Auf Der Maur It’s feminine vs. masculine.
Auf Der Maur
Tues June 29
1 SW 3rd

Melissa Auf Der Maur's debut record, Auf Der Maur (Capitol), combines the elegant strength of her lyrics and voice--a velvety high alto with a bit of grit--with muscled but polished hard rock, tending toward new Queens of the Stone Age-style power-riffage. It is, as she puts it, "the wrestle between the masculine and the feminine, the ethereal and the earthly."

Wrestling with dichotomy--and winning--is simply what Auf Der Maur does. For a major-label artist in alt-rock making her first solo record, she's an anomaly from any angle. For one, as the former bassist for Smashing Pumpkins and Celebrity Skin-era Hole, Auf Der Maur sunk her income from those bands into making her album, preferring to indebt her own bank account before allowing a label to load her with hidden costs. "There've been some real weird things happening ever since Nevermind and 'punk broke,' as Sonic Youth put it," she explains. "Ever since the 'alternative nation' was stolen by corporations, people think they deserve to make money making music. Who in their right minds can deny that money ruins music? They don't mix. It's the power versus the peace."

She's also quite aware of where she sits in the landscape of a male-dominated genre. "This is alternative heavy rock music made by a woman, which is not as common, so it's interesting. A couple of years ago when I was making this record and checking out if any of the labels wanted to sign it," she says, "every major label response was 'Well, it doesn't sound like anything on the radio, and alt-rock radio doesn't play female artists, so I don't know what to do with it.'"

Luckily, that didn't discourage her. "My five years in Hole made me very, very tough," she says, "and the thing I am most proud of is creating a female presence. Like, when we're the two or three females on the stage [at a festival out of] 50 men onstage.

"I'm blessed, because my mother was a pioneer of her generation--a woman who consciously decided to be a single mother because she wanted that kind of independence... she raised me to believe I can do whatever I want and still be a loving sensitive woman. It's about being honest with yourself and doing what's true to you. My biggest lesson in life is my idealism--taking a risk and believing in [it]."