In a rambling onstage interview Saturday at Austin’s SXSW music convention, singer/actress Courtney Love offered her critique of the music industry, as well as updates on her ongoing litigation with Universal Music, her pending lawsuit against former members of Nirvana and the new music she’s writing.
Citing Pearl Jam’s failed campaign against Ticketmaster as inspiration, Love said she’s actively recruiting everyone from Bono to members of R.E.M. to join her in supporting legislation that will improve the terms and conditions of record contracts for artists. Her whole-hearted efforts to that end so far have included testifying before the California state legislature to repeal California Labor Code 2855 — which bars recording artists from opting out of personal service contracts after seven years — and filing a lawsuit against Geffen Records in an effort to gain release from what she considers an unfair contract, a venture she says has cost $2.4 million thus far.
Claiming her wild card reputation will aid her efforts, Love repeatedly alluded to a 221-page deposition she gave for the lawsuit, which she says contains information both embarrassing and incriminating to record executives. With boyfriend and manager Jim Barber feeding her figures from the side of the stage, Love claimed successful bands on major labels wind up paying for the ninety or so percent of the bands that aren’t profitable, via built-in contractual obligations. For the most part, however, Love failed to capitalize on a captive capacity audience by repeatedly losing her train of thought and using overstated metaphors for cheap shock value, saying artists no longer wanted to be “house niggers” to the record company execs, “massa.” Chuck Phillips of the Los Angeles Times conducted the interview and at times was noticeably frustrated by Love’s inability to finish thoughts and willingness to sacrifice focus for chatty asides.
“It’s so boring,” said Love of her case against the former Nirvana members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. Last October, she sued the two and Universal Records seeking control of Nirvana’s masters and to dissolve the partnership Nirvana LLC, which she formed with them in 1997. The move blocked the release of a box set that was planned to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and would have included some unreleased material, including the much-discussed “You Know You’re Right.”
“It’s going to take like four hours for me to win,” she continued. “Simply put, in the early 90’s, LLC’s were chic, I got freaked and found a foxhole . . . Krist is trying to get his last moment in the sun.”
Love also said she’s been writing songs with former Four Non-Blondes singer Linda Perry, who recently penned several tracks for the new Christina Aguilera album, a fact that Love jokingly says caused her to demand Perry “take a steam bath” before collaborating.
Sensitive to loud whispers over the years that she hasn’t written the music for albums such as Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, Love said she’s the victim of a double standard. “If I write with other people, people think someone else wrote the whole thing. Charles Cross (Nirvana biographer) got the guys who produced Live Through This (Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie) to say Kurt wrote it. I asked Kurt for one riff and he told me to fuck off. I learned more from (“Celebrity Skin” collaborator Billy) Corgan in twelve days than I did from Kurt in three years.”
“I’m writing a lot of cool 60’s garage nugget stuff,” said Love of the songs for the new album she’s currently shopping. “I’m headed over to England soon. In two months I’m going to have a Top Five single there. I’ll put the Strokes in their place.”