Arts Desk

Courtney Love: “I Wasn’t Allowed to Be Part of Grunge”

In the early 1990s, I bought Hole's record Pretty on the Inside because I thought the band, which formed in Los Angeles, was from Seattle. Twenty years later, I talked to Courtney Love, who is on tour and playing the Fillmore this Saturday, for 16 minutes and tried to type as fast as she spoke. Here is some of what we said.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Washington City Paper: Where are you?

Courtney Love: I’m in Philadelphia in a giant concert room of Clear Channel, looking at some greenery, drinking a Diet Coke.

WCP: That's a bad thing to do in Philadelphia before noon.

CL: I was woken up at 4. The radio show supposed to be at 5:30, but it isn’t even a radio show—they aren’t going to play anything and I'm not playing anything new, not playing anything old, and I'm not playing covers. If you can’t trust me to be amusing—

WCP: Why can't you play anything new?

CL: The tour was about a single—my book comes out at Christmas, and I wanted to use the time to put out single... I've recorded 12 songs, and whittled it down to five which are like excellent. I’m really a perfectionist.

There's only been like four alternative rock albums that have done anything in the past year: Queen[s of the Stone Age]; Vampire Weekend—I don't know what they do; Fall Out Boy, they're cute nice kids, they asked me to sing on their record, it couldn’t hurt, and it didn’t. There’s a giant cloud of hip-hop and rap made of crystals and Gucci and Benzi [?] and Yeezus... It’s not going away. It’s good because we rockers don’t make as much money as we used to at all... It sorts out the wheat from the chaff.

WCP: You played a very poorly reviewed show in D.C. in 2010. Any comment?

CL: Yeah, it was one of my two bad reviews. I don’t know... I remember that night not being my best, but I didn’t deserve what I heard. I don’t really read the good ones, why would I read the bad ones? Apparently that one was horrific...

I remember getting off stage and thinking it was a bad show... It was too long, and I talked too much. My kid yesterday got really depressed because she read the comments on something. I was like, "I thought you stopped doing that when you were 14." We are made of sterner stuff... It's just water off a duck's back. I don’t care.

WCP: You guys are in touch? [Love lost custody of her daughter, Francis Bean Cobain, in 2009.]

CL: We talk. Not every day. She’s gonna be 21 in August. We talk as much as a 21-year-old and her mom would talk.

WCP: You were part of a major force in popular music 20 years ago: grunge. Do you think anything has replaced it?

CL: I wasn’t allowed to be part of grunge. Soundgarden, Mudhoney ... I was so marginalized. I was like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. ... We were never part of that stuff. We were never grunge. ... It’s only in revising history that people are saying that. ...

I always wanted to be in that boys' club that was grunge. I never was. Thurston Moore called my band, Babes in Toyland, and L7 "foxcore," but it never caught on.

We were on our own. That is history. That is an accurate historical fact.

WCP: What about riot grrl?

CL: Kathleen [Hanna] and all those chicks—they can’t stand me. The grudges have died down, but back then they couldn’t stand me and I couldn’t stand them. I’m not a joiner. I’m a loner. ...

WCP: What's next?

CL: I'm going to finish the book for Christmas.

WCP: What's the title?

CL: The only one I can think of is very vulgar. The working title is Last Bitch Standing. …

I sometimes feel like I’m the last one standing. I went to the doctor last week. My liver panel was above average, my lung panel was above average, my hormone panel was above average. The Rolling Stones are playing shows here for $600 a ticket. I kinda want to get on stage with Keith Richards and pull his liver. ...

You kinda gotta be a machine in this business physically. You got to be made of strong stuff. I’m pretty sensitive, but I'm fast—like a jungle cat.

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