Courtney Love talks boobs, rehab and why her new songs are the best of her career

Courtney Love performs at Vinyl to celebrate the venue’s one year anniversary on August 22. Love will take the stage again tonight.
Photo: Erik Kabik/ Retna/ erikkabik.com

Given your past reputation for unpredictability, I've heard some people talk about your upcoming shows like they expect you to bust out some wild stage antics when you're up there. Does that sort of talk frustrate you at this point, or does it make you smile? I think it's hilarious. When have I had a wild stage antic in the last 10 years? I mean, honestly. Well, no, 2004. That was a long time ago. I had wild stage antics in 2004. I mean, look, I win them over by playing really good music. You know? I don’t do wild stage antics. What do you mean, like showing my boobs or something?

Not necessarily. I mean, my boobs are—I’m 49 years old. Chris Rock, he's really sexist, but he has a really good joke: It’s like, "Before 25, it's community boobies. After that, it's someone else's boobies. Keep 'em covered.” He was talking about Janet Jackson. But in a way he's right. I don’t feel the need to show my boobs anymore. I felt the need to show my boobs when I was in Australia one night and I was hot and the band before us was all shirtless and they were guys, and I was like “F**k this! I'm gonna play a really morbid, sad song,” and I just took off my bra. But then it became schticky over time. You know, it's like, okay, after about six months of this every night it's like, I’m playing topless. I’m like an Amazon. And I felt like an Amazon up there! I really felt goddess-like in a way, like shamanistic. Like I’m totally naked in front of you. Well, I'm not totally naked, but I’m totally vulnerable, my breasts are out. And that was when I was much younger, and it was a different vibe. And that was also when they were stage diving and all that kind of stuff. There isn't that stuff anymore. Are you gonna come to the show?

Yeah. Well, you'll see. I just play my heart out. You know, the thing is is that there's so few women playing rock and roll right now. So few of us! I mean I can count them on my hands, you know? I mean, it's so much easier to wake up in the morning and be Madonna or Katy Perry or Rihanna or Beyoncé or playing dance music. It's just so much easier of a job. Listen—it's Andrea, yeah?

Courtney Love performs at the Hard Rock Hotel's Vinyl room on August 22.

Courtney Love performs at the Hard Rock Hotel's Vinyl room on August 22.

Yeah. Everyone wants a rock moment. Everyone wants to be a rock chick. But they don’t want to live it, you know? And as I'm going back into acting and I'm really excited about that—in fact I'm moving back to LA after the book comes out and the single comes out—even as I go back into acting, I'll always have time for rock and roll because it's just part of what I am and who I am. There's no hurry up and wait. It's instant gratification once you've got the songs written. And, you know, this tour was really small. We have no new single out on it. But the shows are so good and we're playing deep cuts and songs real fans like, and, you know, people throw up signs for songs that the band doesn't even know, and we like learn them onstage. So we've been jamming more. In Austin we played what I think is one of the best shows of my entire career. And the next single is definitely, in my opinion, the best song of my entire career, period. Bar none. I was listening to Savages all day yesterday thinking how great their record is and then around three in the morning I put on my song on 99 on my little Bose CD player and I was like, “Wait! This song is so much better.” It's just so good. It’s just so f*cking good. And it's two minutes and 59 seconds. So it's just absolutely perfect. It's called “Wedding Day.” It's definitely alternative rock. I mean, it's got the word “f*ck” in it and what not. But the other song “California” has a crossover potential that I think could be really good. And we've been approached by majors but there’s no point on being on a major if it rocks. Unless that major's gonna ... you know, I don’t know. We’ll see what happens at the Troubadour. I know Rick Rubin's coming. I know some other big producers like that are coming. You know, if that happens, maybe that's a game changer. I don’t know. The thing about music is that, unlike acting, where it's so interdependent and there's infrastructure and you have to get chosen and you need a leader and a community to represent you, you know what I mean? You really need that person who's passionate about you and represents you properly. And that miracle has occurred, or is occurring, in my life right now, which is that somebody in the community who is a leader in terms of managing, agent-ing, etc. in acting has decided to go forth with me. And that's a lot of balls, because this guy is an A-list player. But he also keeps his own council. And that's what you need, and it's just like fashion or anything else. Like, one person starts, everyone else starts running. You know what I mean? Music is a little different because I think music has a little more of a meritocracy now. Kids decided what's big. It's like Florence and the Machine can have the biggest media moment of all time, but Cobra Starship is still getting 48 million hits. Explain that. So it’s really hard to think in terms of like $5,000 videos, coming from the nineties as I do and thinking in terms of like $300,000 videos. You know what I mean? Downsizing it like that and having to come up with a really just—But it sorts out the men from the boys, and it also makes you smarter. It makes you more aware of what kids are listening to. I have to look at all these videos. This one guy who wants to do a video of ours did this thing called Duck Sauce. I can’t remember what it is, but it’s got like 28 million hits, and, you know, that stuff's really important now. So with the book, the book coming out at Christmas, with the single coming out, I’m very excited about that period of time. And I'm very excited to play Las Vegas. I'll be honest, I love the Hard Rock. I love the Hard Rock. I like the Joint. I’ve never played this new room the Vinyl. I think we’re playing two nights there, right?

