Interview: Patty Schemel, star of ‘Hit So Hard’

Having spent the best part of a decade as one quarter of iconic US grunge rock band Hole, the outfit’s drummer Patty Schemel has finally emerged from behind the kit and out of the shadows to take the lead role in P. David Ebersole’s entertaining rockumentary Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel (2011). Detailing her tempestuous time in the Courtney Love-fronted Hole and various issues with substance abuse, the film is comprised of some Schemel’s most personal archive footage, along with interviews with the rest of the band and those closes to her. To mark the movie’s arrival on UK shores, CineVue was fortunate enough to catch up with the lady herself to chat about its recent release.

Daniel Gumble: When did you decide to compile all of the archive footage that you had accumulated from over the years and release it as a film?

Patty Schemel: In 2006 I went out for lunch with an old friend and she said she remembered me filming a lot back then and that I should digitise the footage as it’ll start to disintegrate over time. So it was then that I started to get all the tapes together and start compiling the footage. And then I contacted David and we began work on the film in 2007.

DG: How did it feel to re-watch all of that old footage for the first time?

PS: I hadn’t seen any of it for a long time and it was like a time machine. It was pretty heavy. Some of it was great, like looking back at some of the live shows and some great musical moments, but some of it was really difficult.

DG: How did you go about choosing which footage to use, considering how much there was?

PS: We spent the entire summer of 2007 looking through all of the footage, and I’d explain to David what was happening and what was going on behind the scenes. So he would listen and put the story together in his mind like a time line and decide where the different pieces of footage should go. There’s a lot of stuff of me and Kurt [Cobain] and Courtney when we lived together, and I didn’t want to put a lot of that stuff in there, but I also wanted to show what that time was like and show that part of him, but I also wanted to keep it about my perspective too and just about that.

DG: Despite the darkness surrounding the band following the deaths of both Kurt and Kristen [Pfaff] within the space of just a couple of months, one of the most joyous aspects of this time appears to be the arrival of Melissa Auf der Maur and your subsequent friendship with her. Why do you feel you were able to bond with her so quickly?

PS: Melissa was a great bass player and we both bonded musically but also we would both use each other to keep things light. So, when things got hard, we would just go off together and do things and confide in each other, which really kept us close. That’s something I really wanted to capture with the film, as there was so much time we had that was just silly and ridiculous, and it wasn’t all just drugs and that stuff.

DG: One of the key moments in the film, and for your career with Hole, was the making of the Celebrity Skin album. How do you feel about that iconic release now?

PS: At the time I was very angry…I felt huge betrayal. But I didn’t really know what their views on it were until the film was completed in its first rough cut, as I hadn’t yet seen their interviews. So, hearing Melissa’s take on it and hearing Eric say we had made a big mistake and that he was sorry about it felt huge because that wasn’t what I had going on in my mind at the time and for that many years. And in that way hearing their views felt like a draining of all that resentment from over the years, and we are all adults now, whereas we were so young then.

DG: How did it feel to be in the same room with the other members for the first time in so long when it came to the premiere of the film?

PS: It was the premiere of the film in New York and I remember Eric, Melissa and I were all there and we were all waiting for Courtney, and it was the same situation as it always had been before; we were all waiting for her. And I think Melissa didn’t have the patience she used to, neither did I! But once she showed up we fell back into the old dynamic of just how we are with each other.

Read our review of P. David Ebersole’s Hole rockumentary Hit So Hard here. 

Daniel Gumble

Founded in 2010, CineVue’s team of passionate cinéastes are working to bring you reviews of the latest cinema releases, as well as features, interviews and international film festival coverage.


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