Hit So Hard
Documentary about Hole drummer Patty Schemel
When you think of Hole, you most likely see in your mind’s eye Courtney Love, the blonde, foul-mouthed sometime powerhouse of a front woman and present day ‘celebrity for miscellaneous things’. Hit So Hard focuses on Hole’s second drummer Patty Schemel, who joined the band for their 1994 breakout sophomore record, Live Through This. From then until she was unceremoniously ousted from the line-up by producer Michael Beinhorn in favour of a session drummer for 1998’s Celebrity Skin, Schemel was at the epicentre of all the personal chaos the band became renowned for, which was more than a little related to booze and drugs. The heavy lifestyle took its toll on Schemel and she ended up penniless, homeless and addicted to heroin within a year of leaving the group.
P David Ebersole's documentary gathers an impressive array of interviewees for the film, speaking to Schemel’s mother and brother as well as reassembling the pre-Celebrity Skin line-up for personal testimonials. There are plenty of female drumming legends on show too, including The Bangles' Debbi Peterson, Fanny's Alice de Buhr and former Beastie Boys drummer Kate Schellenbach.
The film feels scattered at points, unsure of how to bring in information about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love without making this the whole story, or allowing Schemel’s tale of survival to pale in comparison to it. Home movies of Schemel with Cobain, Love and their child are interspersed with talking heads discussing where they were the day Cobain died, with less focus put on the fact that Live Through This was released four days after the suicide.
Slow-motion footage of the deceased and potentially irritating quotes-as-title-sequences appear at regular intervals throughout the film, saved mainly by the fact that Schemel herself, now six years sober, comes across so well, addressing incredibly sensitive issues in a self-effacing and honest manner. It is her sometime-bandmates who are less sympathetically portrayed, having watched their drummer be banished without much more than a shrug.
Hit So Hard screened at Glasgay! 2012. It's on selected release from Fri 16 Nov.