The list of rock bands who’ve disbanded and reunited is long, while the ones who haven’t is not. Though Hole technically reunited in 2010, they did so without three members of their classic line-up, guitarist Eric Erlandson, bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur and drummer Patty Schemel. Without those three members, the distinction between frontwoman Courtney Love’s 2004 solo album America’s Sweetheart and Hole’s 2010 reunion album Nobody’s Daughter is pure semantics.
There have been hints and outright claims that the classic line-up would reform; in fact, they did, briefly, in New York four years ago for a two-song set at an after-party celebrating the release of Schemel’s documentary Hit So Hard: The Life and Near-Death Story of Patty Schemel. “That was an accident,” Auf Der Maur says today. “I was there supporting Patty’s movie. Eric was also releasing his book [Letters to Kurt] and I had done a little performance with him at Barnes & Noble. I was there supporting them and me, [Schemel] and Eric were gonna jam and play a Sebadoh song—and Courtney showed up.”
Love stoked the flames in late 2013 when she posted a photo of her and Erlandson on Facebook, tagged Auf Der Maur and captioned it “2014 going to be a very interesting year.” Shortly thereafter, Love backpedaled on the insinuation that Hole was reforming, and now Auf Der Maur offers clues to the retraction.
“[Love] just wants to make new songs,” Auf Der Maur says. “Well, that’s cool but we’re not on the [same] wavelength right now. I’m not able to jam in L.A. every day.” Today Auf Der Maur lives in the tiny town of Hudson, NY, where she and her life partner Tony Stone are co-founders of Basilica Hudson, a non-profit multidisciplinary arts center. “[It’s] the hardest work in my life. It’s running a serious public event center.”
For Auf Der Maur—who joined the Smashing Pumpkins briefly and released two solo albums since she left Hole in 1999—the traditional appeal of a reunion tour (read: money) doesn’t move her. “I don’t do anything for money,” she says. “When I imagine us playing outdoor daytime stages to, like, beer-soaked 20 year olds who don’t even know Hole or listen to records, that doesn’t sound healing or celebratory.”
“Courtney is a once-in-a-generation piece of art. She is fuckin’ incredible.”
What she wants, and what she claims Erlandson wants, is to raid the Hole vaults for a proper, immersive retrospective that would include demos, outtakes, live recordings, video and photos. “Those three albums [1991’s Pretty on the Inside, 1994’s Live Through This and 1998’s Celebrity Skin] are all unique and incredible,” she says. “Courtney is a once-in-a-generation piece of art. She is fuckin’ incredible. And, yes, her drama sometimes overshadows the power of the band. The power of the band, the arc of the albums and her performing abilities, we have it all on tape everywhere. We have proof of it and I would love to have it in one place. I support that story and I would be happy to put it in an incredible archival package. But that doesn’t mean playing a thousand fuckin’ festivals for money. If you wanna talk about the archives and you wanna talk about the brilliant past then I’ll have a conversation.” (When reached by email, Erlandson declined to comment for this story)
Of course, Love has already had the conversation with The Paper in 2014 when it appeared as if a Hole reformation was a fait accompli. What she said then seems to conflict with Auf Der Maur’s proposition. “We’d have to make some music that’s relevant to now,” Love said of a potential reunion. “I’m not going to do the oldies circuit.”
Should Love acquiesce and do things Auf Der Maur’s way, the bassist “would be so proud to put that into the world that I would want to celebrate and play a couple shows. I really would just like to finish what we started. It’s still unresolved to me.”