The greatest living lineup of Courtney Love’s ever-evolving rock band Hole was seen in public together for the first time in 13 years last night, but they weren’t announcing any future plans to play together. Instead, Love, Melissa auf der Maur, and Eric Erlandson were rallying around their estranged drummer Patty Schemel at the premiere of P. David Ebersole’s documentary about her life, Hit So Hard, which screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Much of the footage in Hit So Hard was shot by Schemel on her own personal video camera in the’90s when she was playing with Hole and living with Love, Kurt Cobain, and their daughter Frances Bean. These segments are startlingly intimate, depicting a young family full of talent and vitality. And they also reveal Schemel to be such a formidable force behind the drum kit that Love and Cobain actually both wanted her to back them up, prompting Love to confess on film, “Patty was very nearly in Nirvana.” But Hole was where Schemel stayed. And though she weathered the tragic storms of Cobain’s suicide and the death-by-overdose of Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff in 1994 with considerable amounts of drugs, her habit didn’t reach a crisis stage until 1997. That was the year Love unceremoniously replaced Schemel with a session drummer at the urging of their producer during the recording of Hole’s Celebrity Skin album. Humiliated and demoralized, Schemel quit the band, sank deeply into depression and crack addiction, and eventually found herself out on the street.
Thanks to an 11th hour rehab rescue and a dedicated commitment to sober living, Schemel’s story doesn’t end like Cobain and Pfaff’s. But her journey was so harrowing, her band mates looked shell-shocked and more than a bit uncomfortable when they joined Schemel and Ebersole on stage for a Q&A after the screening. When the inevitable questions about a Hole reunion surfaced, Erlandson made some awkward wisecrack about the foursome “scheduling a garden party to plant some pea shoots,” and Love stiffly riffed on how “If something’s not relevant, I don’t want to do it.” But ultimately it was bassist Melissa auf der Maur who cut right to the heart of the matter by stating simply, “The only reason I came to this movie theater is Patty Schemel is alive.” [Emily Rems]
Emily Rems is a feminist writer, editor, rock star, playwright, and occasional plus-size model living in New York’s East Village. Best known as managing editor of BUST magazine, Emily is also a music and film commentator for New York’s NPR affiliate WNYC, and is the drummer for the horror-punk band the Grasshoppers. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the anthologies Cassette from my Ex and Zinester’s Guide to NYC, and her short stories have been published in Rum Punch Press, Lumen, Prose ‘N Cons Mystery Magazine, Writing Raw, and PoemMemoirStory. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for fiction in 2015 and is working on a novel. Follow her on Twitter @emilyrems.