introduce them?" And I almost peed myself. And I was like, "nooo!" So there's this huge ― not like, Big Day Out or anything, or what you used to have, Edgefest-huge, but you know, huge ― and it's a big deal! It's Carnegie Hall! But, I didn't think about it, because my head was still in Vegas. So, I had eight pages. I cut it down to two. And I went onstage barefoot and introduced the Virgin Prunes.
And strangely, you know, in 1981, I had a little trust fund that gave me $500 a month, and I talked them into letting me go to Ireland. I didn't go to London, I didn't go to New York, and if you had the wanderlust I had and you also had the opportunity to get the hell out of Oregon, you might have gone to New York or London, but I went to Dublin. And it was a really extraordinary event in the sense that I'm just very, very lucky to get this education. Point being, that, when we get to the ass-kissing thing, is, the first time, we have Hole, and this lovely ascent, finally get my shit together, I'm 24, if I don't make it by the time I'm 25 I'm going to jump off a roof, and that's the deal I made with myself, whatever. Finally I've got this band, I've been kicked out of what is now called Babes In Toyland, I come to L.A. and I get this band, and I can't deal with New York, and that nonsense about if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere? Nonsense. New York is easy. L.A. is hard. Especially, Nicole, if you can't drive in L.A.? It's absurd. The only other person I know that can't drive in L.A. is Pat Smear. And he and I were both raised on the same theory, which was, we will have drivers.

And you left L.A., you're living in New York. You're not going back?

No. Oh god no. I've been away for a year and I've avoided it like a rash. I had to come back to deal with some Frances stuff and I have a bunch of stuff to do here like television shows and, you know, things that you do in L.A. Hang on let me see who's texting me. I have a crush on someone, hang on.

You have a crush, huh?

Yeah I have a crush on two people actually. Crushes, huh? They suck.

So the new song you wrote...

It's called "Pretty Your Whole Life." Here, I'll play it for you. It's super simple. It needs a bridge. And I suck. You're either of the school that I shred, which is what Micko thought, or that this is a big wooden necklace, and I can't play at all. [Plays song] Like that. I wasn't playing with a pick. And also that is a cheap-ass Canadian guitar might I add, that was free.

What kind of guitar is it?

It is a Larrivée. And I appreciate the gesture, but you know, it's better on my special guitar but that's in the living room and I can't be arsed to put that by the bed. But you know I have not spent a night without a guitar in my bed pretty much ever.

What, the Larrivée? Or your special guitar?

Any guitar. I read this thing about Keith Richards writing "Satisfaction" in his sleep, based on a dream, and as soon as I read that I was like, "you know what? I need my guitar by my bed." So even if I go somewhere for a sleepover or something, I take my guitar.
[Girl from Island/Def Jam tells us we have three minutes left]

Are we getting cut off?

No, we have three minutes. We'll see how it goes, what your questions are.

Okay, we'll I'd love to talk about the album.

Sure, why don't we try that.

I'd love to know why this is called a Hole record, and not Courtney Love.

Really? That was your first question? Okay, fine...

Well I mean...

No, fine, if that's your first question, that's your first question. This is my theory ― I don't know, I thought you were announcing feminism at some point soon here, just, in favour of femmenismee, f-e-m-m-e-n-i-s-m-e-e. Because I own the name. The name Hole was in effect before Babes in Toyland, in Minneapolis I thought of the name. I've really always liked the name. I had a band called Hole about nine months before Eric Erlandson who was my former partner in Hole before Micko Larkin, and so... it's really as simple a question as why does Trent own Nine Inch Nails. Wow, Nicole, that's your first question, hm! Go on.

I guess I mean, what's the divide? You started this album very much as a Courtney Love album, so, is there no difference? Hole and Courtney are one in the same?

Courtney Love is a thing that I brought out to play shows with. I'm talking to you now, I'm Courtney Michelle, that's my birth name, and Courtney Love is, sort of, it's become a bit of a character. There is definitely a schism between who I am in my private life, just like there is when Philip Seymour Hoffman gets his crazy on and then goes home to his wife and kids. So, I've lived it, and I've been it in a very authentic manner. I wasn't really, in the sense of where actors... I think I'm staring at Matthew McConaughey by the pool right now, which is kind of not the worst thing I've ever seen. Check it out! If you could only see what I'm seeing. But just from the head down. Like...let me just look, hold on. It's totally him, oh my god! Okay. Just, his body's kind of stunning. So, what were we talking about? Sorry, I just got severely distracted by Matthew McConaughey's torso, so...

That's okay. Just how, releasing this album, Hole is different than Courtney...

