There's never been an episode of VH1's Behind the Music on Hole, the influential 90s alternative rock band most known for its loose cannon front woman (and Kurt Cobain's widow) Courtney Love. Courtney's Behind the Music aired almost a year ago but made little mention of her former band members' whereabouts, who, we're left to guess, must have abandoned Love at some point if she's half as crazy as she seems on camera and in the tabloids. Her lunacy, however, has always had a fascinating side to it as well, which is probably why she always stole and continues to steal the spotlight.
Enter P. David Ebersol, a film director and confidante of Hole drummer Patty Schemel who, after unearthing Schemel's home videos from the height of Hole's mid-90s success, has put together a more definitive telling of the Hole story (no pun intended). In his film Hit So Hard, which screened at New York City's MOMA last night with all four band members in attendance, we learn that Schemel was the backbone of the band, struggling with addiction and babysitting for Francis Bean Cobain in a number of home movies.
I always loved Hole for both the music and Courtney's antics. I loved a four-piece girl band that always seemed to have a weirdo boy in the group as well (Billy from Bikini Kill, anyone? Gravy Train?) but not being a drummer myself, I never paid much mind to the stone-faced Patty. Which is why I was surprised to learn as much as I did in last night's documentary, including:
1. Patty Schemel is a lesbian! I seriously never knew this. Apparently she came out in Rolling Stone in the 90s but I swear I owned and most certainly read that issue and I had no recollection of this whatsoever.
2. Patty wasn't in the music video for Celebrity Skin...THEY USED A BODY DOUBLE! Weird, right?
3. During the studio sessions for the Celebrity Skin album, Patty was booted by producer Michael Beinhorn in favor of a male drummer who could supposedly perform Patty's parts better (though she was sober at the time). The studio drummer dude was also allegedly uncomfortable performing with women such as bassist Melissa auf der Maur and Courtney herself.
That third point was the big revelation. Courtney and Patty sort of addressed it in the follow-up Q&A, saying maybe they were naive to not realize that studio musicians are brought in all the time to replace band members when recording albums. But the REAL kicker is not only that Beinhorn (who Love referred to as a "nazi") went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Celebrity Skin but that Courtney hired him again (!!!) for her latest album, Nobody's Daughter. Clearly there's more to the band's demise than Schemel's departure, which quickly descended into addiction and life on the streets before getting clean, marrying and having a baby (who also happened to be in attendance).
Perhaps the gays, who made up a bulk of the audience at both the screening and the "Hole" concert I attended last year (Courtney still uses the band name despite the absence of its former members) are really in it for the Courtney show. It's nice to hear Schemel has cleaned up and founded a doggy daycare center in LA but really, at a film ABOUT SCEHEMEL, it was Courtney who turned up an hour late to the screening and made the weird Q&A comment that they wouldn't be reuniting because they're each trying to move forward musically.
Once the Courtney show, always the Courtney show.
PS - I've been awaiting the arrival of this Courtney Love clip on Youtube for quite some time. I remember taping this episode of Superock off of MTV back in the day and marveling at each and every outlandish Courtney moment. "I NEVER HAD A BOOB JOB!"
PPS - Though I didn't ask any questions for the Q&A, I really wanted to hear the band explain how they felt about pulling the original version of Rock Star from Live Through This. Music geek alert.