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Melissa Auf der Maur on Smashing Pumpkins & Hole revivals 10:10 am // Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Posted by Jill in billy corgan, courtney love, hole, interview, melissa auf der maur, revival.
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Melissa Auf der Maur recently sat down with GrungeReport.net for a lengthy exclusive interview to discuss her new album Out of Our Minds and other projects. It’s hardly a surprise that editor Brett Buchanan also asked her to weigh in on a multitude of Smashing Pumpkins and Hole-related issues, including the 2007 Pumpkins revival and this year’s Hole ‘resurrection’. The unabridged interview is well worth the read, but I’ve copied some choice excerpts below:

On Billy Corgan’s involvement in the making of Hole’s 1998 album, Celebrity Skin:

Billy really was only there for 2 weeks, but Billy can take some credit in co-writing. He did co-write a couple of the big hits and amazing songs on that record but he was not there for the 2 year process which me, Eric [Erlandson], Courtney [Love], and Patty [Schemel] were the only ones there laboring and writing and spending months and months at a time writing. I was there for the creation of every song and I contributed, I feel, a lot. In fact, what’s interesting about Billy is he came in basically to sort of fix up some songs and help Courtney with some final sort of visions of a few songs and he was a great great help, but Michael Beinhorn was ultimately more part of the big packaging and finishing of the songs and the vision of the sonic direction. (…) Once Michael came in that’s when we really got down to what I really think makes that record so great.

On her initial discussions with Corgan about participating in the 2007 Smashing Pumpkins revival:

At that time I did go to Chicago to record a song with Billy for my record that ended up being musically not fitting for this record but I do have a really beautiful outtake of a song that we wrote and recorded together. It was right at that time that he was playing with the idea of bringing it back together, we did have a brief conversation in Chicago about him maybe reaching out to James [Iha] and would I be interested and having a very light conversation about it where I said I’d consider it of course. Then I guess he sort of went to a more of a focused him and Jimmy [Chamberlin] direction, which was his decision. But there was a very brief moment while I was in the studio recording my song with him where we did discuss it, but we never talked about it again.

On the similarities in Corgan’s and Courtney Love’s pursuing of their respective creative visions:

…(T)here’s a reason why people are fascinated by me having worked with these two very dominant personalities. If there were ever bands with real dominant frontpeople, it’s those two people right, there’s no question. A band like Led Zeppelin or even Nirvana for that matter, there’s some bands that are just more bands and then there’s other bands where the frontpeople are so strong and so massive in personality, obviously I guess they seem to have the final say. So in some ways I’m not surprised that Courtney and Billy would go in this direction.

On Billy Corgan continuing to use the Smashing Pumpkins’ name:

In the case of the Pumpkins I was basically a Pumpkins fan that got to live my dream for a moment so I have no right to make any judgment. I will point out though that I think from what I remember legally Billy was the owner of the name. (…) I believe that Billy is the founder, and ultimately that’s probably why he made his own decisions. I don’t know the details about Jimmy leaving last year, I mean I was curious because Jimmy and Billy are such an intertwined musical force and it did surprise me. (…) But I’m not surprised that Billy would continue with the vision.

A Drunken Beer Bottle, and a Dream 11:17 am // Thursday, December 17, 2009

Posted by Jill in interview, melissa auf der maur.
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In today’s Edmonton-based Vue Weekly, Melissa Auf der Maur gets a nice profile in advance of her show tomorrow night at the Shaw.  In it, she discusses the creative vision and context behind her “Out of Our Minds” multimedia project (previously covered at HU here and here), which should finally see release in 2010.  The whole article’s a great glimpse into Auf der Maur’s creative background, but I couldn’t help but share this great gem about how she hooked up with Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins in 1991.  I think the story’s never been told better:

Melissa Auf der Maur’s moment came  one day in 1991, when her friend Bruce threw a beer at Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. This was before the release of the band’s debut album and one of the band’s first shows in Canada. Auf der Maur took it upon herself to apologize for her drunk friend and to let Corgan know how much she enjoyed the gig.

The pair kept in touch, and when the Pumpkins returned to Montréal a couple of years later, Auf der Maur’s band Tinker was offered the opening slot. Corgan was so impressed with her bass playing he told her that, one day, she would play bass in his band.  Six months later, with a glowing recommendation from Corgan, she joined Hole and toured the world for five years, and in 1999 she was on the Smashing Pumpkin’s Machina tour.

