Interview: Melissa Auf der Maur

By JON GARELICK  |  October 14, 2010

And I thought, "Well, that seems like an honorable role — the healing grave digger. I think he could accept that." So I did something I'd never done, which is write a six-minute blues standard almost, a funeral dirge. And I remember closing my eyes and thinking, "How would Danzig tell this story?" I know his solo records really well, so I summoned his songwriting style, made a demo singing both my part and his part, and I wrote a very personal long letter about the impact he's had on me and the personal journey — myself of having lost my father. Lots of people have their own ways through the healing process [laugh]. And I thought if there's anyone who can help through this final stage of letting go, it could be my mythological hero from my youth.

So I wrote this in a letter and sent it to a PO box. Someone had told me he doesn't go through managers, he doesn't have email, just write him a letter. So I did and I left my phone number, and six months later my cell phone rang and [in a low voice]: "It's Danzig. I like your song."

And it was one of the most genuine, beautiful exchanges between me and another musician that I've ever had. Because there was not a legal or managerial conversation, it was purely: when do we set up the studio, let's record it. And that was it. And this is a total stranger. And he is a legend in his own right, and there was not ever the concern of, "How will you use my name?"

At the time, I was self-managed, which I still am actually, and without a label, and I was making this record myself, and I think he respected that, and he trusted that I was doing it for the right reasons, which is music. And then it turned out that my mythological hero ended up becoming . . . It's a cliché to say, "He's a real person." But in this case it really was inspiring to see that he is in fact a good independent-business role model for me. He's always been marching to his own drum and has had his own label and print houses, he has a comic book label. So he's good practical role model for me as well as a mythological, healing grave digger.

You were in two very big bands with bandleaders who had reputations for being very extreme. Can you talk about what it was like to play in those bands, and to work with Courtney Love and Billy Corgan as bandleaders — as bosses?
A lot of time has gone by, so my perspective has been reduced to a very simple life lesson. Even back then I referred to it as my education — my bachelors and my masters, or my masters and my PhD. The first one being my degree in Hole — even from the get-go, I knew it was less about music and more about what it is to be human, and lessons in compassion, tragedy, extreme emotion.

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