MILAN, Italy -- In what would be one of the most fiery teamings in music history, the always irascible Courtney Love said she's in the planning stages of a potential collaboration with the single-minded and ever-unflappable pop diva Madonna.
Before stepping away from the 40-minute press question-and-answer session at Milan's Principe di Savoia hotel last week, Love, leader of the post-grunge rock band Hole, dropped the surprising news. The collaboration between the media-savvy Love and that other darling of the flashbulb-popping set, Madonna, would certainly be a musical first, not to mention a paparazzi's dream.
"We're in the e-mail process," Love said. "We've been sending each other some messages. She had an idea I didn't like, but mine is better."
Love, who revealed virtually nothing about the nature of the project, said that the collaboration would likely happen at some point but that both artists have to be satisfied with it. Madonna and Love share the same management firm, New York-based Q Prime.
"I'm sure we'll make something together," Love added. "It has to be what she wants, but it has to be what I want. I'm sure we'll find a middle way."
When Love first entered the lounge of the five-star hotel, surrounded by bodyguards shouting, "Sorry! Sorry!" the crowd of Italian journalists had already been milling around for more than two hours.
The July 22 conference had been delayed with no official explanation.
Accompanied by her bandmates, guitarist Eric Erlandson and bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, Love had come to Italy to talk about Hole's first album in four years, Celebrity Skin (Sept. 8). Drummer Patty Schemel dropped out of the tour earlier this month and was not present. "She's dealing with some personal problems," Love would later explain.
Before they were allowed into the conference, every journalist had to sign a form agreeing not to ask questions related to Love's late husband and Nirvana leader, Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994; her estranged father, Hank Harrison; or any "half truth" or rumor about the personal life of any of the bandmembers.
Upon Love's entrance, reporters were surprisingly silent. Finally, the ever-animated bandleader, who has spent the past few years working on building her acting career as well as writing new songs, addressed the crowd, shouting, "Come on, guys, ask some questions or we'll go shopping!"
Dressed in a red velvet vest, with glimmering streaks in her hair, she maintained an impatient tone throughout the conference. At one point, she even addressed a journalist who was trying to explain a question by shouting loudly, "You and me just, we just don't understand each other!"
Asked to discuss her four-year absence from the music scene after the release of Live Through This in 1994, she said, "I had some personal problems, didn't I? We toured for a year and a half. [The album] took nine months to write it -- as long as it takes to have a baby -- and another nine months to record it."
In her unique, free-flow style of speech, Love also made clear how proud she is of her new album. "It is a sort of a natural evolution. We're a rock band. We just don't say, 'OK, techno going on. Let's make techno.' This is an American thing to do: This is the trendy new thing. This is very organic. This album is about rock and it is about the progression of rock. We want to write great hooks without compromising lyrics."
Love tried to clear any lingering doubt about the much-discussed contribution of Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan, who co-wrote the new album's title track, as well as "Hit So Hard," "Dying" and "Malibu." "Billy worked on it for 12 days, and the whole record took a year and a half to record, so that's it," Love said.
She added, "I like to sleep with boys, I don't like to work with them. I wish I had a female band. When I was looking for a guitar player, the ad I put said, 'prefer female.'
But then Eric [Erlandson] was the first to answer, and he had this great playing and this ability to arrange. I wish he had tits, but that's OK."