“Bruce is aware that he changed my life and his fate and my fate are linked. His drunk beer bottle and my life in music are eternally linked. Yes, every time I see him, I hug him for it,” she laughs. “I’ve been so unbelievably lucky. My dream people, people I’ve dreamt of since I was 16, I have managed to hang out with musically. It’s just unbelievable. I mean, I do genuinely pray to the gods of music every day, basically for the fact that I realize how a moment in time opened.”

Courtney Love to revive Hole; Corgan songs will see release 10:38 am // Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Posted by jjb in billy corgan, courtney love, hole, melissa auf der maur, news.
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She’s bringing it back without Eric Erlandson — but (it seems) with Melissa auf der Maur!  The NME has the surprising report:

She’s still kept a bunch of the songs she wrote [for Nobody’s Daughter, which was a forthcoming solo album] with Perry (and, indeed, longtime compadre Billy Corgan). But when she began writing with Larkin (whose talent she looks like having been right about), it became obvious that the ‘Rock Courtney’ was back in action, and that this music could only come out under one name, HOLE.

Micko [Larkin] will be lead guitarist, and Hole bassist Melissa auf der Maur, though working on projects of her own, has returned for backing vocals, and may play bass on tours next year. The album is as good as done, with the rest of the touring line-up for now remaining TBC.

If you’re unfamiliar with Billy Corgan’s contributions to what is now the forthcoming Hole album Nobody’s Daughter — possibly because we have not covered this well on HU, eek — the Wikipedia entry for the album is a good place to start.

Melissa Auf der Maur still likes the Smashing Pumpkins 3:57 pm // Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Posted by jjb in interview, melissa auf der maur, revival.
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The gutsy bassist confesses to Dan Reilly of Time Warner’s AOL’s Spinner.com:

“I haven’t seen any of the Pumpkins’ reunion shows, but I’d like to,” she says. “There was a brief conversation once about me rejoining but it didn’t happen. We’re on good terms and I’m a huge Pumpkins fan.”




Former Pumpkin debuts film at Sundance 2:49 pm // Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Posted by Jill in art, melissa auf der maur, movies and film, news.
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Melissa auf der Maur, former bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins and semi-frequent blog-subject has made good on her promise from August 2007 to deliver a short film and accompanying comic book entitled “Out of Our Minds.”  According to several sources (Brooklyn Vegan, Spinner), the film debuted last Friday at the 2009 Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah.

From the film’s press release:

Three time periods, one connection: Blood. The central characters are a woman (Melissa Auf der Maur) and her car. The 28-minute film follows her in a strange ritual that climaxes in a collision between past and future, crashing through the gateway to parallel worlds in the same forest. A fantasy world where a Viking heart, a car crash and a bleeding forest connect. Using music rather than dialogue, the film tells a universal tale in striking optics. Borrowed from mythology, the Hunt for the Heart is the eternal quest envisioned in Out Of Our Minds. Conceived by musician Melissa Auf der Maur and birthed by Filmmaker Tony Stone (Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America) this mini epic is proudly self-produced and shot in HD fuelled by solar power.

Find the trailer here, complete with Gandalf-esque cloakage. The imagery clearly borrows from the same palette as the photography show I visited in October.  According to Spinner, who recently interviewed Auf der Maur, the film is entirely without dialogue:

…[T]he film is told entirely through an original score that Auf Der Maur collaborated on with Los Angeles’ the Entrance Band. “The music shares the lyrical and emotional intent of my album’s title track but it was written specifically for the film,” Auf Der Maur says. The accompanying comic book is also a standalone part of the story. “It has different, hidden messages for those who want to continue to dig into the symbolism of the story.”

Did anyone get a chance to catch the film?  If not, there’s one remaining screening according to Sundance’s official schedule.  [Friday January, 23 at 3:15 p.m.]

MADM: Art Show Recap 2:12 pm // Friday, October 24, 2008

Posted by Jill in art, melissa auf der maur.
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Yesterday, I discovered that Melissa Auf Der maur was opening a photo exhibit with Conrad Keely in the East Village.  I swung by last night after work, just before meeting a friend for dinner.  The gallery wasn’t hard to find, nestled on 1st Street just east of 2nd Avenue.  Strangely, I still don’t know its name though it was right next to a brightly-lit gas station (a sure rarity in Greenwich Village).

When I arrived, there was a small group gathered outside, including Melissa herself.  Sipping white wine and talking candidly with her friends, she looked fantastic in riding boots and a blazer.  Wild, curly hair and no makeup, but that woman needs none at all.

The scene inside was lively with a couple dozen or so folks gathered.  The gallery was tiny, no more than ten feet wide.  Conrad Keely’s works were captivating: small blue ballpoint pen works, predominantly of historical noblewomen (real and imagined).

