Hit So Hard: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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A stunningly candid portrait of the Seattle grunge scene of the '90s and a memoir of an addict during the last great era of rock 'n' roll excess, by Hole drummer Patty Schemel
Patty Schemel's story begins with a childhood surrounded by the AA meetings her parents hosted in the family living room. Their divorce triggered her first forays into drinking at age twelve and dovetailed with her passion for punk rock and playing the drums. Patty's struggles with her sexuality further drove her notoriously hard playing, and by the late '80s she had focused that anger, confusion, and drive into regular gigs with well-regarded bands in Tacoma, Seattle, and Olympia, Washington. She met a pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain at a Melvins show, and less than five years later, was living with him and his wife, Hole front-woman Courtney Love, at the height of his fame and on the cusp of hers. As the platinum-selling band's new drummer, Schemel contributed memorable, driving beats to hits like "Beautiful Son," "Violet," "Doll Parts," and "Miss World." But the band was plagued by tragedy and heroin addiction, and by the time Hole went on tour in support of their ironically titled and critically-acclaimed album Live Through This in 1994, both Cobain and Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff had died at the age of 27
With surprising candor and wit, Schemel intimately documents the events surrounding her dramatic exit from the band in 1998 that led to a dark descent into a life of homelessness and crime on the streets of Los Angeles, and the difficult but rewarding path to lasting sobriety after more than twenty serious attempts to get clean. Hit So Hard is a testament not only to the enduring power of the music Schemel helped create but an important document of the drug culture that threatened to destroy it.
About the Author
Patty Schemel is an American drummer, songwriter, and comedian best known for her work with the platinum-selling band Hole. She is on the board of the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls in California, a non-profit organization that teaches girls all over the world that it's okay to be loud. She continues to perform, teach, and tour, currently with the band Upset, and lives in Los Angeles with her wife and daughter.
"Reading about the myriad ways Hole drummer Patty Schemel--'the best musician in that band' as her pal Kurt Cobain put it--brutalized herself with addiction can feel like a kind of sadistic experience. And yet, Hit So Hard feels ultimately uplifting and hopeful, in part because its author so fully and completely appreciates what she's survived in order to have written it. Hit So Hard is a harrowing but heartwarming read. Schemel's made the years she got that others didn't count. And it shows."—Lizzy Goodman, author of Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011, -
"Patty Schemel has lived a million lives and come out the other side. An amazing story, amazing book."—Mark Lanegan, -
"Hit So Hard is a compulsive read about the best worst times of a music scene torn apart by darkness and overshadowed by myth. Schemel writes with clear-eyed bravery about the chronic disease of addiction and offers hope for anyone still struggling to survive the '90s."—Jillian Lauren, author of Some Girls and Everything You Ever Wanted, -
"Often harrowing, frequently heartrending, and always insightful, Hit So Hard is far more than rock myth-making or a redemption story. In looking back unflinchingly at the literal highs and crushing lows of her life, Schemel's yielded a complex, compellingly readable memoir that possesses a truth and humanity few books of its kind ever truly capture."—Bob Mehr, New York Times bestselling author of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, -
"Patty Schemel's drums have always been a wake-up call, the punctuation that makes serious the wild streams of punk consciousness her bands have expressed. This book is a wake-up call, too: a clearly considered, deeply honest look back at a rock scene that's often been mourned but rarely truly understood. Schemel writes most honestly about herself: she spares nothing and no one as she traces the path of addiction as it intersects with the privileges and costs of young fame. A must-read about rock 'n' roll realities."—Ann Powers, NPR Music Critic and author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music, -
"Revisit the '90s as Schemel recounts the rise and rise of her band, as well as the devastating effects of her drug and alcohol addictions...[and] the music that taught her 'how to feel so much it hurt.'"—Elle.com, -
"[A] heartbreaking memoir...Schemel's recounting is bluntly terrifying and provides invaluable insight into the ravages of addiction-and just as importantly, the possibility of recovery...A must-read for any grunge fan."
—Publishers Weekly, -
"The ex-Hole drummer lifts the veil on the punk mythos with an unsparing memoir, in which she chronicles industry sexism, her teenage coming out, her struggle with addiction, and her years on the road with Kurt and Courtney."
