Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Hole's Bluesfest show this past July was an unquestionable success garnering positive reviews from all. Courtney Love and the new band members put on a noteworthy show, pandering to Live Through This fans and showcasing tracks off Nobody's Daughter. As skilled as Micko Larkin is (give a listen to the Love/Larkin penned Skinny Little Bitch), I miss Eric Erlandson. In my opinion it's not really "Hole" without him, contrary to Love's assertion of "my name, my band." The history between Erlandson and Love is lengthy and their partnership ends awkwardly. Their tumultuous tale kindled thoughts of other musical pairs each with their own complicated kinship. Sisters, lovers and friends are just some of the combinations that make up this post on musical duos.

The two met in 1989 when Love posted an ad for a guitarist in the now defunct Los Angeles fanzine Flipside. The pair recorded Hole's caustic no wave debut, Pretty On the Inside, along with Caroline Rue and Jill Emery. The 1991 album, produced by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, generated positive reviews and secured Hole a contract with Geffen Records. Love would later fight the contract and encourage other artists to do the same.
Four days after the death of Kurt Cobain Live Through This was released, which saw Patty Schemel and Kristen Pfaff replacing Rue and Emery. Live Through This has sold over two million copies and was voted best album of 1994 by Rolling Stone and Spin. The liner notes reveal that all songs on the album were written by Love/Erlandson except Credit in the Straight World (by Stuart Moxham of Young Marble Giants), I Think That I Would Die (with former Babes in Toyland band mate Kat Bejelland) and Doll Parts, which Love wrote solo. Love is a gifted lyricist yet Doll Parts features some of the simplest guitar work on the album, it's a sound song but its melody is sparse. It's obvious that Erlandson's fingers hammered out the majority of the punk rock riffs on Live Through This fans have come to cherish.
Erlandson was dating bassist Pfaff at the time of her heroin overdose in 1994. Sadly Erlandson discovered her lifeless body. She was replaced by Canadian Melissa Auf Der Maur at Billy Corgan's suggestion.
1998's Celebrity Skin was recorded during the height of Love's film career, which netted her awards from the Boston, New York, Florida and Chicago Film Critic Societies plus a Golden Globe nomination for The People Vs. Larry Flynt. In 2005 Erlandson posted messages online commenting on the Celebrity Skin recording sessions, writing that Love "didn't care about playing her instrument" and focused solely on singing and song writing. Celebrity Skin was nominated for four Grammy Awards including Best Rock Album. The liner notes would lead the reader to believe that Corgan, who was brought in as a consultant, had a heavy hand in writing the music. Some music writers even say that Corgan pioneered the Celebrity Skin sound, however Erlandson maintains that Corgan was only involved for a few weeks (in one interview he claims eight days, in another he states fourteen days) and the tracks Malibu and Dying were almost complete when Corgan came aboard. Erlandson also revealed that Schemel, while credited in the liner notes, did not record any material and was replaced by Samantha Maloney. Maloney would go on to bash out beats for Motley Crue, Peaches and Eagles of Death Metal.
Love/Erlandson officially separated creatively in 2002, essentially ending Hole as Auf Der Maur had already moved on to Smashing Pumpkins and solo work.
In an interview with, Erlandson said the problems began when Love started having doubts about the band's future during the Celebrity Skin tour (which I caught at Edgefest '99.) As Erlandson's name appeared on the Geffen contract, he helped negotiate a settlement.
"In the agreement, she agreed that she would not use the name Hole commercially without my approval, she was intent on using her name at that point, figuring it had more value than the name Hole," Erlandson said.
"To be fair, we had grown apart and chosen different paths. I had put so much energy into the band for over 10 years and I needed to spend time on myself. When Melissa left, I couldn’t put humpty dumpty back together again, no matter how hard I tried. All signs were pointing toward a split. It’s fitting now that the last song we released was a cover of “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” I wish we could’ve done more together. But I’m happy we went out on a high."
Love shot back at Erlandson's comments, making accusations of financial misdoings via Twitter, writing:
"MY Band MY name and MY Tradmark (sic) he also might want to check his TAXES versus my redone Taxes on a bogus ssn, and talk to @PerezHilton's."
From finding each other through a fanzine to their fiery falling out, the Love/Erlandson duo appears to be fractured forever. "Now that her album is being released as Hole, in my opinion, the legacy is ruined. I’m moving on," Erlandson said with finality.

