Hole was a Grammy-nominated American alternative rock band that formed in Los Angeles in 1989 and disbanded in 2002. The band was fronted by vocalist/rhythm guitarist Courtney Love, who co-founded Hole with songwriter/lead guitarist Eric Erlandson. Hole achieved moderate commercial success. Their second album, Live Through This, was critically acclaimed and regarded as one of the greatest albums of the 1990s, as well as their most notable work.
Hole's style of alternative rock was initially influenced heavily by punk rock, no wave and noise rock, though as they progressed they began to incorporate elements of grunge and pop rock into their sound. Hole were reported to have been reforming in 2009, however, due to a contract signed in 2002 by Love and Erlandson, no reunion can take place without mutual involvement. An acrimonious argument between Love and Erlandson about the use of the name has been reported.
Hole released three official albums before their split, Pretty on the Inside, Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, each of which reflect a distinctive and progressive sound and approach. The band's first release, "Pretty on the Inside" was a no wave, noise rock and punk-influenced record, experimenting with alternate tunings. The band's second release, the critically-acclaimed, "Live Through This" showcased a more power-pop, and grunge-influenced approach, still infused with a punk rock sound. The band's third and final release, "Celebrity Skin" was prominently powerpop and pop-influenced. Hole also released a number of EP's during their career.
Hole also experienced a number of line-up changes for each album. Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson were the only constant members throughout the group's career. "Pretty on the Inside" was recorded with original drummer Caroline Rue and bassist Jill Emery, both of which left the band in 1992, to be replaced by Patty Schemel and Kristen Pfaff, respectively. This new line-up recorded "Live Through This". Seattle musician Leslie Hardy was also a touring member for a short time, however did not contribute to any studio work, despite some reports. After Pfaff's death in 1994, Melissa Auf der Maur was recruited as bassist. Prior to the recording of "Celebrity Skin", Schemel left the group for reasons which remain disputed, and was replaced by Samantha Maloney, who left the group after the band's tour in 1999. Auf der Maur also left in late 1999, leaving Love and Erlandson the only two remaining members. After attempts at a fourth album, Love and Erlandson announced the split of Hole less than three years later.
Formation and early years (1989-1994)
Love has joked that she took the name for the band from "my husband's favorite drinking spot", but this claim is dubious since she met Kurt Cobain, her husband, the year after Hole was formed. Love later said that the name came from a conversation she had with her mother, yet has also claimed on numerous occasions that the name was inspired by a quote from Euripides' "Medea".
Hole formed in Los Angeles in August 1989, after Eric Erlandson replied to an advertisement, placed by Courtney Love, in punk rock fanzine, Flipside. The band's first rehearsal took place in Fortress Studios in Hollywood, where Love, Erlandson and original bassist Lisa Roberts "played something noisy" while "they started screaming at the top of their lungs for two or three hours". After this, the band would recruit drummer Caroline Rue, and a third guitarist, Mike Geisbrecht. Hole's first show took place at Raji's - a small club in Hollywood in September 1989. The band played another three shows in California in 1989 before they began to develop a fanbase. Geisbrecht left in 1989 and was replaced by Errol Stewart, who left a few weeks later. Roberts left the group at some point in early 1990.
After Geisbrecht and Roberts' departure, Hole recruited Jill Emery on bass and began recording studio material, as well as touring frequently. After releasing the singles, Retard Girl and Dicknail on Sympathy for the Record Industry and Sub Pop respectively, Hole released their first full-length album Pretty on the Inside - produced by Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon and Gumball musician, Don Fleming - on Caroline Records, which received praise from underground critics, especially in the UK, where the band later done an extensive tour with Daisy Chainsaw and Mudhoney. Hole also toured North America and the rest of Europe in support of the record. After the tour, Rue left the band, followed by Jill Emery in March 1992.
Audio samples of Hole
from Live Through This - This song from Hole's popular second album illustrates Hole's grunge influence as well as Courtney Love's distinctive vocals.
As a result of the album's success and the furious press coverage around Courtney Love and her husband Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana, Hole was signed to Geffen Records with an eight-album contract in late 1992, around the time they recruited Janitor Joe bassist, Kristen Pfaff. After another well-praised tour of Europe and the United States in 1993 - the first leg of which was for promotion of their single, Beautiful Son - Hole began work on their major label debut, "Live Though This" in Triclops Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. The final result included the singles Doll Parts, Violet, Miss World and Softer, Softest. The album went multi-platinum and was hailed "Album of the Year" by Spin magazine. Kurt Cobain is also known to have minorly contributed to the album, however his only audible work is found on the tracks, Asking for It, and "Softer, Softest", however he is known to have contributed backing vocals to a number of songs, including "Doll Parts". Incidentally, Love has reveleaed that the alternate mix of Asking for It featuring Cobain, was planned to be released as a single, however after Cobain's death the idea was scrapped. The extent of Cobain's involvement is unconfirmed.
