While she tends to be seen as someone’s amusingly crazy aunt today, back in the late ’90s Hole founder Courtney Love was the most fascinating and polarizing figure in rock ’n’ roll.
The Straight approached her label, Universal, about putting her on the cover with little expectation it would happen; back in 1999, the only places getting access to her were high-profile outlets like Spin and Rolling Stone. I got an unexpected call at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, with word that Love was—despite all previous indications otherwise—willing to do a 20-minute interview.
When it happened an hour later, the first 17 minutes consisted of the singer railing on about the Internet in general, and the boringness of her just-completed previous interview in particular. As the last of the sand slipped through the hourglass, I threw out the name of the Gun Club, which I knew Love had been obsessed with as a teen. The response (entirely unsarcastic, but wildly erroneous) was “You’re so cool,” which I countered with “Well, if that’s the case, you have to give me more time.”
What followed was a thrilling hour-and-a-half exorcism, in which Love emotionally delved into the trauma of Kurt Cobain’s death, the challenges of being a strong woman in the ugly business that is rock ’n’ roll, and her guilt about picking on Eddie Vedder during the early days of Seattle’s grunge explosion. Twice the record rep at Universal cut in on the call, the second interruption causing Love to spit, “Fuck off—this is a good interview, and I don’t have many of them.”
I could have easily seconded that. At one point she asked, “Can you believe what good stuff I’m giving you? You should syndicate this.” A couple of months later, Hole—which was one of the greatest live bands I’ve ever seen—would implode. Love remains my favourite interview to date.