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  The Toronto Star Music Story  
August 11, 2000   [Toronto Star]
A rock fairy tale

Melissa Auf Der Maur turns up in Pumpkinland

By Ben Rayner
Toronto Star Pop Music Critic

Our inferiority-complexed little country loves to hear those ``Canadian girl makes good'' stories, and few have patriotically obliged with as many good yarns as Montreal native Melissa Auf Der Maur.

Many a starving musician would trade valuable limbs for the steep upward trajectory the affable bassist's career has followed over the past few years.

Six years ago, Auf Der Maur, then 22, was toiling in the Montreal underground with the overlooked psychedelic-sludge outfit Tinker when she signed on as the mercurial Courtney Love's sidekick in Hole.

Several years of touring and work on that band's Celebrity Skin album followed, but Auf Der Maur bid an amicable farewell to Hole following the group's cross-Canada swing with Edgefest last summer.

Within weeks, she got a call from old ``pen-pal friend'' and ruling Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan. Bassist D'arcy Wretzky had just been dismissed from the band and Corgan, unaware that Auf Der Maur had some time on her hands, was curious whether Hole's Canadian connection might be interested in jumping ship to Pumpkinland while the Chicago rock machine toured its new MACHINA: The Machines Of God album. A long-time fan, she jumped at the chance.

``It's like, `Did I write this story when I was 17?''' laughs Auf Der Maur, calling from a Winnipeg hotel room before she embarks on a record-shopping expedition with bandmate James Iha.

This latest episode in Auf Der Maur's self-described ``rock 'n' roll fairy tale'' brings her to Molson Park in Barrie today, where the Pumpkins join the Foo Fighters (led by Auf Der Maur's present beau, Dave Grohl), Toronto's Our Lady Peace, Catherine Wheel, A Perfect Circle, treble charger and numerous others at the Summersault festival.

Lending some extra significance to today's performance is Corgan's announcement in May that the band is retiring at the end of the year. If that holds true, the Smashing Pumpkins will never pass this way again.

``I think it's definitely the end of the band,'' opines Auf Der Maur. ``I mean, there's a lot of unreleased material they could probably do something with, and Billy's been finishing up some outtakes from the last album . . . But it's a natural course of events for them to be moving on. And, I think, as individuals they want to move on. I think they've survived and gone through a lot more than a lot of other bands go through.

``I'm just honoured to be joining them for the last chapter.''

Auf Der Maur isn't saddened by the Pumpkins' impending demise, instead viewing it as a boon to her personal freedom.

She gave herself five years with Hole ``as a study of the globe and kind of a university degree,'' always intending to move on when ``the time was right.'' Likewise, she considers her time with the Pumpkins ``a lesson in songwriting'' she can soon apply to her own musical endeavours.

``For me, I'm going to get back to where I was when I was 21, making music for the idealistic love of it. I want to get back to the creative part of music making, without any deadlines or pressure.

``I've only made one record in all these six years of being in bands. Now it's time to make a bunch of records.''

[Speak Out]

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