Q&A With Courtney Love: On Her Memoir and 'I'm Still Alive' Tour

'People just need to get over that nostalgia thing with me, because it’s not gonna happen'

Courtney Love performs in Park City, Utah.
C Flanigan/FilmMagic
Courtney Love performs in Park City, Utah.
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Courtney Love kicked off her first tour since 2010 last week in Philadelphia. The "I'm Still Alive" tour, as she has dubbed it, is the prelude to a big year for the Hole frontwoman, who hopes to have a new album and autobiography (co-written with Rolling Stone writer Anthony Bozza) out this December.

On the opening day of the tour, which she promises will feature rarities and covers, the always entertaining and forthright Love talked to Rolling Stone about a variety of subjects, from the new album and book to the thread that she feels united Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She also made clear that any reunion of the original Hole lineup is out of the question. 

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You sent me a single at the end of last year and then we hadn't heard anything in a while. What prompted the tour now?
That was supposed to come out, it hasn't, and it's not going to until Christmas, when the book comes out. So I'm just calling this the I'm Still Alive tour. Hopefully we'll come up with really cool covers, we'll come up with rarities that we don't play often, etc. We'll play some hits. It's really good for the band to get tighter. It's small venues, so if you really are a fan and you like Hole and you like the music I've written, then you'll hear songs that you haven't so much heard. I thought the single was gonna be out now. It's not gonna be out until HarperCollins has this book. So I sent you "This Is War," which is beautiful. It's actually called "Wedding Day." And then the B-side is called "California," which, if you're gonna call a song "California," you better know it's fucking good, and it is. Then there are two other songs that are excellent out of the 12 we've recorded. So four songs so far, but I'm really picky, and I need an impeccable record at this point. We can do it really quick, so probably after this tour we'll start recording. All I'm focused on right now is getting the right record deal. There have only been four alternative records this year that have done well – three of them, including Queens of the Stone Age and Vampire Weekend, are on the same umbrella group, and Fall Out Boy. So those are nice glimpses of hope in an otherwise completely rapped-out, popped-out, whacked-out world that I just don't understand.

What are some of the surprises you have in store for this tour?
Someone brought up "Credit in the Straight World" – I'm gonna look into that. There are probably four or five good songs on America's Sweetheart that we can look into. There are songs I don't play almost ever that we can look into. We'll work within the oeuvre of what we have, but in small venues and for superfans, and some people who have never seen me. Girls that were 12 in 2010 are now 15, so they can come see me. That's my demographic – smart guys that are hetero, a lot of gay guys, a lot of disaffected girls and some women that were like, "I grew up on you." The best compliment I've received in forever is somebody played me a band with all males in it and said, "God, this sounds like Hole," meaning they understood there was an acoustic and sonic aesthetic element to the music that had nothing to do with gender. And I was so impressed with this person noticing that. And the last interview I had was with this guy where he was like, "Yeah, you were part of a movement 23 years ago that I find important, grunge." I'm like, "No, we weren't. We were no more grunge than the Chili Peppers." We weren't allowed to be grunge. I wanted to be grunge because it was a movement, but no one would let me in. So as unique as the Chili Peppers were on their island, Hole has always been on its own little island. I'd also say the same for Nine Inch Nails and the Smashing Pumpkins back then.

The one thread I'd say for all three of you was good songwriting.
Thank you, I appreciate that, and a different aesthetic to all three of us. Trent [Reznor] has definitely gotten away with a hell of a lot more than me or Billy [Corgan] in terms of calling his band Nine Inch Nails and no one caring who's in it. But that's probably because he's kept the lights down low. He never lets anyone else pose for a picture [laughs]. Somebody interviewed me today who had just talked to Corgan, and he said one of his sourpuss bon mots like, "Nostalgia is death." But I happen to agree with him – if it's not fresh and new I'm picking up my pup tent, and I mean by Christmas. On this tour, like I said, it's a bit of an accident. It was supposed to converge with the single that I sent you nine months ago. There are now three more songs that are as good, and it's a damn good song. Micko [Larkin] wrote the riff in it and I've been playing with Micko now eight years, which is as long as I played with Eric [Erlandson], and so people just need to get over that nostalgia thing with me, because it's not gonna happen. If I wanted to do one of those big money sell-out reunion things, you think I haven't been asked a million times? About as many times as I've been asked to do reality television – lots of times. And the answer is just gonna stay the same: N-O. So we're gonna be doing gems from the catalog, things people are familiar with, good covers, small, nice venues. Get done, get back, record, finish the book and come back out in the new year.

Who are you working with on the book?
I'm writing some of it myself and then I'm co-writing it with Anthony Bozza. Yesterday I did four hours on it, the day before that I did five hours on it. Just covering the bases, but I finally have a map of places that need coverage and I can hop around from starting in 1994 and get to 2008 in two sentences. It's hard for me to be really linear. I'm reading Just Kids again because I know [Patti Smith] wrote that by herself, and My Booky Wook by Russell Brand, which I think is a great book in terms of just his voice. And then I found an old Tallulah Bankhead book where she is very fabulous. So it's a combination of those three books. [Keith Richards'] Life was just so bloody long, I didn't even finish it.