Synopses & Reviews
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 lead 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 twenty 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.
"The ex-Hole drummer lifts the veil on the punk mythos with an unsparing memoir, in which she chronicles industry sexism, her teenage coming out, her struggle with addiction, and her years on the road with Kurt and Courtney." Village Voice
Schemel's drums have always been a wake-up call, the punctuation that makes
serious 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 a
rock 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
"Often harrowing, frequently heartrending, and always
insightful, Hit So Hard is far more than rock myth-making or
a redemption story. In looking back unflinchingly at the literal highs and
crushing lows of her life, Schemel's yielded a complex, compellingly
readable memoir that possesses a truth and humanity few books of its kind ever
truly capture." Bob Mehr, New York Times bestselling author
of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements
"Patty Schemel has lived a million lives and come out
the other side. An amazing story, amazing book." Mark Lanegan
Hit So Hard begins in rock drummer Patty Schemel's teenage years with her growing up in the Pacific Northwest, realizing she is gay, and discovering her heavy identification with punk rock--as well as the beginnings of the alcoholism and drug addictions that would nearly kill her. Playing in a variety of local bands, her skills were noticed by another local musician, Kurt Cobain (he always maintained she was his favorite drummer), who recommended Patty to his soon-to-be wife Courtney Love. The three of them were housemates during the biggest years of Nirvana and Hole and were living together when Kurt and Courtney's daughter Francis Bean was born. If you've seen the HBO Cobain documentary Montage of Heck, most of the (painfully) candid home movie footage was shot by Patty.
Hit So Hard offers riveting insight into, and a front seat to, the Kurt and Courtney show, from the massive success of Nirvana and Hole, to Cobain's suicide, to the death of Hole's bassist Kristen Pfaff from a heroin overdose just two months later, as well as Hole's completely insane Live Through This world tour right after. Hit So Hard brings the reader into the eye of the storm that swirled around Courtney Love, an unpredictable, addicted, grieving, raw mess of emotions. Throughout all this, Patty's own addictions to alcohol and heroin grew exponentially, and she was eventually fired from the band, entered multiple rehabs, and found herself homeless, living under an L.A. freeway underpass, breaking into homes, scamming, and prostituting for drug money. It's a harrowing tale of rock 'n' roll highs and lows, and the story of her recovery is as inspiring as her fall was devastating.
About the Author
Patty Schemel is an American drummer, songwriter, and comedian best known for her work with the platinum selling band Hole. She is on the board of the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls in California, a non-profit organization that teaches girls all over the world that it's okay to be loud. She continues to perform, teach, and tour, currently with the band Upset, and lives in Los Angeles with her wife and daughter.