Courtney Love is trying on a dress and, in her words, "it's not going well." She's preparing to attend an event and is displeased with the fits of the rack of designer gowns she's been sent. "I have a feeling I'll just wear a T-shirt and say, 'what the fuck,'" she says. And this is exactly why I've always wanted to talk to Courtney Love. As others change and reinvent, Love evolves while remaining exactly who she's always been. She is who she is. No excuses. No apologies. Sure, she's matured over the years ("I don't punch anybody anymore"), but she's still Courtney Love, dangerously intelligent and insanely creative. Looking back at a time she punched a girl after one of her concerts, Love recalls, "It cost me 30 grand, but it was worth it. I just don't understand why people sue about it when they ask for it?"
A true force of nature -- and one of the only rock stars toting Keith Richards-level charisma - Love is back on the road, this time playing intimate shows in small venues. The "I'm Still Alive" tour will give die-hard Courtney Love fans a chance to see the rock goddess up close -- close enough to feel like they're her party guest. Though she remains on the scene with a fantastic new album -- and autobiography -- due out this Christmas, the "I'm Still Alive" tour will not feature any of her upcoming material. Some classic Hole and Courtney Love solo hits will be played, along with less commercially popular tracks from Love's catalog and some kick-ass cover tunes.
"When I originally planned on going on this tour, I thought that my new single would be out, but it's not," Love explains. "So, we're not going to be playing any new material. It's going to be fun because the people who are going to be coming to these shows are super-fans who know every word to every song, including Nobody's Daughter and America's Sweetheart, which are records that didn't necessarily sell. There are songs on those records that I play, and I enjoy those songs a lot. It's really sweet and nice when the fans come to these smaller venues and know every word."
"I play the songs that I like," Love continues. "I don't play 'Doll Parts.' I don't have a good relationship with that song. I don't know why. It just bores me. Every night my drummer says, 'Let's play "Doll Parts."' I'm like, 'play "Malibu."' I like 'Malibu.' I think it's a really good, standup song. Sometimes 'Celebrity Skin' bugs me. I didn't write the riff. I like the rest of the song, though, and I love the lyrics, so I can stomach it."
One of the many great things about Courtney Love is that you never know what's going to happen when you're in her orbit. Her edginess as an artist stems directly from her edginess as a person. You can't predict what she'll do or say, and this edge -- along with her boundless talents and forthright presence -- has kept just about everyone fascinated with her for the past two decades.
"We're doing this tour," Love says. "It's summer, and it gets me out of the house. What am I going to do, go to parties in the Hamptons and say, 'Hi, Mr. Spielberg?' I mean, please. I did that one summer, and it was absolutely boring. Just super-rich people. I think I wore white all summer. I mean, you can take me anywhere. I like having dinners with royalty and I like having dinners with scumbags."
Love's raw performing prowess is holding strong and she's enjoying her "I'm Still Alive" tour, but what's most vital to her is how well her upcoming album is going to be received.
"Music is not stable when you're still in alt rock," Love says. "Even though bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Vampire Weekend did really well this year, it's still a long shot, so I really have to be on my toes. My new songs are some of the best songs I've ever written. There's this one song, it's perfect Stooges-meets-Cheap Trick. It's fast, it's furious and it's nasty. It's just the perfect rock song."
"What's important to me," Love continues, "is getting back on the horse and riding, and getting to a place where I'm confident that the music I'm putting out is being heard by the most amount of people possible because it's an impossible position to be in when you put out something like Nobody's Daughter and no one has heard it. That was really devastating and heartbreaking, and that's a masterwork of a record. America's Sweetheart is not. It's embarrassing because I've never put out a crappy record, except for that one, which kind of proved to me that guys can put out crappy records, but chicks certainly can't. I have to put about three times more energy into it. But if I don't get new music out there and heard, I'm just going to pack up my pup tent and go live on the Thames somewhere and write poetry."
Courtney's publicist informs us that there's only time for one more question.
"Give him two," Love snaps. "I like him."
Pleasure soars through me, and I feel disproportionately proud of myself. The euphoria won't last, but I know I'll be speaking of this moment with other writers at times when the right amount of Jack Daniels kicks in.
I don't have any other questions planned, so I ask Courtney if she lives in New York? "I hate that question!" she yells. I ask, "why?"
"I've been living in New York since '09, and sometimes my reputation is a real pain in the ass," Love says with a laugh. "There was a house that I really wanted to rent, and they wanted a year's rent in advance, and a year security deposit! And my credit is fine! I mean, come on! What am I going to do? I don't even have parties. I'm so boring."