Interview With Eric Erlandson, Former Hole Guitarist

Interview from April 14, 2010, reposting it since we moved to a new host and lost everything.

With Courtney Love’s resurrection of the Hole name and the upcoming release of Nobody’s Daughter, many fans have criticized Courtney’s use of the Hole name without founding member and former lead guitarist Eric Erlandson.  Erlandson was an integral member of Hole, he wrote the majority of the music on Hole’s albums in the 90’s.  In this interview Erlandson gives his in-depth thoughts on Courtney Love’s new Hole for the very first time.  Enjoy this interview with one of the most underrated guitarists of the 90’s!

What led to Hole’s 2002 break up? It seemed like with only three records there was so much more to accomplish.

Eric Erlandson:
Top Ten Reasons Why Bands Break Up:
1. Lead Singer Disease
2. Drugs
3. Lawsuits with the Record Company, and the band’s Fans
4. Unreasonable Foot-shooting
5. Boyfriend/Girlfriend Enablers
6. Bass player quits and joins the Smashing Pumpkins
7. Good ol’ fashioned Greed
8. Guitar Player wakes up, then falls back to sleep
9. Karpman Drama Triangle/victim abuser savior roles
10. Music industry bottom-feeders, Howard Stern, all of the above. Oh, and did I mention drugs?

No, but seriously…Courtney, with her boyfriend at the time, (who happened to be our A&R rep), decided to take on the evils of the corporate record industry and sued Geffen/Interscope. Geffen counter-sued for reneging on our contract. This all began in 1999 when Courtney called it quits in the middle of our Celebrity Skin tour, just when we began to have some success at radio and were finding our stride as a headlining live act. My name was on the Geffen contract, so I was drawn into the case. I helped negotiate a settlement in 2002. About the same time Courtney and I signed an agreement putting Hole to rest. 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. 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.

How difficult was it to go on with Hole in 1994 after Kristen Pfaff and Kurt Cobain’s tragic deaths? Did you ever consider calling it quits?

Eric: Everything felt gray. There was a moment when I entered that tunnel of despair and barely got out myself. Continuing with Hole was the last thing on my mind after so much tragedy. But “Live Through This”, which had just been released, had a life of its own, and propelled me onward. A subconscious mantra and presence. It really lived up to its name. And my relationship with Drew put much needed brightness back in my life.

How was it working with Billy Corgan on Celebrity Skin?  How much credit do you think he deserves for it?

Eric: I’ve never heard him say anything about it. I appreciate all his help and learned a lot from working those few days with him. His involvement was about 12 days total and the record took about a year and a half to complete. He didn’t produce it or executive produce it. He played bass on one song and helped write a few others. The amazing part was the fact that he, Courtney and I were able to work together at all. Courtney and I were in a personal relationship up until mid 1991. She immediately began dating Billy during the breakup. And then she jumped to Kurt a few months later. Somehow we were able to let go of the drama of the past and sit in a room together and create. A miracle.

What was your reaction to Courtney deciding to resurrect the Hole name? Also thoughts on her saying, “Hole is my band” and her rants about you on Twitter.

Eric: John Cage once said, “Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.” Well, what happened is that I was a co-founder and principal of the band Hole, end of story. I was disappointed when I first heard about her decision to use the name. But her management convinced me that it was all hot air and that she would never be able to finish her album. Now I’m left in an uncomfortable position. Bands have become nothing more than brands and the music suffers. Enjoy your Cheese Whiz kids. As for social networking rants: I really don’t take anything on Twitter or Facebook seriously. I’m so grateful to Courtney for all her slander. I’ve expiated boatloads of negative karma due to her loving influence in my life. But I’ll tellya, I must’ve been a bad, bad boy in previous existences.

How did you end up settling the issue over the name? Courtney mentioned there was a financial settlement of some sort.

Eric: We haven’t settled the issue. There’s been no financial settlement. I’m sure what she meant to say is that she hoped for a settlement in the future. But nothing’s happened yet. Courtney and her management continue to roll along with their plans to, in my opinion, ruin the Hole legacy, just for some cheap thrills. I wish they would learn from Billy and Axl and Aerosmith and the hundreds of other bands who’ve made the same mistake. But a paycheck is a paycheck. I know this will all pass.