Hole - Plump (Love/Erlandson) from Live Through This 

Carrie Brownstein/Corin Tucker
Sleater-Kinney's music is unique. Neither vocalist has a traditional singing style; Tucker usually caterwauls in a low vibrato while Brownstein's voice is sometimes child-like. Their lyrics are usually personal, politically charged and frequently feature feminist themes. These attributes, coupled with Brownstein's guitar goddess skills, prompted Greil Marcus to bestow Sleater-Kinney with the title of "America's best rock band" in a 2001 edition of Time magazine.
Brownstein/Tucker met in 1992 while attending Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Tucker was part of the riot grrrl band Heavens to Betsy at the time. Brownstein, inspired by the riot grrrl movement, formed queercore band Excuse 17. Initially a side project, when their respective bands broke up Sleater-Kinney became the duo's main focus. Janet Weiss (not that Janet Weiss) has been the primary drummer through out the band's history. The name Sleater-Kinney is derived from an off ramp near the band's early practice spot in Lacey, Washington.
The duo dated during the band's early days, eventually deciding they were better off as collaborators and friends. The track One More Hour off 1997's Dig Me Out is about Brownstein/Tucker's break up.
At 21 Brownstein, now an out lesbian, and Tucker, who identifies as bisexual, were outed by a writer at Spin.
"I hadn't seen it [the article] and I got a phone call. My dad called me and was like, 'The Spin article's out. Um, do you want to let me know what's going on?' The ground was pulled out from underneath me. My dad did not know that Corin and I had ever dated, or that I even dated girls."
After moderate indie success with their self-titled 1995 debut and 1996's Call the Doctor, it was Dig Me Out that proved to be Sleater-Kinney's breakthrough album and still lingers in recent memory for most music lovers. In 2005 Spin ranked the album #24 on it's list of "100 Greatest Albums 1985-2005."
Next came The Hot Rock in 1999 and All Hands on the Bad One the following year.
The band's most political record, 2002's One Beat, spoke directly of 9/11.
"[The attacks were] just such as an overwhelming presence in our minds as we were trying to write songs, that we felt that we really needed to deal with it, and that we really needed to write about it," Tucker said to the Standford Daily in 2002.
2005's The Woods would be Sleater-Kinney's last album and marked a shift into psychedelic, arena rock. When I caught them opening for Pearl Jam in 2005, I was only disappointed by the fact that they played The Woods in it's entirety and shot off nothing else from their well-stocked arsenal.
The decision to end Sleater-Kinney's run came mostly from Tucker's desire to spend time with her daughter and husband, filmmaker Lance Bangs. The band's final live appearance was August 12 2006 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon.
Since the disillusion Brownstein formed The Spells with Mary Timony and helms NPR blog Monitor Mix. She is also part of the comedy duo Thunder Ant with SNL's Fred Armisen. Look for Brownstein in the upcoming film Some Days Are Better Than Others opposite the Shins' James Mercer.
Tucker's new outfit, Corin Tucker Band, recently released an album titled 1000 Years. You can listen to the first single Doubt here.
As for the future, Brownstein says if each member can find the time to fully devote themselves, a reunion may occur.
"We spent 11 years committed to that band, heart and soul. I think it will happen. We have to loop around, and we're at the far end of the circle, away from the band, but I think we will come back and revisit it. And hopefully that record will be sometime in the next five years." Brownstein told Pitchfork in March 2010.