Across the room were Melissa’s photos, organized more like an editorial photo essay than a gallery.  Her works depicted logging scenes, the trees tinted a bloody red.  Yet those shots were intermixed with surreal photographs of men and women in the forest.  The show was touching, both sad and a bit magical.  I most loved the character photographs — she makes her subjects’ skin turn to porcelain.

And of course, on the way out, I smiled and told MADM it was lovely.  Anyone else make it to the opening?

Opening Today: NYC Art Exhibition 11:21 am // Thursday, October 23, 2008

Posted by Jill in melissa auf der maur, news, photo.
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NME.com tipped me off to a vaguely-written announcement about an upcoming art exhibition featuring the work of former Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur and musician Conrad Keely from …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.  Despite offering no details about the show, I did a bit more research and found out the show opens TODAY at 34 East 1st Street from 6-9pm.  More details are available on Conrad Keely’s MySpace blog, including a preview of the works.  (He is also watching Zeitgeist, the movie?!  Sine?)

In related news, Melissa will also be playing her first show in three years at Lion d’Or in Montreal on November 1st.  More details here (en français, bien sur).  She also plans to release three exclusive new songs on her website in November in anticipation of her Spring 2009 album release for the concept project, Out of Our Minds.

Perhaps HU will have to swing by tonight?!

La Dolly Maura 12:56 pm // Thursday, September 11, 2008

Posted by Jill in blogging, courtney love, idolator, maura johnston, melissa auf der maur.
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Losing her way on a journey into the annals of alternative rock history, Maura Johnston (of Idolator.. infamy?!, at right) wrote today regarding Courtney Love’s new blog entry:

Perhaps taking a cue from her stream-of-consciousness ways, I got completely sidetracked by her mention of Smashing Pumpkins’ “La Dolly Vita” (above), which I first heard on the fantastic Sub Pop compilation Afternoon Delight. (“Vita” was a b-side to the Pumpkins’ 1990 Sub Pop single, which featured the blistering “Tristessa” on the front.)

Here is the track listing for Afternoon Delight. It’s kind of great. No, scratch “kind of,” it’s great—even the spoken-word bit, althogh I will admit that it was tough for the teenaged me to stomach at first.

Yes, there’s a random video of “La Dolly Vita” included on the entry in case you haven’t heard it at some point in the last twelve years.  I agree with her assessment: I love that compilation – a lot.-

Also, Maura writes that veteran Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf der Maur may soon be collaborating with Love, according to the aforementioned blog, which you may read at your own risk.  Quel surprise!

The World is Darker (feat. Melissa Auf der Maur), Part II 10:09 am // Friday, March 14, 2008

Posted by Jill in melissa auf der maur, video.
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Finally, I got my wish — the video for The World is Darker has been posted on YouTube for us non-Canadians to watch! The dark, beautiful video reminds me of David Lynch films with a commercial polish. Definitely worth the watch.


The World is Darker (feat. Melissa Auf der Maur) 11:05 am // Friday, March 7, 2008

Posted by Jill in melissa auf der maur.
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Coming at you from Canadia — Neverending White Lights, Daniel Victor’s band from Windsor, Ontario, has a new video for The World Is Darker. Melissa Auf der Maur contributes both vocals and video presence, as MuchMusic.com blogged last night, in an interesting interview with the artist. Victor gushes in the interview about his admiration of MADM:

First off, I’ve been a fan of her past projects, namely when she played bass in the groundbreaking band Hole, not to mention The Smashing Pumpkins. I had heard her solo stuff years ago and thought it was great as well. Her voice is strong and it really draws you in. On my last album, I was looking to incorporate more female singers, as in the past all my collaborations were with male artists. She was on my list of interesting voices to approach, and I found her. Once we talked about what NWL was about, she was interested and I began writing the perfect song for her. The rest is history!

If you’re in Canada, catch the video here, but I haven’t seen it yet! Can someone please upload to YouTube or GoogleVideo? In the meantime, you can watch a live performance of the original song below:

Prêt-à-Rocker: Smashing Pumpkins and… Fashion? 3:05 pm // Friday, February 22, 2008

Posted by Jill in art, billy corgan, fashion, james iha, melissa auf der maur.
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They’ve come a long way, baby.