Well there's a difference between me and Courtney Love, so, definitely Hole which is a band, it's a basic democracy where I am the leader. Micko, we've gone through every single adventure, he also co-produced the record. He did all the vocals, he did all the guitars, he didn't do the big, dashy, black, Beinhorn-esque Beinhorn tracks, but he did all the violins, all the cello, all the backing vocals, he did ― with Dave Sardy ― he did all the mixing, all the mastering, because I'm actually just not a studio rat. Years and years ago, Stevie Nicks said to me, "I wish I knew what I had when I had it." And certainly when an elder of mine says something smart, I listen. So, one of the things about listening to that comment is not wishing I was something else, somewhere else. So, what I'm not, is, I'm not Trent, and I'm not a studio rat. I don't like being in the studio, in fact I kind of hate it.
And my thing has always been ― no, actually, it's a Courtney Love Monster thing ― is, what she can do is she can get on stage and deal with any audience. There isn't an audience in the world that that one can't deal with. So, me, that you're talking to, and it's not like, you know, I'm mentally ill or I have a split personality, it's that, I am 45 years old and I am at a point where there genuinely is a schism between who I am, and the 12 years of bullshit I've had to endure, plus the, oh, what I was going to tell you is that, let's see: Hole had a nice ascent, then alpha-female me met alpha-male Kurt, and all of the sudden, my ass got kicked on this epic crazy level to do with a man, and I really didn't get that memo. To this day it mystifies me. Obviously I know more about it on a cerebral level, but my heart doesn't understand it. So, that happened, and I just hid. Went and had a baby, gestated, just fucking hid. Then he passed away, then I became a widow. And right now, I think I've made my widow record, and I'm really done. I'm done being a widow. Celebrity Skin was 12 years ago and I made a slick, and cool, and definitive concept record, and this is also a concept record, but it's much, much more from the heart, and it's done as a band.
And the reason I threw out the Linda Perry and me record ― because we're a great team ― and I'm taking a song of me and Micko's, and taking it to Linda, because I want to see what she'll do with it because she never runs out of ideas and she always surprises me. She's wonderful, and honourable, and an incredible woman, and a woman of great honour, and of real substance, and a self-empowered woman and I love that. She's also major alpha-female, so we do real well together although we have obviously, like, moments. I tend to be the more submissive one in the relationship because she's so alpha. She's also alpha-alpha, and I can do Omega too. So, anyway, Linda can take a bridge and give me something wonderful, but you know, people are booking time with Linda for tens of thousands to, god knows what, a hundred thousand dollars just to get in there. So for Linda to just see me tonight for nothing is something that she would do out of pleasure rather than out of, obviously I don't have any money to pay her, so there's that. So anyway, Micko, and Shaun, and Stu, and me make up a band. So does that answer your question, Nicole?
Island/Def Jam girl tells us it's the last question]

So if this is your demons-exorcised record and you are done with those parts of your past, how are you moving forward? What'll we see next?
I wanted to start this record as sort of a Blood on the Tracks thing, like as my final record, and bow out with some real class. Because I'm very prodigious, and the problem ― I've done a lot of interviews today, and I guess the part I feel that you're missing is...I don't know. Amicability, to some extent, or understanding me actually... So that's always a big, big problem when I run into that but, hey, it exists, it's like a big wall, it's fine. I think that I wanted to bow out on this record, and now I don't.
So I wanted to make a record about greed, about vengeance, about wrath, about the eight winds ― I'm a Buddhist, I don't know if you know that ― and as a Buddhist, one of the most important principles of my practice is not only that I chant, that I study a lot, and there was guidance today, and it said "Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds." Which are prosperity, decline, disgrace, honour, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure. "They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by the quest." And I love the concept of being so strong internally, and having a human revolution that's so, you know, just, strong, and having such a big life tradition that nothing can really get to me.
As a matter of fact, the last 12 years have been very, very hard, I haven't had anything to protect me; certainly not anyone. And now I have a great infrastructure around me, I have fantastical taste in music, and I have fantastical taste in every note, and I've produced something I'm incredibly proud of. Now having to do interviews and go and tour behind it, I mean, the part that's all crazed and kooked, you know, I'm 5'11" and I got to 102 pounds and was diagnosed with malnourishment during the making of this record, and that's no drugs. I haven't done drugs since '05. My mojo's very much back, and I just texted Billie Joe Armstrong who I just watched play for three and a half hours and light up a Marlboro, and he wasn't even fucking winded. And it was so impressive, and he's such a great mentor. I was trying to tell you that I've been very, very fortunate that I've had great mentors, and if I pass along anything it's that I'm an extraordinarily lucky person, and I've sought out great mentors, and had them. I've also had horrible things happen to me. Horrible, horrible things. Not only have I had a member of my band die that everyone knows about, but I've had 14 members in my band and two others of them have passed away that aren't as well-known. And I've been a widow, and I've had to withstand some real bullshit. So, it's not that I'm smug by any means; I'm very humble. I'm very confident, not arrogant, and there's a big difference between that self-assurance and not being swayed by the eight winds. So, your question, which I've answered in a long and roundabout way, I've made the record I want to make and I stand by this record one-hundred thousand percent and I feel impenetrable and unswayable because of that. And the last thing I'll leave you with is something Tony Robbins once said to me, which is, "great success in this life is being able to handle massive amounts of rejection and turn it into something positive." So, that's that!