Courtney Love is sitting, half-dressed in her room at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. I am her last interview for the week, and she is talking at an almost indecipherable pace about everything but her new album Nobody’s Daughter.
In less than three hours Love will slink on stage at The Henry Ford Theatre for one of Hole’s first US gigs in over a decade, and in doing so give a long overdue middle finger to those so eager to see her crash and burn.
But right now she is drinking Rosé, trawling through piles of clothes and absorbing LA, the city she loves to hate. “I’m looking at The Gucci sign next to the Chateau Marmont and then the McDonalds and Chase Manhattan bank and the strip mall with a little sign that says Hollywood. This is an excellent piece of real estate I must say. But it’s not amazing. I love this hotel, I just hate LA.”
Over the next twenty minutes, I will get a sneak peek into the world of one of music’s most infamous women. Despite my attempt to heed her publicist’s advice and ensure questions focus on the album, Love, with typical inhibition, will discuss everything from Pixie Geldof to the true identity of her maternal Grandfather.
As our conversation careens along, pin-balling around her manic stream of consciousness, I am confronted by the many shades of Love; mother, rockstar, feminist, widow, junkie, whore – all labels so unremittingly slapped on her by a music media intent on defining ‘Courtney Love’, that she now seemingly embraces them.
And it is this theme that resonates on Hole’s fourth album Nobody’s Daughter – an album that in its very essence is about Love’s identity, or more accurately her identities.
Love first started writing Nobody’s Daughter whilst undergoing drug rehabilitation back in 2005 – only a year after the release of her critically maligned solo album, America’s Sweetheart, and at the very the end of what she refers to as ‘the Letterman years’ (a reference to the now infamous episode of Letterman on which she flashed her breasts, much to the delight of host and audience alike).
It has been such a long time since Love first picked up the guitar for this record it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the singer is already tiring of the songs. However, given that she has only performed them live a handful of times, I am a little bemused to hear that she is already sick of playing them. “I’m very happy and I’m very proud of it, but I’ve been living with this shit for five years and some of these songs have been bouncing around for five years – so playing them I’m just kind of tired. I’m like, okay, alright already! Now I know why people make records in 18 months – so they don’t get fucking sick of it, y’know?!”
This is the most I will be able to get Love to talk directly about the album for at least ten minutes. However, it in no way accurately reflects her enthusiasm for the record, because when we do finally get there (and we do) Love expresses a genuine pride in what she has produced with Nobody’s Daughter. But before we reach this juncture there is so very much more to talk about, starting with Micko Larkin.
Micko Larkin (formerly of English band Larrikin Love) is the new Eric Erlandson of Hole, a 23-year-old guitarist that Love met whilst trying out potential new bandmates in London a few years ago. Through co-writing a handful of tracks on the album he has brought a distinctly English sound to a number of the songs, most notably the decidedly transparent Honey, a track which Love has admitted is about Kurt Cobain. It is clear, from the first mention of his name that Love is very much enamored with Micko, and perhaps has even found a like-minded soul in the young guitarist.
“He has been with me since he is 18. He joined our family when he was barely 18. He has been playing since he was four professionally and he’s just one of those fucking prodigy kids that is amazing and he is a real focal point. And where Melissa use to be you have Micko.”
Courtney’s voice audibly honeys as she gets lost in a Micko moment. ”[You know], he was at a Starbucks in Austin at SXSW and he ordered a coffee and the name he ordered the coffee under…was Dragon, so we named him Dragon Larkin. It is such the dumbest thing – who the fuck calls themselves Dragon at a Starbucks?”
As she lets out a raspy laugh, it is clear Love is on a topic that she has a lot of time for. And it is oddly endearing to hear this woman gush in an almost maternal way about her new partner in crime.
“He has got such a big ego, man. He is hysterical, he looks like Mick Jagger when he was 21. He just stands there and doesn’t take any shit; he doesn’t have to do any interviews he doesn’t have to do anything except or get his picture taken and look cool.”
“You know, I put him through a rehabilitation thing ‘cause he wasn’t totally undamaged. He had a major alcohol issue that he hates talking about, so I’m not going to talk about it too much, so we had to fix that. You know, he can do anything else, he just can’t drink. So you know, oh and he has a really nice wardrobe.”
“As a solo artist it made no sense I didn’t even tour, I was just so druggy and all awful and it just wasn’t a good part of my life so…I just feel so much better with a band.”
And just like that, a window is jammed open for me to talk about Hole Mark II.