Thursday, February 7, 2013

Exorcism Number Six: Caroline Rue

Welcome back. Please enjoy this interview with one of my heroes, Caroline Rue - Hole's first drummer. This is actually from 2 years ago and was published in Dragana's fanzine, "Night of the Fandom." I was really honored when Caroline got back to me and it was incredibly amazing to read about her involvement in Hole's beginnings. I will share links at the end to my favorite examples of Caroline's drumming and some video too. Thanks for reading.

You have a unique and super heavy drumming style. Who are some of your influences?

Well, thank you, Miranda. My first lesson was from a teenage girl who wore checkered slip on Van's and a ponytail, popping gum. She was classically trained and loved John Bonham. Very heavy foot. That aspect of Bonham I really like. DJ Bonebrake (X), Keith Moon, Stewart Copeland, Rat Scabies (The Damned) for his intensity and the way he would ride the crash to make a driving sizzle sound, Earl Palmer and Hal Blaine for that swinging motown feel. Budgie's (Creatures) work on the Slits album was so inspiring. Todd Barnes from TSOL. I used to watch their practices and wish I could do fills like him.

Were there any drummers before you in hole? How do you feel about the drummers that came after you?

No, I was the first one. The others were Patty and Samantha. I like Patty personally. She's got great style. She told me they made her play some things the way I did, specifically riding the crash for that driving sizzle sound. I never met Samantha but think she's really an amazing player and a great performer.

The evolution of Hole's sound is, in my opinion, extreme. What do you think contributed to the sound/style changes over the years?

Well, first off, Courtney and I were the least skilled musicians and needed time to catch up with Jill and Eric. We hung out, listened to records, and they turned me on to the Pixies, which I had only seen the MTV video for "Here Comes Your Man." We became better players, so we were starting to refine our tool to do what we were intending.

What was the songwriting process like in hole?

It varied. Usually music was written by Eric or Courtney at home, but more often than not it started as a spontaneous noise or strumming between songs or I would start with a drumbeat and Eric would follow it and choose some chords (Dicknail started that way). It allowed me to tap into some very primal experiences and exorcise them. The way we worked was someone just accidentally or intentionally find something and we all put our interpretation in and it went from there. Very organic. Courtney wrote all lyrics. For me, they were so visual and my response to them was pre-verbal, kinda caveman-ish. She was very inspiring and a very hard worker.

What makes a band powerful- both live and in the studio?

Yeah, those are different approaches. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. They both require a  deconstructing of the songs. In the studio on our first single, we started bringing in phone conversations, very lo-fi tape recordings morphing into guitar noise or bits of popular songs-- things not meant to be reproduced live. To play live you need stamina and self control, don't sit down at practice! Stand UP! Play through your set repeatedly, make notes to weaknesses. Record practices, listen back and take notes to improve it next chance, like an athlete that watches playbacks of your last game. For live shows, bring everything you've got to the table, even rage. Courtney discovered I played better when angry so she'd find new ways to piss me off before we went on. Don't apologize on stage. EVER. Umm, did I mention PRACTICE?

What bands have you been a part of in your career and what are your favorite musical collaborations?

I joined my first band in 1981 in OC. It was called Sexually Frustrated. I then joined IUD-- all female 4 piece with identical twin, dare I say, borderline midgets. They were rad. We played Camarillo State Hospital with the Omlits, who I joined later that year. We played out a lot in Hollywood and OC, and oddly mental hospitals and men's and women's prisons around L.A. We recorded on Mystic Records comp called "The Sound of Hollywood Girls", Bitchcraft with Rebecca from Frightwig, Travis John Alford, Tiffany Anders in Hot White Noon, Mocket from Olympia on K Records, Echolocate with Mary from Mars Accelerator and The Darklings.

My favorite collaboration was with Hole in the very beginning followed by the Omlits. Another collaboration I really felt a big part of was with Mary in Echolocate. It was guitar and drums. No vocals. I learned a lot about arranging and "making suggestions." My current, band, The Darklings has a violin player, bass, guitar, drums and vocals. They're really passionate about the arranging process, and they give my suggestions a lot of respect and consideration and I'm learning a lot about violins!

And lastly... who are some of your favorite current bands?

The Duke Spirit, White Rose Movement, Cat Power, Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse, Octant, Band of Horses, Beck, Ikara Colt, Sebadoh, CSS.

Thank you so much Caroline!

Here are some links.

Turpentine. (The best Hole song.) 
Burn Black.
Live Dicknail.


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  2. Hi, Great interview!! I'm trying to get ahold of Caroline for a rockumentary. If you could pass my message on, that would be killer!! (not sure if my last one went through) My name is April. I am directing a full length Rockumentary on the MENTORS, who she knew personally.
    Thank you for your time!
    Have a wonderful day! \m/
    April Jones
    Director. Artist. Visionary.