—Village Voice, -
"This memoir by Hole's former drummer...is a no-holds-barred look at her musical career and harrowing, decades-long path she took to achieve sobriety."—Salon.com, ?The 30 must-read music books of Fall 2017?, -
"Explores her struggles with addiction, her departure from Hole, being homeless in LA, and her inspiring road to recovery...Schemel's memoir is as jaw-dropping as it is heart-breaking."—The Fix, -
"As much a memoir as it is both a cautionary tale and a work designed to help lift the stigma of being an addict...Engaging and unflinchingly honest...It's also an account of being in a famous band and working in the music business, as well as what Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain were like in private."—Spectrum Culture, -
"Understated and affecting anecdotes...make up the brunt of Patty's new memoir, Hit So Hard."—Vice, -
"Hit So Hard is one of the most honest-but moreover, one of the most useful-addiction memoirs in recent history...There simply aren't that many books like this where the rockstar is female...Schemel is not only an apt explainer of drug culture, she's also a gifted humorist in that fine tradition of blackness that can really only emerge from the depths of such despairing pursuit of death by overdose. Her description of the nature of the highs is much clearer than any of Lou Reed's compositions. Her explication of how to buy hard drugs from strangers in strange cities and get them on the airplane is reported with a level of detail that does more to examine junky psychology than any straightforward testimonial could. Her analysis of the comparative merits of various rehab and detox procedures is deeply wise to the nuances of how best to kick, and why these programs are not one size fits all. Hit So Hard pulls no punches. It's an unvarnished and unsensational account of how Schemel survived-how she outlasted her addiction, but also how she coped with coming out, with the sudden fame and chaotic demands of Hole, with the prolonged agony of Cobain's legacy, and so on...Schemel's memoir is proof...that through a committed combination of clarity and wit, even the most enabled and damaged rockstar might get a second chance at both love and music."—PopMatters, -
"Gripping...There's a commendable lack of celebrity kiss-and-tell here...Hit So Hard is really the story of a woman who got horribly lost and found herself only when she got back behind the trap set."—Portland Oregonian, -
"Though Hit So Hard is ultimately a deeply personal story, it's also the story of one of the most successful bands of the '90s: Hole...Schemel describes her years with the band with the same unflinching honesty and eye for telling detail that she brings to all parts of her life."—LA Weekly, -
"Patty Schemel is a woman who survives to fight and fought to survive, and her memoir is a recommended read for anyone that's ever felt just that little bit different."—Inspirer Magazine, -
"[Schemel] gives readers an intimate look into her experience as a member of Hole, one of the most iconic bands of the '90s."—Nylon, -
"As the drummer for Hole during the band's heyday in the early to mid-'90s, Patty Schemel is one of the era's most well-recognized and respected percussionists...Hit So Hard details her life leading up to her becoming a professional musician in some of the world's most famous bands...[and] the experience of being on the road, in the studio and at home with her generation's most lauded artists-herself included...Readers will find themselves transfixed by Schemel's tales of life as an addict, but also a working musician during one of the industry's most tumultuous yet exciting times."—Billboard.com, -
"The book speaks to having survived a veritable Hell on Earth and somehow coming out the other side intact and that's something worth celebrating."—Soundblab, -
"Schemel writes about life in the limelight and in the shadows with the kind of biting honesty that comes with surviving a period in rock history with an exceptionally high body count...While Hit So Hard is predominantly a story about recovery, it is also a rock memoir, and Schemel is an excellent storyteller."—Stereogum, -
"Schemel recounts her ultimately hopeful story of how an alt-rock feminist, lesbian and recovering addict survived what so many of her peers did not."—Billboard, -
"A harrowing account of [Schemel's] rise, fall and ultimate redemption...A cautionary tale, to be sure. But it's one that Schemel relates with a forthright lack of self-pity, even leavening some of the darker moments with humor."—Seattle Times, -
"[Schemel's] book is the very definition of a cautionary tale...[It] not only affirms [her] as a musician, it also speaks to the healing power of a creative life."—The Creative Independent, -
"An unflinching look at her life and the role drug and alcohol addiction played in it...Hard to read at times, Schemel's staunchly frank examination of her life, the good and bad...is a fascinating read."—Innocent Words, -
"A smart, clear-eyed look back at the 1990s alt-rock scene...[Schemel] writes with humor and insight."—Philadelphia Inquirer, -
"Frank reflections on how being in a band fuels addiction."—Pitchfork, -
