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Melissa Auf Der Maur - Biography
|last update : 18-03-2011 09:37|
|Melissa Auf der Maur was born on the 17th of March 1972 to parents Nick Auf der Maur and Linda Gaboriau, in Montreal, Canada. Nick Auf der Maur was a native of Montreal, the youngest of four children. Nick's parents immigrated to Montreal from Switzerland. Linda Gaborieau is a native of Boston, who moved to Montreal in 1963 in pursuit of an education in French language and literature at McGill University. Aside from her career in literary translation and playwriting, Linda worked as a freelance journalist, writing for various newspapers including the Montreal Gazette, for which Nick Auf der Maur was a columnist.
Melissa and Linda lived in Kenia for a short period of time, but they moved back to Montreal after Melissa'd caught Malaria for the third time. Melissa grew up in Montreal, in the 'Le plateau Mont-Royal' neighborhood. Melissa is very fond of her home town, "I grew up in Montreal, across the street from a small mountain, called 'Mont Royal', after which Montreal was named. On the mountain stands a cross, which the European settlers set up there and which shines at night. The fact that the very thing breathed history fascinated me as a child."
Melissa wanted to pursue her musical interests, and decided on playing the bass after attending a Smashing Pumpkins show in Montreal. The show was host to a now legendary argument between frontman Billy Corgan and one of Melissa's friends, Bruce. Billy Corgan recalls, "Melissa saw us play in 1990 or 1991, and the reason I met her was because some guy that she knew whipped a bottle at me, and I walked off the stage and throttled the guy. And she came up to me after the show to apologize, we struck up a conversation, and we've been friends ever since." Melissa and Billy Corgan remained in contact, becoming pen pals and remaining so while the Pumpkins made it big in the early '90s. Melissa's father bought her her first bass, a '70s Japanese Fender Squier, and a small amplifier, for her 21st birthday. Melissa mentioned, "At that time I was going up to the local punk bands and asked if I could play with them. 'Well', they said, 'Are you any good?' and I said, 'No, but I will be.'"
While Melissa was majoring in photography at Concordia University, she worked as DJ at the 'Bifteck', as bar on Montreal's famous Boulevard Saint-Laurent. The Bifteck was frequented by many local musicians, and after the bar closed at night, the company would often go to a rehearsal space and jam. During this time, Melissa met Steve Durand, a fellow student at Concordia. Melissa, Steve, and drummer Jordon Zadorozny formed a band, Tinker. They were already making waves in the Montreal music scene, when Smashing Pumpkins returned to Montreal for another concert. The Pumpkins initially planned on having an American band open for them, and Melissa decided to ask Billy whether her band could open for them in one of her letters. Billy said yes, and so Tinker played the biggest venue they had ever played as the opening act for Smashing Pumpkins when they played at 'Le National' in 1994.
Mid-1994, Seattle-based group Hole tragically lost their talented bass player Kirsten Pfaff to a drug overdose. Singer Courtney Love, by then newly widowed after the death of Kurt Cobain, was looking for a new bassist. During a phone conversation, Billy Corgan recommended Melissa to Courtney. Courtney decided to invite Melissa to Seattle for an audition, but, Melissa initially said no to the offer. Her father had to talk her in to taking the audition, as he recounted in a column on the subject published later, "Why did Melissa turn down the offer of an audition? Because she didn't really want to play in a band dominated by somebody else and maybe Hole's music was a tad commercial. What a girl, I thought to myself. Spunk. Her own boss. Her own mind, not swayed easily. Full of artistic integrity. Well, I suggested, artistic integrity is one thing and sometimes we should be flexible. 'But,' she said, 'you told me you have to be honest with yourself'. 'Well, yes,' I said, 'but I strongly suggest you get a hold of Mr. Big Pumpkin and tell him you've reconsidered'."
And so, Melissa reconsidered, auditioned and got the job, resulting in her leaving her home, love and university, and dive head-first into her first performance with Hole at Reading Festival, in front of 60.000 people. Melissa was a member of Hole for 5 years, writing for their last album 'Celebrity Skin' and remaining a constant factor in the band. However, after her 5-year contract with Hole ended, Melissa left the band to pursue her own musical career, the thing she had always dreamed about most.
But before she could get the chance, she was hauled in by Billy Corgan for to be Smashing Pumpkins' touring bassist. Band fixture D'Arcy Wretzky had left, and Melissa supported the Pumpkins for what would be their final tour, which continued for nearly two years. Yet another long stretch of touring for Melissa, and yet another two years of putting her own musical aspirations aside. But not without cause, "I pretty much found one of the loudest sounds inside myself in this band. And I felt this thing when I walked within(a concert)and pretty much started to play the bass that year, and Billy would weave in and out of my life giving me thumbs up or a kick in the ass," as Melissa said about her musical link with Smashing Pumpkins.
After the Pumpkins' monster tour wrapped up, Melissa started recording her solo album 'Auf der Maur', not with one regular band, but with many of her friends. The entire album was self-financed, and not until all songs were final and finished did Melissa approach a label for the release. 'Auf der Maur' consists of songs written over the last decade, amongst which songs Melissa wrote many years ago, and songs written by and with long time friend and former Tinker band mate Steve Durand, who was also a member of the Auf der Maur touring band. Other familiar names on the album are Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri, James Iha, Jordon Zadorozny and Paz Lenchantin, and the album was produced by mastermind Chris Goss. 'Auf der Maur' was released in Europe on February 2nd, 2004, to favorable reviews from fans, non-fans and music critics. It sold over 180,000 copies worldwide.
The release of 'Auf der Maur' spawned a monstrous continuous tour that lasted for well over a year. In the wake of that tour, an exhausted Melissa retreated to a family home in Cape Cod, to come to her senses. While spending time away, Melissa saw her label, L.A. based Capitol Records, being taken over by EMI. All the material that had been recorded for a sophomore album, got caught up in red tape and Melissa foresaw her album being shelved. Eventually, after years of negotiation and working hard to set her album free, Melissa succeeded, and armed with the rights to her songs, decided to release her new album on her own.
In the time it took to achieve all this, the project evolved into a multi-layered project, named 'Out of our Minds', or 'OOOM' for short. Aside from the album, the project entails a dynamic website, a movie directed by 'Severed Ways' director Tony Stone, and a comic illustrated by Jack Forbes from Brooklyn, N.Y.C. The 'OOOM' film has seen a Sundance premiere, and it has been a part of a traveling exhibition of the work of painter J.W. Waterhouse, one of Melissa's all time biggest inspirations, when it visited Montreal.
The album is set for a March 2010 release, under the moniker 'MAdM'. A 3-song EP, 'This Would Be Paradise', was released late 2008, followed by a short string of European concert dates, and late 2009, the first single, along with the comic, were released. The single contains the album's title track 'Out of our Minds', as well as 'Lead Horse' and '22 Below'. The single can be bought within multiple packages at Melissa's official website, including all or part of the following: a digital download, three track CD single, limited edition picture disk 7" vinyl, comic book, a t-shirt and bookmarks.
During her musical career, Melissa has been seen in side projects such as her Black Sabbath cover band 'Hand of Doom', with which she released a live album, and 'The Chelsea', with friends Paz Lenchantin, Samantha Maloney and Radio Sloan. Never one to sit still, Melissa has collaborated and toured with the likes of QOTSA, Marilyn Manson, The Cure, Indochine, NIN, Muse, Ryan Adams, Ric Ocasek and more. While fate had her career in photography take a backseat to the music, it was never neglected. Melissa's photos have been featured in Spin Magazine, Nylon, Elle and American Photo, and there have been multiple exhibitions of her work over the years.