Sleater-Kinney - Jumpers (Brownstein/Tucker/Weiss) from The Woods
Brownstein discusses a Sleater-Kinney reunion

Sebastien Grainger/Jesse F. Keeler
Canadian duo Grainger/Keeler of Death From Above 1979 contrast our last duo of Brownstein/Tucker as they manipulated many instruments- but no guitars. Grainger handled bass and synths while Keeler commandeered percussion and sang lead on their dance-punk productions. It's not surprising that their raved up, throbbing feel good tunes have been featured in dozens of video games.
Forming in Toronto circa 2001, there are conflicting reports on how the two met. First the pair claimed they connected at a Sonic Youth concert but went on to play around with journalists and say they met in prison, or at a gay bar. 
Originally named Death From Above, Grainger/Keeler were forced to add 1979, which comes from Grainger's birth year, after James Murphy's label DFA Records legally protested. Murphy, also known as LCD Soundsystem, created the label in 2001. After 9/11 he was asked to change the name of the label from Death From Above Records to the shortened version. Grainger/Keeler publicly denounced Murphy on their website.
However, Murphy claims it was parent label Atlantic who insistently objected.
"I was like, 'What the hell's wrong with Death From Above 1979?' But the copyright attorney was like, 'No, that's not fine.' And I said, 'If they become a totally different name, and it delays their record, that's something I'm not comfortable with.' So we just tried to make it work as well as possible," Murphy said.
DFA 1979 produced one studio album, 2004's You're a Woman, I'm a Machine. The cover and all variation covers feature distinguishing art showing Grainger/Keeler with elephant trunks. Recorded at the Chemical Sound in Toronto and Montreal's Studio Plateau, the album achieved gold status in Canada.
During the You're a Woman, I'm a Machine tour, Grainger/Keeler began to increasingly clash creatively and grew apart. Last Gang Records hoped the duo would re-consider continuing on with the band but Grainger made it clear in a 2006 online message.
"We decided to stop doing the band. Actually we decided that almost a year ago. We finished off our scheduled tour dates because there were good people working for us who relied on us to make a living and buy Christmas presents and pay rent etc. We couldn't just cancel everything and leave them out to dry," Grainger wrote.
Keeler now performs and records with A-IP, Alex Puodziukas who produced DFA 1979's album, as MSTRKRFT. As MSTRKRFT they have remixed songs by everyone from Katy Perry to Gossip. Their 2009 album Fist of God, was met with mixed reviews.
"I expect a lot of people to not like the record," Keeler said. "Anyway, I love bad reviews, they’re my favourite things."
Grainger formed Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains after DFA 1979's demise. Grainger played nearly every instrument on the self-titled 2008 album. The LP Yours to Discover appeared in 2010. Grainger's new project, Bad †i†s with Josh Reichmann of Tangiers, has released an EP and performed a handful of shows.
It's doubtful Grainger/Keeler will reunite. We'll always have the frantic piece of audible art that is You're A Woman, I'm A Machine to remind us that gratifying, intense things usually end in an explosion. Here's hoping Grainger/Keeler will one day rise above their differences and turn it out once more.

Death From Above 1979 - Go Home, Get Down (Grainger/Keeler) from You're A Woman, I'm a Machine

