We met Patty Schemel at South by Southwest earlier this year, midway through a week of no sleep when she arrived to premiere the documentary based on her life, Hit So Hard: The Life And Near Death Story of Patty Schemel. We got to ask the former Hole drummer some personal questions about the revealing film, and find out what’s going on with her these days.
Crave Online: How much sleep did you get on the road?
Patty Schemel: It varied a lot. When we were traveling, after a while I got used to sleeping on the bus and that kind of stuff, sleeping in transit. The whole body clock just flips around. It’s a big build up to two hours of your time, which is the show. You have all that adrenaline, and then releasing that after the show was tough. You’re still on that sort of wired vibe of the show.
Crave Online: Were you able to work on new creative things during the intense times, or was it just about maintaining?
Patty Schemel: Back in the day? We would do all of our songwriting a lot during sound check. An idea would come up and then you’d kind of do some writing then. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot of songwriting in between shows. That happened when we were home.
Crave Online: What are we going to get to see in Hit So Hard?
Patty Schemel: Hit So Hard is a collection of about 40 hours compiled down to this hour and a half movie. What it is is I had this box full of hi-8 video that I filmed while I was touring for a year, an entire year of a Hole tour. It’s all the backstage stuff, personal stuff between me and Melissa and Erik and Courtney, some stuff with Kurt never before seen.
My original goal with it was a friend told me, “You have to digitize this to preserve it.” That was all I wanted to do with it was get it digitized so it wouldn’t disintegrate. So I spoke to a friend of mine, David Ebersole, about how do I do that? He’s explaining it to me and I was like, “Can you just do it for me?” He was like, “Sure, sure.” I trusted him with it because I hadn’t looked at a whole lot of it in a long time and it was just kind of away in a closet and I was always like I’ll get to it at some point. It was one thing that had lasted, that I‘d carried through all the ups and downs since the band, the craziness.
So David was looking at it while he was dubbing it and he was like, “you know, this is really great stuff. There’s a story here.” So I sat down with him and over a summer, we looked at all the footage and I explained what each scene was and what was going on. He pieced together a movie, a documentary. What it is is the tour, backstage stuff, at home stuff and then the story of what happened. The way it was, what happened and the way it is today.
Crave Online: So it branches off from your footage?
Patty Schemel: Yes, because there was that footage and then there was some rough times with drug addiction. Also the path that my life took after I got clean and sober in recovery and where it is now. So it’s basically that story.
Crave Online: Have you ever played Austin?
Patty Schemel: Yeah, with Hole. I did a tour with Imperial Teen and we played Austin.
Crave Online: What are your favorite venues here?
Patty Schemel: I like Emo’s, it’s great. Stubb’s.
Crave Online: Were those your favorites to play or attend?
Patty Schemel: To play and attend. Emo’s just has great bands. You could see quite a varied kind of music. Stubb’s is just kind of the place you play here. It’s like everybody plays there.
Crave Online: Do you like the idea that people are playing along to your songs in Rock Band?
Patty Schemel: Yes. That’s cool. I like that someone, wherever it is, is playing drums to the Rock Band version of Celebrity Skin.
Crave Online: Have you ever tried it?
Patty Schemel: No. I’ve only done the Guitar Hero.
Crave Online: Pros say they can’t play the game version.
Patty Schemel: Yeah, because it’s not really [the real beats.] I think I could figure it out. It would be fun. I can’t say I wouldn’t like it because I don’t know yet.
Crave Online: With systems like Pro Tools, do you see opportunities in those musically?
Patty Schemel: Yeah. Right now I’m doing a situation where we did a lot of recording. My band actually started out as a two piece and now is a three piece. We built the songs in the studio, string section, piano part, bass part. So to play these songs live, I’d have to play along to a click track with the tracks so that we have actual tracks that come out of a computer. So we all played and play along to our tracks.
Crave Online: Do you use that as a temp until you do the drum tracks?
Patty Schemel: That’s the track you hear. You can make a whole string section come out of your bedroom which is awesome.
Crave Online: You never had to do Q&A for music.
Patty Schemel: No, I never had to do that. You never really have to stay after the show and answer questions. This time around, this is my story. It’s easy to answer the questions because it’s my story.
Crave Online: Is it a discussion you look forward to?
Patty Schemel: No. I mean, I do as in this is the story. I’ve told it in the film. It’s here to see. It’s the documentary. It’s always uncomfortable to talk about yourself.
Crave Online: When you form new bands with different groups of people, how do you know each time, what draws you to people each time?
Patty Schemel: After a while, first of all it was to pay my bills. Then it was a mutual love for the same kind of music. I don’t pay my bills with music anymore so now it’s just about having a good time and playing drums. That’s basically what it’s like.
Crave Online: Do you like the idea that we can download any song we want anywhere we are?
Patty Schemel:: I do. It’s a quick way to get your music to your people. And also, I can put a song out tomorrow and I can say whatever I want in it and no one’s going to censor me or take part of my song. If I decide I want to make people pay a quarter for my song, I get that whole quarter. I’m using an example.
Crave Online: Does it put more pressure on you to make an entire album worth downloading, so people don’t just buy the one song they like?
Patty Schemel: Right, right. Yeah, well you’d think that maybe your one or two songs are good enough to make people want to hear the rest of it. I’m kind of going through that right now with this band I’m in called Psychic Friend. We have two songs that we’re like well, should we just put them up for free on our Facebook? And yeah, we did. So we have a whole bunch of other stuff that can, we’ve just started to go in the studio, so there are songs you can listen to for free and then go out and find the rest.