A stunningly candid and inspiring memoir of recovery from addiction and the '90s, by Hole drummer Patty Schemel
Patty Schemel was a drummer at the epicenter of the Seattle grunge scene in the early '90s, best known for her work with the alternative rock band Hole.
Hit So Hard begins with stories from a childhood informed by the AA meetings Schemel's parents hosted in the family living room. Their divorce triggered her rebellious adolescence and first forays into drinking at age 11, which coincided with her passion for punk rock and playing drums. Her efforts to come to terms with her sexuality further drove her memorably hard playing, and by the late '80s Schemel was performing regularly in well-regarded bands in Tacoma, Seattle, and Olympia. She met Kurt Cobain at a Melvins show, pre-Nirvana, and less than five years later she would be living with him and his wife, Hole front woman Courtney Love, at the height of his fame and on the cusp of hers. As Hole's new drummer, Schemel contributed memorable, driving drum parts to hits like "Beautiful Son", "Violet", "Doll Parts", and "Miss World". But the band was plagued by tragedy and addiction, and by the time Hole went on tour in support of their ironically titled and critically acclaimed album Live Through This in 1994, both Cobain and Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff were dead at age 27.
With surprising candor and wit, Schemel intimately documents the events surrounding her exit from the band in 1998 that led to her dramatic descent into a life of homelessness and crime on the streets of Los Angeles and the difficult but rewarding path to sobriety after over 20 serious attempts to get clean. Hit So Hard chronicles the extraordinary coming of age of a musician and an addict during the last great era of rock 'n' roll excess.
"Patty Schemel's drums have always been a wake-up call, the punctuation that makesserious the wild streams of punk consciousness her bands have expressed. This book is a wake-up call, too - a clearly considered, deeply honest look back at arock scene that's often been mourned but rarely truly understood. Schemel writes most honestly about herself: she spares nothing and no one as she traces the path of addiction as it intersects with the privileges and costs of young fame. A must-read about rock 'n' roll realities." (Ann Powers, NPR music critic and author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music)
"Reading about the myriad ways Hole drummer Patty Schemel - 'the best musician in that band' as her pal Kurt Cobain put it - brutalized herself with addiction can feel like a kind of sadistic experience. And yet, Hit So Hard feels ultimately uplifting and hopeful, in part because its author so fully and completely appreciates what she's survived in order to have written it. Hit So Hard is a harrowing but heartwarming read. Schemel's made the years she got that others didn't count. And it shows." (Lizzy Goodman, author of Meet Me in theBathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011)
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