Interview: Melissa Auf der Maur

On her new CD and movie — and Billy, Courtney, and Danzig
By JON GARELICK  |  October 14, 2010

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Melissa Auf der Maur describes herself as "a good Boston Irish girl," born on St. Patrick's Day in 1972. Actually she was born in Montreal, the daughter of a famed newspaper columnist and politician, Nick Auf der Maur, and the literary translator Linda Gaboriau, born Linda Marie Johnson in Boston. "I came out with red hair to a black-Irish mother and she almost turned me back to the hospital," Auf der Maur tells me on the phone from her home in the Catskills. "Like, no way is that girl with orange fluff my child!"

Of course, Melissa Auf der Maur is more popularly known as a bass player and solo artist who cut her teeth with Hole and Smashing Pumpkins. In fact, it was Billy Corgan who got her into music — when one of Auf der Maur's friends famously threw a beer bottle at Corgan during a performance in Montreal. A fistfight fight ensued, and the teenage girl apologized to Corgan "on behalf of the city of Montreal." A friendship formed, Corgan later recommended Auf der Maur to Courtney Love, and thus began MadM's wild ride.

Auf der Maur comes to the Coolidge Corner Theatre Thursday, October 21, in support of a multi-media project that includes a CD and a movie, both called Out of Our Minds (OOM). She'll introduce the film, take questions from the audience, and play a short semi-acoustic set with her trio that's getting ready to tour Europe.

The film is an exquisitely photographed (by Auf der Maur's boyfriend, the director Tony Stone) 28-minute no-dialogue Lynchian Norse myth/contemporary fantasy fable with throbbing soundtrack and Auf der Maur as a modern woman who gets into a car wreck and enters a parallel world of Vikings and witches, a (literal) bleeding heart, and a lush New England forest whose trees tend to bleed when loggers cut them down. The album is lush, metal-tinged rock, that includes a roster of guest stars, including Glenn Danzig, making his first appearance on someone else's album.

I really enjoyed "Father's Grave." Did Danzig write that or did you write it for him?
I wrote it for Glen Danzig as a gift. I wrote it to a mythological hero of mine. Since I was 16 years old I always wanted to meet him — "One day I'll meet my hero!" I was a very shy girl and someone like him seemed like a mythological Viking character and I thought, "If only I had a little more Danzig in me I'd have the balls to go do something in my life!" I always looked to him as an inspiration.

Years later when was living in Los Angeles and was in Hole, I actually lived not far from him, and I used to slow my 1969 Cougar way down when I passed his house in hopes that I'd one day meet him. Never did. Always heard that he was unapproachable and hard to find. And I'd had this dream of a duet — the extreme of the fair, red-haired maiden and the dark warrior. And everyone told me no way, he's never guest-appeared on anybody's record, it's not going to happen. So making this record, as a songwriter I did things I'd never done before. I wrote "22 below" on one finger on a piano. Another song is on an autoharp. And I'd never written a song for anyone else. So I wrote him this song and I came up with the story of the healing grave digger. He has the power to heal this young woman who had lost her father, by simply walking her through the rainy grave yard and bringing her to the place where he placed her father.

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  Topics: Jazz , Music, Billy Corgan, David Lynch,  More more >
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