Former Hole Drummer Patty Schemel Details Addiction & Recovery In Memoir

By Paul Fuhr 09/25/17

The drummer's upcoming memoir explores her struggles with addiction, her departure from Hole, being homeless in LA, and her inspiring road to recovery.

Patty Schemel
Patty Schemel Photo via YouTube

Courtney Love’s grunge-rock act Hole was no stranger to controversy in the 1990s—routinely tackling everything from body image, exploitation, abuse, and female sexuality in their songs. That Hole became a mainstream act at all (both 1991’s Pretty on the Inside and 1994’s Live Through This were hits) is a minor miracle, given the cultural headwinds against female-centric bands at the time. (Lilith Fair was still a few years down the road.)

According to a recent New York Daily News feature, though, not everyone in Hole weathered those controversies well: drummer Patty Schemel, now 50, barely escaped her time as a member of the high-profile, trailblazing band. 

Schemel’s addiction to heroin occurred in the mid-90s, right around the ascent of both Hole and her close friend Kurt Cobain’s group Nirvana. Her addiction is the centerpiece of Schemel’s upcoming memoir Hit So Hard, which shares its title with the 2011 documentary that chronicled the drummer's life.

In the book, Schemel explores her struggles with the music industry’s sexism, her relationship with Cobain and his own addictions, her departure from Hole, being homeless in LA, and her inspiring road to recovery. While Cobain’s drug addictions have tendrils in both Hole (he was married to lead singer Courtney Love) and Nirvana, Cobain wasn’t to blame for Schemel’s exit from Hole. Her drug use had simply gotten too out of control for the band.

In the book, though, Schemel reveals a number of fascinating anecdotes and observations about the Nirvana frontman and the long shadow his addiction cast across the Seattle music scene. She mentioned that she refused to be part of Cobain’s intervention in 1994, mainly because it’d be hypocritical: “[I] was strung out and how dare I go there and say anything about someone else’s abuse when I’m doing it too?”

According to the Daily News, Schemel believed that “one of the reasons Cobain didn’t want to be a huge celebrity is because he had no interest in kicking his drug habit and didn’t want to be asked about it by the media.”

Schemel’s memoir is as jaw-dropping as it is heart-breaking. (Part of her Hole interview process, Schemel claims, was having Courtney Love ask what kind of drugs she was interested in.) In the book, Schemel also details her days of prostitution, describing how she had “worked as a prostitute to finance her runaway drug addiction”—an eye-opening fate for a musician whose albums had enjoyed widespread critical and commercial acclaim. But it was after “an estimated 22 detoxes and 14 rehab visits” that Schemel finally found sobriety and stability.

Schemel, who is now married to film producer Christina Soletti and raising a young daughter, is once again playing music. In recent years, she’s performed with indie bands and took the stage at a MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert in 2010.

Hit So Hard will be available in stores and online on October 31.

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.