Kim Deal/Frank Black
The story behind the duo of Deal/Black is fraught with passive-aggressive tension and envy. Pixies formed in 1986, when Black and guitarist Joey Santiago met while studying at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Black and Santiago posted an ad in a Boston music paper looking for a bassist who liked "Husker Du and Peter, Paul and Mary." Kim Deal was the only one to respond. After the initial meeting, Black turned to Santiago and said "she's it." Deal didn't have a bass but her twin Kelley did, so Black paid for Deal's airfare to Ohio to retrieve Kelley's bass. Black was also keen on recruiting Kelley to play drums for the band but Kelley was reluctant. Instead Deal's husband John Murphy, Deal would sometimes be credited as Mrs. John Murphy, suggested percussionist Dave Lovering who the couple had met at their wedding reception. 
The name Pixies was chosen by a random flip through the dictionary. First called Pixies in Panoply, it was later shortened.
Pixies recorded The Purple Tape in three days in 1986 at a cost of $1000 and released it to interested parties, finally landing with 4AD.  Eight songs from The Purple Tape were selected for their first official release, the Come on Pilgrim EP.
In 1988 came their, now seminal, first full length release Surfer Rosa. Producer Steve Albini would later be sought out by the likes of Nirvana and PJ Harvey based on his work on Surfer Rosa. Surfer Rosa features one of only two writing credits in the band's discography for Deal, the loud-quiet-loud implementing Gigantic.
Doolittle, released in 1989, was produced by Gil Norton and cost four-times more than Surfer Rosa. NME writers voted Doolittle the #2 greatest album of all time. The album continued to sell over 1000 copies a week more than ten years after it's release. Doolittle contains the other Deal/Black written song, Silver.  
One night on stage during the Doolittle tour, Black reportedly threw a guitar at Deal and the cracks of conflict began to fracture the foursome. 
"It's fair to say that Kim's partying and tardiness led to the break up," booking agent Jeff Craft said in 2004.
During the break after the "Fuck or Fight" Doolittle tour, Deal formed The Breeders with Throwing Muses member Tanya Donnelly. Kurt Cobain called The Breeders' 1991 debut, Pod, "an epic that will never let you forget your ex-girlfriend."
Pixies regrouped for 1990's Bossanova, but not before some rivalries were put to rest. Black, Lovering and Santiago had all moved to Los Angeles without informing Deal. 
"I called up Charles [Black's birth name] to find out when we were going to rehearse and he said 'I don't want you to come out," Deal recalled in 2004.
Deal contacted reps at 4AD who urged her to fly out to L.A. and reason with the other members.
"I was so sad, I flew out there on my own," Deal said. "It was so weird taking a flight all by myself, booking my own hotel room. Then I get a call from the manager. Me and him had never talked. It was weird. He said 'You are to meet here the next day.' I go, 'Ok.' I still have no fucking idea what's going on. It's a lawyer's office! David, Joe and Charles are there with our manager and our lawyer. And I walk in- it's like, 'Ohhh, I'm fired.' It was so hurtful, it was odd, it was akward."
Fortunately, Pixies set aside their differences and while Bossanova was met with mixed reviews, the album produced two of their biggest radio hits, Dig For Fire and Velouria.
At the last show of Pixies' English tour supporting Bossanova, Deal announced "this is our last show."
However it would not be their last show, as Trompe Le Monde was released in 1991.
Norton produced Trompe Le Monde and noticed that Deal's presence diminished over time.
"I wasn't happy by the end of that [Trompe Le Monde], because there was this one song, Bird Dream of Olympus Mons, that I thought was perfect for her to sing. Charles didn't want her to sing it. He definitely didn't want her to have a big imprint on the songs," Norton said in 2004.
In January 1993 Black notified the band members of the break up. The medium Black used to communicate the message is a source of contention.
"It's not really that big of a deal and sending a fax to break up a band is not that big of a deal," Black said.
To that comment, Deal counterpoints: "I didn't have a fax machine. Joe didn't have a fax machine. David didn't have a fax machine. Whatever, man."
After the dismantling of Pixies, Black changed his name and released several solo records, most notably 1994's Teenager of the Year which contains the popular track Headache. Deal went on to large success with The Breeders' Last Splash. Title TK would appear in 2002. Lovering became a magician and Santiago formed The Martinis with his wife Linda Mallari. 
Then in 2003 whispers of a reunion entered every one's ears.
"Joe calls me up and says 'Pixies are gonna start playing shows, would you be interested?' I said, 'Oh really?' then I went 'I don't know,'" Deal said. "And he said, 'Here's Charles' number. He wants you to call him.' I left him a message saying 'I hear the gang's getting back together.' I hadn't talked to him since April of 1992. And he called back and said, 'So what do you think about it?' I said, 'Sounds interesting.'"
The Pixies "Sellout" tour did just that, selling out large stadiums and arenas all over the world. Pixies released one new track, which was rejected by executives for the Shrek 2 soundtrack, Bam Thwok. Deal penned Bam Thwok solo, evidence that Black's stranglehold over the band has lessened during the hiatus. 
Talk of a new record continues to go in circles and the band is currently on a world tour that stopped in Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The tour culminates September 26 in California.
"Now I see Kim as our secret weapon," Black said. "She's like, 'Hi,' and the crowd goes crazy. I don't even talk on stage anymore."
"The good thing is now we don't have to have a dynamic, because all we do is travel to a place and people are happy that we're there. We're not working together. This is not a hard thing to do," Deal said. 

Pixies - Gigantic (Deal/Black) from Surfer Rosa

Pixies - Silver (Deal/Black) from Doolittle

BT photo


No comments:

Post a Comment