Saturday, 15 September 2012

Important Life Band #1: Hole

So, following on from my last post, I’m going to talk about a band that’s important to me. There are quite a few bands that fall into this catergory for me, so this won’t be the only one of these posts – I will be spreading them out though, so don’t panic (I know you were going to, it’s cool).

The first band I’m going to talk about is Hole.

At 11 years old, I wasn’t the most popular girl at school (I wasn’t really popular at school at any point, though, thankfully, I did reach a point where it stopped bothering me so much). I was in my bedroom one night, I think I’d just been doing some art homework, and I switched my little telly on. In the UK, we had this music show called The O-Zone, and that was what was on at the time.

I was only half paying attention when the video for Celebrity Skin came on. I immediately loved what I was hearing and looked up to watch the video. I was in awe, especially of Courtney and Melissa. They just oozed this confidence that I couldn’t even imagine feeling. And Courtney had this strong voice, I’d honestly never heard anything like it.

I knew nothing about this band or its members, only that I wanted to hear and see more.
It was a while before I got to hear or find out more about them. We didn’t have a computer at the time, and the only time they popped up in any of my magazines was when Top of the Pops reviewed the Malibu single.

One morning, on the school bus, Celebrity Skin came on the radio. It was quiet, a bit hard to hear over everyone else talking, but I recognised it and was excited to hear it again. This might sound a bit weird, but I used to sing the tune of the chorus (I couldn’t remember the words!) in my head during particuarly bad times at school… I guess it worked as a coping mechanism, helped block out some of the more unpleasant things people said to me.

Fast-forward about a year-and-a-half  – we get a computer! Weirdly, it took me a few months to even think about looking up Hole, or any other band. One day at school, my best friend at the time asked if I had Napster – this was back in the good old days when Napster was free and, y’know, less than legal. I went home that night, downloaded it, and so began my journey in finding a lot of bands I still listen to now.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that these were pre-broadband days, so downloading songs took time! But I slowly managed to build up a little file of Hole songs, which I played almost every day… it was a bit of a random selection, no full albums. A few tracks from each one, and some live stuff, including their Paradise City cover!
I used to look for their albums in shops every weekend, but there never was anything. My parents were a bit weary of ordering anything online at first (though to be fair, most people’s parents were at some point!), but eventually my Mam let me order the Celebrity Skin album.

After a painful weekend of waiting, it finally arrived! It was all I dreamed it would be, and more!

It wasn’t long after this that the shops in my city actually started to stock a few Hole CD’s… Guess I started a trend :-p

Of course, they may have been there, but I couldn’t buy them instantly, because, well, money. But my collection did slowly grow, as did my love of all things Hole/Courtney Love. Poppy Z Brite’s biography of Courtney became something of a bible for me, and eventually Live Through This eventually grew to be my all-time favourite album.

Then there was the year when Courtney and Melissa both released solo albums. I know Courtney’s solo album didn’t always get the most positive of reviews, and I’ll be honest, it’s far from a perfect album. I do really enjoy some tracks though (I’d say I really like half of the album, the other half, it depends of my mood, skipping may occur…). I certainly don’t regret buying it.

I think if I had to choose a favourite though, Melissa’s solo effort would win. It was interesting to hear her singing lead vocals (I always really liked her backing vocals from the Celebrity Skin era); her voice is quite different from Courtney’s, I think that’s why they sounded so good together.

I find her whole album more enjoyable on a whole, I especially love Skin Reciever. I was able to see her play at the Leeds Festival that year too, and meet her in the signing tent! I was ridiculously nervous as she signed a picture for me, but she was really nice – even complimented me on my Green Day t-shirt (they were playing that day too)!

It was great seeing her live, I’d managed to push my way right to the front. My favourite moment was when she played Good News – it was the b-side to Follow the Waves, so I never really expected her to play it. It was just her and her bass, she talked about how it was the first song she wrote… I’d got a bass myself six months earlier, so it was really inspiring to see someone play a song solely on bass, especially someone I already found inspiring, musically.

When I was at college, I cemented my love for Hole even further by getting a tattoo.

It’s a crossed-out heart, taken from one of their logos. There are quite a few Hole fans out there with this tattoo actually! And on another note, it’s surprisingly awkward to photograph your wrist!

Things were quiet on the Hole-front for a while, with the band technically being broken up. In 2010, Courtney announced that Hole was back… although, in terms of the line-up, it was more like Courtney + three strangers. They released an album, Nobody’s Daughter, which, while it was no Live Through This, wasn’t too bad! It gained mixed reviews, but overall, people seem to like it a lot more than Courtney’s solo effort. In fact, at the risk of having things thrown at me… I think if the band had recorded another album after Celebrity Skin, it probably would have sounded something like this *runs for cover*.

I was able to see this version of the band live that year, at Manchester, and loved it! Of course, given the choice, I’d have preferred to see an earlier line-up (or at the very least, Eric being involved), but I can’t lie, I was happy to see Courtney in the flesh, and the band gave a great performance. Y’know what, why am I trying to play it cool, despite everything I loved every second of it!

It’s anyones guess what will happen in the future, in terms of the band. They did all reunite at a screening of Hit So Hard, a documentary on Patty Schemel’s battle with drug addiction, so who knows, maybe something will happen. Even when things go quiet though, I still love Hole and their music, and listen to them on a regular basis. They’ve been a big part of my life since I first heard them, and I know I’ll always be a fan.
So, I hope that wasn’t too long and boring, assuming anybody read all of that! As I said in my last post, if you’d like to talk about a band that mean a lot to you, get in touch :)

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