Fury Things covering Hole is another Girl Germs Live Tribute to Women in Rock match made in heaven. At first, it might seem odd that a group of three dudes who named themselves after a Dinosaur Jr. song would have been influenced by a feminist and riot grrrl icon like Courtney Love. But when you really consider the music, especially the evolution of her noise rock-turned-grunge/punk-turned-power pop project over the years, it makes perfect sense.
Devon and Kyle from Fury Things gave us some insight into how Hole influenced them, what they love about the band and a testament to why the oft-maligned Ms. Love deserves more credit than she’s received in Nirvana’s shadow.
How they were influenced by Courtney Love and Hole:
Devon: The ’90s was when I started my first band and learned to play guitar (in that order), and I had lots of favorite records to which I’d practice along. Live Through This was a big one for me, I used to love playing to “Gutless,” “Rock Star,” “She Walks On Me,” their cover of “Credit In The Straight World.” The main riff for “Violet” was one of the earliest things I taught myself by ear. A few years
later, when Celebrity Skin came out, I wasn’t practicing along to records so much as absorbing production techniques, and that record’s best songs (“Hit So Hard,” “Malibu,” “Reasons To Be Beautiful”) are still in heavy rotation on my Spotify and iPod all these years later. Those two records were huge for me, because they were full of really good rock and roll songs that had more wit and bile than most everything else on the radio at the time.
Kyle: As a [now] 21-year-old, I was never directly influenced by Hole. Growing up, I definitely heard songs like “Celebrity Skin” on the radio, and even as a young’un I definitely connected with them without knowing it. They were definitely top-of-mind when it came to picking a singular artist to cover. Despite not being influenced directly by them, I think I share similar songwriting sensibilities with Hole. I’m a sucker for a good pop song.
Their favorite things about the band:
Kyle: For me, the immediacy and attitude definitely draw me to Hole. They made loud, sloppy, attitude-filled pop songs about gender and femininity and pulled absolutely no punches. Especially in the Celebrity Skin era, Hole is grunge through a Californian lens. That album, in particular, expertly sits on the fence somewhere between arena-ready pop and snarling “grrrl” attitude. It hits at almost everything I love about rock music.
Why you should know about Hole and why they’re important:
Devon: Why should everyone know about Hole? Because they made some enduring rock records full of great songs. Why are they important/remembered? For reasons other than the music. For Superchunk, their musical legacy will always be overshadowed by the story of Merge Records, and for Hole, the quality of their songwriting will always be overshadowed by who Courtney Love was and is.
She was aggressive and sexy and smart and a fucked-up loser and a Hollywood power icon and a junkie and a mother and an actress and all these things dialed up to 100. Arguably, at some point she may have lost sight of the divide between putting on a show and being a spectacle, but to strip all of that away and simply look at those songs and those records, they have so much blood coursing through their veins that they hold up WAY better than most of her contemporaries’.
Kyle: If you take away the egos of those in the band and look at Hole holistically, there’s a lesson to be learned about self-expression and the courage to not take shit from anyone. Courtney Love once prefaced a version of “Violet” on Later…With Jools Holland by saying something to the effect of, “This song’s about a jerk. I hexed him.” For a female artist to be that upfront, unapologetic and confident in the face of a relatively male-dominated rock culture, we can’t forget it. More than that, though, Hole wraps up this attitude in a package that’s relatively accessible. The attitude borders on militant, but the songs themselves are anything but. Hole’s a case study in using catchy, memorable songs to raise awareness of contemporary issues.
The best era of Hole’s career:
Devon: I’d actually say Celebrity Skin, because I think it’s kind of a flawless pop record, big and brash and interestingly produced and yet still dark and pained beneath the surface. “Hit So Hard” is one of my probably top 25 or so songs, everything about it gets me every time.
Kyle: I’m a huge fan of Live Through This. It’s brutally honest (like all of their albums), but there’s more polish than Pretty on the Inside and less polish than Celebrity Skin. It’s expertly crafted, yet with plenty of good variety in the tunes to warrant multiple listens.