hole guitarist announces twisted orchestral cover of pretty on the inside
To mark the album's 25th anniversary, former lead guitarist Eric Erlandson is organising an orchestral interpretation of all 11 brilliantly abrasive feminist anthems.
There are ostensibly few albums less suited to orchestral interpretations than Hole's debut studio album Pretty on the Inside. Unlike the more polished sound of Live Through This or Celebrity Skin, the 1991 release is acerbic, distorted, and packed with lyrics that still appear unsettlingly feminist 25 years later. "Mrs. Jones" deals with rape and a bungled abortion, "Teenage Whore" with Courtney's deep inferiority complex, and the demented Joni Mitchell cover "Clouds" with suicide. However the album is also noted for the sophisticated melodies that run underneath the disfigured guitar riffs and cigarette-harshed vocals. These appear to be precisely the reasons that the alt-rock band's former lead guitarist, Eric Erlandson, wants to hear all 11 tracks played by an orchestra and sung by a choir. To mark the 25th anniversary of Pretty on the Inside, he's chasing that dream by enlisting Steve Gregoropoulos to arrange and conduct the unconventional choral symphony. Announcing the decision on the event website, he explains why the album remains so dear to him.
"It was not only Courtney's and my 'baby,' the fruit of our relationship and incessant wrangling (musical and otherwise), but I also believe it to be an epochal moment in rock history," he says. "A timeless snapshot. A distillation of all that happened in the 70s and 80s filtered and flipped through the minds of three women and one guy. It was released at a time when cock rock was having its last gasp on the charts and punk was still scraping paint off the walls of all-ages rec rooms in the underground. Unlike the punk/metal/pop precision of Nirvana's Nevermind released the week before, Pretty on the Inside was a mess of contradictions, reflecting the inner workings of feminine rage, the chaos lurking in the womb of humanity ready to explode at any given moment in abrasive beauty. Courtney, Jill, Caroline, and myself — we channeled our demons well, all false selves and naked truth, into a palpable presentation of what Allen Ginsburg once called 'actual mind in public.'"
This doesn't totally rule out the possibility of the Hole reunion Courtney hinted at earlier this year, Instagramming a photo with her two post-Pretty on the Inside band mates — drummer Patty Schemel and bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur — and a cryptic caption: "with the girls, serving up a Hole lot of something. Maybe." While Eric's explanation for not opting to do a conventional performance of the band's debut album is that it's "out of the question, and frankly, not that interesting," we're sure Courtney — the woman who would frequently dive off-stage and return with her clothes torn off — could cook up something to tickle Eric's fancy.
Pretty Looking Back takes place October 6, 2016 at The Regent Theatre in Los Angeles. Tickets are available here.
Text Hannah Ongley