Patty Schemel, the subject of P. David Ebersole’s doc “Hit So Hard,” may not be a household name, but she deserves to be. A drummer with a reputation as one of the hardest hitting musicians in her profession, Schemel has been playing since the age of 11. Keeping the beat in a variety of bands, Schemel is perhaps best known for her tumultuous tenure in the band Hole, led by Courtney Love Cobain (as she is identified in the film.
Schemel documented her experiences in Hole, and her vintage film footage enhances what is already a gripping story. Schemel, who came out in a 1995 Rolling Stone interview, somehow balanced her musical career and role in Hole, playing Lollapalooza and a multitude of festivals, recording albums and living the rock star life. Of course, such a life can also include negative experiences, includ- ing Kurt Cobain’s suicide, fol- lowed soon after by Hole bass player Kristen Pfaff’s drug overdose. In and out of rehab, Schemel hit rock bottom when she quit Hole and ended up strung out and living on the streets.
Ebersole makes especially good use of interviews in “Hit So Hard.” Interviewees include Schemel’s mother, who tells a touching story about Schemel’s coming out; her brother Larry, close to her in age and with whom she shared a series of sub- stance abuse issues; Love Cobain, who comes off as crazy and self-absorbed as you’d expect; female musi- cians such as Go-Go’s drum- mer Gina Schock and Bangles drummer Debi Peterson; and out musicians including Luscious Jackson drummer Kate Schellenbach and Fanny drummer Alice de Buhr, among others.
With all the drama in her story, the greatest impact of “Hit So Hard” turns out to be that Schemel, six years sober at the time the doc was completed, has found a happy ending. Happily run- ning the Dog Rocker Dog Care business, married to her girlfriend, with whom she is a proud parent (thanks to sperm donated by brother Larry), Schemel continues to perform. She also is actively nurturing the next genera- tion of female drummers.
Blu-ray bonus features include audio commentary by the director and Schemel, previously unseen rare foot- age and much more.
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