Patty Schemel is starring in "Hit So Hard," a documentary about her life
Schemel is the former drummer for the band Hole with Courtney Love
Schemel: Courtney Love "is extremely smart and also angry and had her demons"
Patty Schemel, the former drummer for the Courtney Love-fronted band Hole, is starring in the upcoming documentary “Hit So Hard.”
The film examines Schemel’s roots, her rise to fame with Hole and her drug addiction. Schemel spoke to CNN about “Hit So Hard,” her relationship with Love and Kurt Cobain, and her thoughts on women in the music industry today.
CNN: “Hit So Hard” highlights the time in your life when you were a member of Hole during the peak period of the grunge rock era. Have you been in touch with your former band mates since you left Hole in 1998? Were you in contact with them during the course of filming?
Patty Schemel: I kept in contact with Courtney (Love) over the years, I knew where she was at with that. Seeing the first edit of the documentary and how (Hole band mates) explained that time was pretty much the first time I got to know what their feelings were. Brought us all back together in a way. Just me reaching out to say “thank you” for doing the interview and to sort of talk about that.
And then we all met together at the New Directors New Films film festival at MoMA (New York’s Museum of Modern Art) last year. First time we were all together. So much around at that time because I had not been in the same room together with them since I walked out of the studio (13 years ago, recording the “Celebrity Skin” album). Nothing had changed in terms of waiting for Courtney, and that was the situation that night. Good to see everyone, good to stand together. Eric (Erlandson) and Courtney gifted us with the publishing of the music for the documentary; we could not have made it without that music.
CNN: How would you describe your relationship with Love and the other band members?
Schemel: We were still distant. I was not really in touch with everyone.
In the process of the film, when we started shooting, I was still unsure as to whether I wanted to do the film. And then over time, things started to change. The more recovery I got, the less those sort of resentments were intense. Things started to dissolve towards everyone.
[Love’s] always been honest – she was the one in the situation with “Celebrity Skin” and me being replaced with the studio guy. She was the one who did not surprise me – she is honest about everything. And Eric and Melissa were the ones where I was like, “what?” I know her, and she is who she is, and I accept her exactly the way she is.
With Eric (Erlandson), I have always enjoyed playing music with him and Melissa (Auf der Maur) as well. At the time they talk about their feelings about what happened – and Melissa said she was concerned about her bass parts and what she was going to do. We became this business that was swallowed by the machine. What we started out as is so different from what we became. We were feminists, we had these things to say, then it became the opposite result. In my mind, I felt a bit of naiveté in going along with it – we’re going there, we’re doing it. Seeds were planted.
CNN: What was it like to be in a band with Love, someone who Rolling Stone described as “the most controversial woman in rock history”?
Schemel: She is extremely smart and also angry and had her demons. She pretty much released it all on stage, and a lot of people related to that, and kids related to that, and women related to that.
I wish I could tell everyone to “f” off like she does. That’s what she meant to a lot of people. Also, this sort of fearlessness.
CNN: Everyone thinks of Courtney Love when they think of Hole. But your peers say you were really the force behind the band. Did you even know that at the time?
Schemel: No. Individually, I had my own thing going, my own demons to exorcise – a girl, a drummer, all these things from my youth. I’m gay – there was anger during that time for me. I made my way to punk rock – I found that there are other freaks and weirdos like me. I wanted to prove myself as a drummer and as a female musician to my band and to the rest of the world.
CNN: You had a very close relationship with Kurt Cobain, and the film features some personal scenes between you and him. What is the most important thing you would want people to know about him after all this time?
Schemel: In outing that footage, it was a lot. He and I were friends before I joined Hole. He was a special person. He introduced me to Courtney to play in Hole. In the footage, he was the guy who loves his baby and his wife. And that’s what I wanted to show – just that. Not anything else.
CNN: What do you want people to learn from “Hit So Hard”?
Schemel: With the film, I like the dialogue it starts about addiction. There’s always a good dialogue with the audience about addiction – what it is, and, is that why I started using drugs, because i was in Hole? I have something inside my DNA that makes me choose drugs as a solution instead of anything else. Also, the fact that it does get better, to quote that phrase. It does. I found my way being a gay woman and eventually got married and had a baby. I feel so grateful to play music for a living, but eventually found more about me than just doing that.
I’m not just a drummer, I am a lot more than that.
CNN: What are your thoughts on women in music, especially in the rock genres, today? Who do you look up to? And who do you think are the “ones to watch”?
Schemel: I really like “Tegan and Sara” as songwriters. What they do is great. Their music is amazing, and they write their songs. Neko Case, she is an amazing singer and songwriter. There’s a band called, Best Coast. Those are my favorites right now.
CNN: What are some of your favorite bands? And what are the top albums that rock your world?
Schemel: “Led Zeppelin III” was a huge one, and “Physical Graffiti” is another great one. The soundtrack of my life during the ’90s is My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless.” Anything by Yo La Tengo. Beatles’ “Revolver” – huge. “Minor Threat” – so important.
CNN: What is a unique or surprising fact that most people do not know about you?
Schemel: I enjoy napping a lot – naps are important. I just got excited about reading, and I’m 44. I love reading (laughs).