The following are excerpts from a conversation that took place in a hotel room in Seattle, last December after the Hole concert at KeyArena. No words are included that weren't spoken at the time.

Everett: What do you suppose people hold you as a role model for? Ambition?
Courtney: I have ambition, but it's not Madonna ambition, it's the ambition of "I have something to say, I'm a minority, I come from shit and all forces are aligned against me from what I was born into to what I had to get out of." Did I achieve a significant amount of the American dream? Yeah! That is a good thing. I have achieved that in my celebrity, which is a hobby and could go at any minute. Yes, I've done some retarded stuff in my work, fuck you! I'm not going to low-ball, my stock is too important to me.

What's with your Stevie Nicks obsession?.
What Stevie Nicks obsession? "Go Your Own Way" is one of the best white pop songs ever written, absolutely. There are songs on Rumours that are genius, but there's as much [The Fall's] Hex Enduction Hour as Stevie Nicks stuff on Celebrity Skin. It's what I choose to show people. I like to put it through my insane and absurd filters. "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys is a fucking amazing song. I'm not talking about crap Eagles songs. I like "Hotel California" for the insanity of it, and the fact I once made out with someone to it... but this record is also pure--as in Ian McKaye pure, "I'm going to listen to these Minor Threat records now, I'm going to listen to Howlin' Wolf" pure.

What dismays me about music, especially in America, is the way it has all become so compartmentalized, and there are so many different ways to live your cozy little "alternative" lifestyle. Say you're into "lounge." So you buy your fucking overpriced easy listening albums and Oranj Symphonette retreads, your lava lamps and your '60s retro gear--it's all laid out for you. Wanna be a skate-kid? No problem. We have the gear, the music, the magazines.... Or a punk?...
And you can buy it all online.

It bothers me because there's no way music or kids will ever effect any change whatsoever when they're so effectively packaged, both outside the mainstream and within.

Thank you. That's why I played the Billboard Awards show. That's why I turn on the internal AM pop radio in my heart that I grew up with and express that on Celebrity Skin, because, goddammit, I'm not going to be held back by all that.

Kurt was pure, and he was also insanely ambitious. He wanted what he got, but because of his training, because of Olympia, he decided he didn't want it. One has only to look at old Nirvana when Jason Everman was in the band, to see him posturing like Soundgarden but beating with a pop heart. Nirvana were exposed to Olympia, though--and none of that is talent-based, and that's where those people bother me the most, Everett. It's not about talent, it's about purity--it's about having a manifesto, and it's bullshit.

Hold on a moment...
No. I believe that Ian McKaye had a sacred, divine vision but that by the time it got to Calvin Johnson it was elitist and uninclusive--and it wasn't because they ostracized me, there are plenty of scenes I love that I was ostracized by--and cutie-pie. Listen. I had Marine Girls and Kleenex played for me about the same time Kurt was getting that shit played for him, maybe even before. For him it was a save, because Olympia provided him with some pop--as did Teenage Fanclub and the Vaselines and Pastels and all those cute personalities I didn't care about. He was as aware as me of fame. He just couldn't handle it.

Listen. Mariah Carey has so missed the point--it doesn't matter how many damn notes you can hit. What the fuck is talent? The purest form of music is gospel. Mariah has nothing to do with gospel. Gospel is all about passion, purity... it's not whether you hit the note, but that you try to hit the note.
That doesn't apply to Olympia and its elitism and its lack of spirituality.

What you refer to as elitism is a couple of people sitting down and working out that what's important in pop music is how personal it is. Pop music is either a personal or a communal experience. I'm not denying the two can cross over, but if you want to be purist about it, then it's about the personal experience--and that, that is Olympia.


This record [Celebrity Skin] is better than Live Through This, hands down. It just is. I can be objective about this.

What the populace wants for the most part is a lot of shit.

You're wrong. Now who's being elitist? I'm down with the lumpen mass.Okay.
So the fact that Americans buy two records a year and one is Celine Dion and the other is the Titanic soundtrack...

Well, that bothers me. I'm talking about the Metallica crowd.
That's different. That's a niche market--huge, but a niche nonetheless. I'm talking about the balladeers. Garth Brooks is determined to sell 100 million records before the millennium, and to reach his goal he'll do crazy shit. He put out a seven-record box set of all his records, plus bonus tracks, sold it for $32.50, and sold seven million. He does his concerts for $17.50, which is making all the other country music males crazy--because what are they worth if Garth is so cheap? He had everyone at Capitol Nashville fired... his rapacious ambition is incredible. I like him because he's proud. I can't tell you what his voice sounds like, but I like his pride.

I don't think you should leave this town yet. Seattle deserves its reign of terror.

Nick Broomfield was using me as this false archetype based on the fact I went out with Kurt. You know that, you introduced us. But before I met Kurt, I was already destined for trouble and for hugeness--for my own trouble, not as a satellite of this fucking golden boy. So here's Nick, he's made a documentary on Margaret Thatcher, dominatrixes, Heidi Fleiss... so a Fleet Street boy who wants to get the shit beaten out of him by a matriarch puts me into that set as the penultimate. It's lurid. Get the fuck over it! Even the tabloid press in America is over it.

I saw that film. I was laughing most of the time. There were a couple of parts I would've preferred not to have seen.... You know who the star was? Roz, your old boyfriend.
Absolutely. That part where he's quoting me on how to become famous--Number One: Make Friends with Michael Stipe--has to be true. I said to Michael, have you heard about this? Well, duh. Who else was there to become friends with? Wouldn't you?

In one version of "Teen Spirit," Kurt sang the line, "Who will be the king and queen of the outcasted teens?" Glamour aside, there could be no more perfect couple at the time, we were so right for each other because we were the most antisocial people in our entire area. It was great--and it was horrible because of all the drugs and the pain and the fear. So I come back here and I get this feeling in my chest, and I realize that the reality of our life was so much scarier than I realized back then because of the numbing effects of the drugs. He was a sweet, sweet guy. People think I look upon that relationship as dysfunctional--and I am a bit disdainful in public because it's not my job to hold that goddamn flame--but I will honor and adore that person because I loved him.

I'm coming from the purest place possible, and it's not an exorcism. It's intent. I'm delivering something. You know what? People change. Bob Dylan went fucking electric. His Albert Hall concert CD is so brilliant. You can hear the shout of "Judas" really loud. The betrayal is palpable. Tonight, we segued "Pretty on the Inside" into our most pop song "Heaven Tonight." They're the same, in some ways. One's based in this fury and anger and hate and real self-loathing and one's based in this incredible fucking moment of feeling I was loved. For me to be able to express that is breaking down such a wall of my own training. It's like Kurt firing Jason, having the balls to say, "Hey, I don't want to be Soundgarden, I want to be myself." It's almost impossible to write about love if you're intelligent. I woke up in Las Vegas the other morning and started wondering whether Shania Twain had done six miles on the treadmaster of hate.