After months of seeming inactivity, grunge rockers Hole are back with a vengeance they're writing new songs, auditioning bassists, returning to rock radio with the song "Be a Man" and threatening to leave their longtime label and release their next album directly on the Internet.
Singer Courtney Love dropped that last bombshell on the syndicated Howard Stern radio program Thursday morning, during an appearance with the controversial shock jock, in which she also took aim at former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl.
Love, in New York to promote her role in the upcoming biopic of late comedian Andy Kaufman, "Man on the Moon," said on the show that her band is leaving Geffen Records. The singer said the group was planning to bolt in favor of releasing its next album on the Internet, according to John Babbitt of Second Vision Management, who would not comment further.
"We can confirm that the band was writing new material all last week in Los Angeles, and that they've auditioned a slew of bass players," Babbitt said. Former bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur currently a touring member of the Smashing Pumpkins left Hole in October after five years with the group.
Babbitt said Hole were ensconced in an undisclosed location in Hollywood writing material for their next LP, which they hope to begin recording in the new year.
Geffen Records spokesperson Dennis Dennehy would not comment on Love's threat. Dennehy said a Hole album is not currently on the label's release schedule, and when asked how many albums the group had left on its contract, Dennehy said he could not comment.
Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson and drummer Samantha Maloney performed with the more than 25 female bass players who made the first cut for the position, Babbitt said. The auditions, held Saturday and Sunday at a North Hollywood, Calif., rehearsal space, featured musicians from the U.S. and Canada, as well as a handful from Europe and one Japanese hopeful, he said.
Rebecca Icing (born Rebecca Walter), who sings and plays bass in the Washington, D.C., band Lava, tried out Saturday. She said she was asked to learn "Malibu" (RealAudio excerpt), "Celebrity Skin" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Violet" (RealAudio excerpt) but only got to play "Violet" and "Celebrity Skin.
"I was nervous out of my head, but they did their best to make me feel comfortable," she said. "Actually, they had a bottle of whiskey." She added that Erlandson complimented her on her stage name, "Icing."
She said the audition was a tall task without Love there to give the songs her acerbic vocals.
"Courtney was not there for the tryouts," Babbitt confirmed.
Hole, whose most recent album, 1998's glam-rock Celebrity Skin, spawned such radio hits as the title track and "Malibu," have recently returned to radio with a new single, "Be a Man" (RealAudio excerpt). The song, an outtake from the album, will be featured on the soundtrack to the upcoming football drama "Any Given Sunday," starring Al Pacino and rapper LL Cool J and directed by Oliver Stone ("JFK").
"They won't necessarily wait for a new bass player [to begin recording the album]," Babbitt said. "Courtney is promoting 'Man on the Moon' until the end of the month and they'll take the next couple of months after that to write and record the album." Babbitt said no producer has been chosen yet, but that the bandmembers have some "pretty strong ideas" about whom they would like to work with.
During the Stern appearance, Love known for taking down her top during concerts and hurling expletive-laced rants at the audience also lashed out at Foo Fighters leader Grohl, alleging that her late husband, Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain, disliked the time-keeper. "He hated his guts," Love said, later launching into what seemed like an impromptu song slagging Grohl.
The singer suggested the tune was a response to the new anti-Hollywood Foo Fighters song "Stacked Actors" (RealAudio excerpt), which Grohl reportedly told England's New Musical Express was about Love. A spokesperson for Grohl could not be reached by press time.