Mm-hm. Yeah. So. They put a lot of money into it. I've always felt very comfortable there, except the frat guys in the pool kind of freak me out. They have this place called Rehab that my friend Neil Strauss took me to the day after I got out of rehab, and a he-shall-go-unnamed rock star was doing so much blow in the cabana next to me. And blow was never my thing, but like, it was my thing for a little while. And it was like, I was in rehab, and I had just gotten out of rehab, and now I'm at Rehab on Sunday at the Hard Rock and mister rock star is doing so much blow next to me and he's like, "Yeah, you want a bump?" I’m like [gasp]. So I had to [do something]. At the Hard Rock, at all the casinos there, they all have a 12-step meeting, and the girl up in the hair salon told me about this basement 12-step meeting I could go to, so I went to the 12-step meeting. It was hilarious. It was in the basement of a casino. And it's, you know, friends of Bill W., like, sharing. Dealers are down there, showgirls, security guards, it's hilarious. But no, I like the Hard Rock. Somebody asked me if I wanted to stay at the Wynn, I'm like no, I want to stay at the Hard Rock, I want to stay in the Dylan Suite. But they were gonna put me in the Nirvana Suite, dude! Not a good idea. At the Hard Rock I always wonder what room I'm gonna get, like am I gonna get the Sting room, or ...? Am I ever gonna get—Is there a my room? [laughs] You know which room I'm staying in?

Uh, no. Which one? The Paradise room. Which I happen to think might have something to do with "Paradise City." It might be the Guns N' Roses room. Oh boy. That'll be funny. But apparently it's like a castle. I mean they put like $750 million into the place, so I’m excited. Somehow they acquired a lot of my guitars and a lot of my dresses without my knowledge. And that's why I don't sign guitars anymore, because I don't want to see my guitar up at the Hard Rock if I didn't give it to them. But it's cool. I like it. And I'm on a chip. It’s a 50-cent chip. I'd like to work my way up. [laughs] So there's a 50-cent chip with my face. I'm like, 50 cents. Wow. Flea's a $5, Lars Ulrich is a $5. Rob Zombie's a $1. I'm 50 cents. F*ckin' bummer, dude. But maybe policy will change. Maybe they'll make a better chip for me. I'll be a baccarat chip! A $10,000 chip! But anyway. Um, alright, so, I hope to see you there, and, um, we're gonna rock!

Courtney Love August 23, 10:30 p.m., $35-$47, Vinyl.

Photo of Andrea Domanick

Andrea Domanick

Get more Andrea Domanick
  • The Las Vegas debut of the Ohio-bred indie band was filled with dynamic arrangements, entertaining anecdotes—and, surprisingly, lots of attendees.

  • At this point, the only constant from album to album is the band’s dedication to ambition.

  • Bassist Nate Brenner partners with leader Merrill Garbus for an approachable and dancey record.

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story