Almost immediately prior to the album's release, the final song, "Rock Star", was removed from the album and replaced by the outtake "Olympia". It was widely believed at the time that this was because its lyrics, which included the lyrics, "how'd you like to be Nirvana?/so much fun to be Nirvana/barrel of laughs to be Nirvana/say you'd rather die", and appeared inappropriate in the wake of Cobain's suicide in April 1994. However, it was later revealed that the band and the Geffen label had already deemed the track unfitting of a major label debut for Hole, as the song had a very "non-artistic" character which fit poorly with the rest of the album. By the time the decision to remove "Rock Star" was made, the album artwork and various other inserts had already been printed, and since "Olympia" was put in its place, "Olympia" is labelled as "Rock Star" on "Live Through This", and serves as its official title. Live Through This was released on April 12 1994, four days after Cobain's suicide, and two months prior to Kristen Pfaff's death on June 16th, of an apparent overdose. Hole pulled out of the upcoming Lollapalooza festival, which was also going to include Cobain's band, Nirvana.
On September 1, 1994, Hole played their first headlining show since the album's release at the Phoenix Theatre in Toronto, and dedicated it to Kristen, however the band's first show after Cobain and Pfaff's was at the 1994 Reading Festival. The band, now with Melissa Auf der Maur on bass, toured extensively throughout 1994 and 1995, including appearances at KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas, Saturday Night Live, the Big Day Out festival, MTV Unplugged, Lollapalooza 1995 and the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, at which Hole performed "Violet" and were nominated for awards.
Hiatus, and My Body, the Hand Grenade (1995-1997)
Hole were thought to be on hiatus in 1996, due to Love's rising movie career. The band released their first EP, Ask for It in September 1995. After the band's tours in 1995, Hole entered the studio to record a follow-up to "Live Through This". There were multiple attempts to record Hole's third album, and one such attempt was in New Orleans in winter 1995. Interviews with Erlandson have confirmed the authenticity of this session, and the style is thought to have been a transition between the alternative style of "Live Through This" and the band's later pop-influenced sound, however no material from the sessions have surface. It is believed that one result of these sessions was an extremely early version of "Awful". Erlandson has also denied a rumor that what was to be the band's third album had been completed only to have the masters stolen on an airplane.
Despite the reported hiatus and Love's movie career, the band recorded and released a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Gold Dust Woman" for The Crow: City of Angels. This served as the first studio recording with Auf der Maur as bassist. During their supposed hiatus, Hole also released a second EP, The First Session in August 1997, which includes a complete version of the band's first recording session at Rudy's Rising Star in Los Angeles in March 1990, some of which had been bootlegged widely years prior. The band's final release before 1998's "Celebrity Skin" was the compilation album, My Body, the Hand Grenade, which was comprised of early singles, mid-period b-sides and recent live tracks. One outtake from the "Live Through This" recording sessions which was included on this release was the controversial song, "Old Age". The history and writer of this song was the subject of controversy among Courtney Love detractors who believed Kurt Cobain had written Hole's second album, an allegation for which no evidence has ever surfaced. It was eventually learned "Old Age" had been written by Kurt Cobain for the Nevermind sessions in 1991, then given to Hole, whereupon its lyrics were rewritten by Love. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic confirmed that "Old Age" was indeed "a Nirvana song" in an interview with UK music newspaper Melody Maker in 1997. The unfinished Nirvana version was released on the Nirvana box-set With The Lights Out in 2004. Another song on the My Body the Hand Grenade collection was "20 Years in the Dakota", which touches on Yoko Ono's struggles in life as John Lennon's wife, a position which Love herself has been frequently compared to, due to the perception that Ono drew Lennon away from The Beatles and that Love drew Cobain away from Nirvana.
Although Hole as a band did not perform during 1996 and 1997, members of Hole performed separately, including Love's guest appearance at a Smashing Pumpkins' show in February 1996, at which she performed "Silverfuck" and "Farewell and Goodnight", with Smashing Pumpkins' frontman, and former boyfriend, Billy Corgan. Auf der Maur and Schemel also performed a show in Toronto in July 1996. Erlandson also collaborated with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and director Dave Markey in the short-lived project, Rodney & The Tube Tops, with whom he released two singles with.
Celebrity Skin and breakup (1997-2002)
Hole's third and final studio album, Celebrity Skin adopted a complete new sound for the band. Featuring a more pop-orienated sound, the album was a critical success with strong sales and successful singles, including the title track, Celebrity Skin, Malibu, and Awful. Eric Erlandson told Rolling Stone, "I still think a lot of Celebrity Skin is my Johnny Thunders influence coming up ??? which Courtney just fucking hates."