"Unlike most insider grunge manifestos related to Hole or Nirvana, the centerpiece of Hit So Hard is not the rise and fall of the Cobains, though Schemel's time with both Kurt and Courtney is documented tenderly...The takeaway that Hit So Hard leaves you with is that being an addict is forever. You get clean and fight for your life, or you die. This is a story about needing to fill the void so badly that you end up, barely alive, coiled at the pit of it...Never have I read a more honest memoir about addiction."—Mish Way of White Lung, via Pitchfork, -
"Schemel's story is one of dramatic extremes, navigating the world as a queer woman from a family of recovering alcoholics."—Out.com, -
"Readers for the first time get the behind the scenes, first-hand account of what made Hole such a great/dysfunctional band...The book is a roller-coaster ride of angst and self-reflection. From her first meeting with a pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain to sharing a house with him and Courtney Love at the height of Nirvana's success Schemel is candid with her accounts."—Media Mikes, -
"A candid story of a life in rock...Schemel writes with wit and easy humor."—Bust, -
"Hit So Hard is the story of Patty's life yes, and the journey into her addiction and her way out of it, yes, but it's also the story of survival-of being a daughter to divorced parents, of being gay, of being in a seminal band and then not being in it. It's a look from the inside of the Seattle rock scene in the early 90s."—BARB Magazine, -
"[Schemel] was one of the first female drummers to make it onto a major label...Hit So Hard offers a woman's view of a tumultuous era. It's an often harrowing but ultimately triumphant story, and Schemel tells it unflinchingly."
—Buffalo News, -
"An intimate, brazen account of [Schemel's] battle with drugs and alcohol, as well as the volatile years she spent drumming for one of the 1990s' most infamous rock bands-and she spared none of the harrowing details."
"A clear-eyed account of her myriad failures and successes in and out of the band that made her famous...Ms. Schemel pulls no punches. As a new perspective on an already storied era, Hit So Hard doesn't disappoint...[It] arrives at a moment when the prevalence of opioid abuse has been dubbed a health crisis, an epidemic whose implications affect every strata of the social order. In this context, it sheds light on the interpersonal aspects of addiction and recovery."—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, -
"The anecdotes and stories are painfully vivid...but all of it flows gracefully in the same way Schemel, 50, attacked the drums with an assertive sense of melody that made her one of rock's greatest timekeepers. You should read this."—Creative Loafing Tampa, -
"The book...is much more than a drummer's eye view of that era. Schemel starts at the beginning from being a young girl, feeling awkward and out of place to finding the drums, which as a preteen she played until her hands bled."
"Not a book one should approach lightly or 'just' for the behind the scenes tales. If you want them, you'll certainly get them, but they're not why you should read...[Schemel's] voice is an engaging one throughout, honest but not tendentious, often vivid in her sense of exact detail."
—The Quietus, -
"Hit So Hard is an engrossing read which offers an inside glimpse into the world of addiction and the horrific effects it has not only on the addict but on all those around them. With the opioid crisis in America continuing to grow, Schemel's story is the harsh reality that so many people are living right now. The book also gives some great insight into the inner workings of the Seattle music scene at the onset of grunge making it a must read not only for those who know someone struggling with addiction but for music fans as well."
"[In] Hit So Hard, [Schemel is] a de facto historian of 1990s Seattle, a notably visible gay female musician, and a clear-eyed observer of the hell she's been through."
"Both an insider's look at the '90s grunge scene in Seattle and a personal portrait of addiction."
—Peach Atlanta, -
"Gripping reading...[Schemel's] tales of life in HOLE, from auditioning, recording and touring are laden with insight...She describes with clarity her all-encompassing need for drugs...It's frank, brutal and disturbing yet eloquently written and free from any form of egotism...There is no pretension in her words, no eulogizing or self-aggrandizing her status as someone who has been part of a platinum selling band and toured the world...She writes in a conversational yet brave tone and, without a doubt, is inimitably likeable. There's a lot to absorb from this memoir...It's a damn good book!"—Scanner Zine
"With surprising candor and wit, Schemel intimately documents the events surrounding her dramatic exit from the band in 1998 that led to a dark descent into a life of homelessness and crime on the streets of Los Angeles, and the difficult but rewarding path to lasting sobriety after more than twenty serious attempts to get clean. 'Hit So Hard' is a testament not only to the enduring power of the music Schemel helped create but an important document of the drug culture that threatened to destroy it."—Rock N Roll Librarian