How is your personal relationship with Courtney today?

Eric: I have no idea what it’s like to live a single day in her shoes. I try to focus on the beautiful, strong, courageous soul inside her and not get caught up in the debris of the outer shell. I hope someday she’ll be in a good place and be able to see our time together in a new light.

Have you seen any video footage of Courtney’s new Hole lineup? Do you think that they are doing the name justice? Also have you heard the new single Skinny Little Bitch?

Eric: I’m really disappointed with the musical direction she’s chosen since Celebrity Skin. If I was involved in her first solo project I would’ve had her doing a raw garage-rock rave up type album. To me, her new solo album sounds like a Celebrity Skin knockoff with the same style production, 10 years after the fact. What’s with so-called rock music these days? I’m sorry, but if your parents can stand it, it’s not rock. How many stale rock riffs played by ambiguous hacks can there be? Any magic that was a part of the Hole sound is gone. True, a lot of younger fans won’t be able to tell the difference. Compared to Disney rock this fake Hole stuff looks like the real deal. I had a fan telling me that it’s way better than Celebrity Skin. I beg to differ. Don’t be fooled by the high fructose corn syrup! And about those lyrics. I know Courtney can write good lyrics. It’s one of her strong points. But it’s 2010. Do we really need to hear a 45 year old woman screaming “Skinny Little Bitch?” Is that where we’re at now? I’m sad that after all her feminist posturing she’s reduced herself to a cartoon fronting an all male sycophant leather-clad backing band with top hats and Les Pauls. This is not what the real Hole was about. She’s turning more and more into an Axl like character. You become what you rebel against, I suppose. Or maybe it was always there and I was too blind to see it.

Do you see a real Hole reunion with you, Courtney, and Melissa ever happening after Courtney’s recent actions?

Eric: Courtney’s adamant about never doing a reunion. It won’t happen until she changes her mind and a few other things. Now that her album is being released as Hole, in my opinion, the legacy is ruined. I’m moving on.

What is your favorite Hole song?

Eric: I still enjoy playing Violet after all these years. 20 years in the Dakota brings back memories. I’m still a fan of our Pretty on the Inside album.

Any new bands you are currently digging, what have you been listening to a lot lately?

Eric: I like the energy of some new underground bands like Death Sentence Panda, Lucky Dragons, Abe Vigoda. Not listening to any one thing these days. A little new, a little old. Seeking out the gems that transcend this age of mediocrity.

A few years ago you were in a band called RRIICCEE with controversial writer/director Vincent Gallo, what led to your split with him and how did you enjoy being in RRIICCEE? Also, what’s with the name?

Eric: Rich Radical Illuminati Infidels Cryptically Controlling Eric Erlandson
I had a good time playing with Vincent. It was improvised music, no genre, no jamming, no old riffs, like composing live in front of an audience naked or wearing a dress. We fell apart at times, but when it all came together it was beautiful. I had to move on and learn to be my own leader, so to speak.

Any thoughts on Melissa auf der Maur’s new solo record? Would you consider playing a few shows with her?

Eric: I love Melissa’s new album and film. She’s a rare bird. And she has a top notch backing band live.

Are you working on any musical projects? I noticed recently that you were working on I’d love to hear you do a solo album.

Eric: Yes, new musical projects in the works. My main focus now is a book I’ve written that will be released this year.

  • fattymeats

    DUDE!! This is so cool, im excited to read Eric’s book!! I hope he puts out a record. The new “Hole” needs him more than he needs them, he shreds.. more than that 20 somtehing year old micko larkin can ever dream of doing so.

  • Kelly

    Eric sounds like a very intelligent, kind, and reasonable person who finds a way to be blatantly honest without relinquishing the option of forgiveness.

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  • Heath Daniels

    Eric reunites with HOLE drummer Patty Schemel for an all-star concert at the LA premiere of her documentary, HIT SO HARD.

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  • Anna M

    Very pleased with this interview. Sounds like a decent guy.