The album was recorded in Conway Studios in Los Angeles throughout 1997, after many "fruitless attempts" in Miami, London and New York. Although Patty Schemel is listed as drummer in the liner notes of the record, she did not actually appear on the record as she had left the band prior to the main recording sessions and was in turn replaced by a session drummer. The studio work took almost a year and a half. According to Erlandson, Courtney was more focused on song-writing and singing and "did not care about her instrument". Eric also noted that Billy Corgan, who co-wrote a large portion of the album, played bass on "Hit So Hard". In reaction to public speculation that Kurt Cobain had written the band's second album, Celebrity Skin's liner notes listed explicitly every musician's contribution to the record, specifying authorship for every song. Love wrote a comprehensive amount of the lyrics, while Erlandson, assistant-producing alongside Michael Beinhorn, had a hand in every song. Co-songwriters on the album also included Melissa Auf der Maur, Patty Schemel, Jordon Zadorozny of Blinker the Star, and Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's, each contributing pieces to a number of songs, however the most notable contributer was Billy Corgan, who co-wrote five of the twelve songs on the album. After the album's release, Hole recruited Samantha Maloney as a touring drummer, who left in 1999.
After a winter tour in 1998 to promote Celebrity Skin, Hole made further appearances at festivals throughout 1999 after an extensive American and European tour. Tragically, on June 18th, 1999 during Hole's set at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden, a 19-year old girl named Sara died after being crushed by the mosh pit behind the mixing board. The band did not comment on her death. Hole played their final show at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver on July 14th, 1999. A few months later, Auf der Maur quit Hole and went on to become a touring bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins. Despite being the only two remaining members of the group, Love and Erlandson still continuted Hole. The band's final release was a single for the movie Any Given Sunday. Be A Man - released in March 2000 - was an outtake from the "Celebrity Skin" sessions, and was another song co-written and included bass-work by Corgan.
Love and Erlandson officially disbanded Hole via a message posted on the band's website in 2002. Their more than decade-long run as a band produced three studio albums that generated sales of 8 million in total. After the split, the four musicians each took on projects of their own. Erlandson continued to work as a producer and session musician, eventually forming the experimental group RRIICCEE with controversial artist, Vincent Gallo and Love began a solo career, releasing her debut, "America's Sweetheart" in 2004, and is currently recording her second solo album with first solo album collaborator Linda Perry. Auf der Maur also embarked on a solo career, and released her self-titled debut album in 2004, which also included Erlandson on lead guitar on the track, "Would If I Could". She is currently working on her second studio album, "Out of Our Minds".
Hole's final body of work includes thirteen singles, six Grammy nominations, three LPs, three EPs, one compilation album and 10 music videos.
Apparent reunion (2009-present)
On June 17, 2009, NME posted two in-depth blogs, and links to two interviews, of Courtney Love announcing the reunion of Hole. The article was primarily focused on Love's upcoming solo release, Nobody's Daughter, yet it claimed with the "rock Courtney back in action, this music could only come out under one name, HOLE". According to the blog post, Melissa Auf der Maur would once again be bassist, with Micko Larkin replacing Eric Erlandson, and a drummer was not mentioned. There was also mention of "tours next year". However, days later, Auf der Maur, interviewed in Toronto where she was appearing at the North by Northeast music festival, said she had "no clue" about the band's reported reunion and denied the NME claim she had, or was asked to, contribute vocals to the album or had been asked to tour with the purportedly reunited band saying, "I actually don't know ...I arrived at and I heard that Hole were getting back together from people sending me links," she said. Auf Der Maur was essentially unclear about her interest in the reunion. Eric Erlandson has also stated in Spin magazine that contractually no reunion can take place without his involvement, therefore "Nobody's Daughter" would remain Love's solo record, as opposed to a "Hole" record. Love then responded to Erlandson's comments in a Twitter post, claiming that "he's out of his MIND, Hole is MY band, MY name, and MY Trademark". Neither Love or Erlandson have since commented on the apparent reunion.
Courtney Love - lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1989-2002)
Eric Erlandson- lead guitar (1989-2002)
Samantha Maloney ??? drums (1998-2000)
Melissa Auf der Maur - bass, backing vocals (1994-1999)
Patty Schemel - drums (1993-1998)
Kristen Pfaff - bass, backing vocals, piano (1993-1994)
Leslie Hardy - bass (1992)
Jill Emery - bass (1990-1992)
Caroline Rue - drums (1989-1992)
Lisa Roberts - bass (1989)
Errol Stewart - rhythm guitar (1989)
Mike Geisbrecht - rhythm guitar (1989)