The Smashing Pumpkins have been indubitably tied to fashion – well, at least since Mellon Collie brought financial stability and catapulted them into the Public Eye. But what has impressed me most in the span of their career is the penchant for drama – not simply vain haute couture – that drives their style. They’ve toed the avant-garde line during the Adore and Machina eras with Jean-Paul Gaultier jumpsuits just as dramatically as their fun, costumed tour looks (Jeff Schroeder’s cape, anyone?). The infamous Zero shirt became an icon for moody American teens and the black and white stripes so prevalent last year have started turning up in droves at the Swedish mega-retailer H&M. Let’s hope the mental-ward scrubs Billy Corgan sported last year will never achieve popularity beyond Britney Spears.

But what is this history of this fashion fascination? What is their relationship to cultural couture?

As far back as 1995 and 1996, the Pumpkins worked with Arianne Phillips, a then-barely-known but now Oscar-nominated costume designer. Presumably, Phillips worked with them on their music videos and touring garb as that was her primary focus at the time. In this 1997 article from the New York Times, she explains her perspective on the relationship between fashion and music:

“Getting” a subject’s cultural context, whether it is a portrait she is styling or a character she is defining in a film, is her signature. For instance, she came up with the idea of dressing Ice-T in a policeman’s uniform on the cover of Rolling Stone when his controversial song ”Cop Killer” was released, in 1992.

‘I got disillusioned with fashion for fashion’s sake,” she said. ”The great thing about musicians is, you have an art base to work with. If I work with a new band, I’ll ask for a tape, and they’ll say, ‘Why?’ I’ll say, ‘I’m dressing a band.”

Regardless of the fact that Ice-T now plays a detective on Law & Order: SVU, I would surmise that the cultural contextualization Phillips sought to achieve resonated with the Pumpkins early on. They went on a year after this article was published to perform at the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards after their music video for Ava Adore received a nod for “Most Stylish Video.” Download their performance of Crestfallen here.

More recently, the band has worked with Elise Overland, who just showed her collection at New York Fashion Week this month. VH1 gave an interview with her recently, in which she discusses her relationship as a designer to the music world — check out that interview here. However, Billy Corgan is not the only band member soliciting designs for the band from Gaultier and famous costume houses, though. The entire band has always been active in the fashion community.

Former guitarist James Iha and designer Anna Sui grew their friendship in the 90’s, with Iha modeling looks for her runway shows and designing t-shirts for her quirky line. Iha, a very public fan of fashion, frequents NYC’s Fashion Week, making numerous appearances at shows for Anna Sui’s collections as well as Benjamin Cho and others. [pictured at left during Fashion Week, Fall 2006]

Former bassist Melissa auf der Maur also follows designers closely. In a fantastic article for W Magazine, auf der Maur explores her love for fashion, reveals how she met the Smashing Pumpkins in 1990, and jokes about cruising local malls’ Sunglass Huts with James Iha on the Machina tour in 2000. Citing Michelle Mason, Arianne Phillips, Zaldy, Olivier Theyskens , and Versace as some of her favorite designers, she too modeled runway fashions for Theyskens and did print modeling for Calvin Klein. She elaborates on her taste in a New York Times Arts Feature – and on her first fashion mentor, Courtney Love:

Ms. Love introduced Ms. Auf der Maur to arena rock, but along the way Ms. Love also opened the door on the world of fashion. Ms. Auf der Maur, who was a thrift-shop devotee who had never worn makeup or tweezed an eyebrow, now wears the clothes of several designers she counts as friends. She even got a taste of the runway in 1999 after the Belgian designer Oliver Theyskens made her a dress she loved, a racy update of a Victorian gown, and asked her to model it in Paris.

“I couldn’t resist,” she said.

The current look on the Smashing Pumpkins tour features Corgan in a floor-length silver frock, emblazoned with varying icons depicting Saturn or the curious “999.” The futuristic look is not surprising to fans, however. We’re used to the theatrics – personally, I think they’re quite fun. In fact, now that I think about it, isn’t the look a kitschy, futuristic Rocket-Music-Video-meets-Machina-Mystery?!

Is MADM out of her mind? You decide! 7:19 pm // Thursday, August 23, 2007

Posted by Jill in melissa auf der maur, news, video.
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Although she’s since been replaced by Ginger Reyes, Melissa auf der Maur holds a special place in our hearts as former bassist for the Pumpkins and Hole. Okay, and she’s totally hot. Today’s Billboard news blog reports the following from the MADM camp: she has recently completed her second solo album entitled “Out of Our Minds.” Billboard goes on to report:

An avid sci-fi fan also fascinated by Viking legend, she knew she wanted to make a concept album off the top, including fantasy, time-travel and the idea of male-female forces.

But get this: it also includes a short film and comic book. Gee, I wonder where she got the idea from?

Glass and the Machines of God – Episode #1


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