Auf der Maur’s gone MadM

Former Hole and Pumpkins bassist goes out of her mind

“I’m blowing open any box I felt I should have lived in” singer songwriter and bassist Melissa Auf der Maur says of Out of our Minds OOOM as she calls it — an endeavour that has blossomed from a simple sophomore full-length album into a multimedia extravaganza.

“I want to make a fluid creative environment I can collaborate in and create a cool audiovisual experience with” she continues. “If I want to make a film or write 12 cool songs I can do that based on working for myself. It’s a natural creative evolution of my desire to combine my visual art world with conceptual vision and my musical world.”

As OOOM immediately proves 37-year-old Auf der Maur is no stranger to the many facets of artistry. Born and raised in Montreal she is the product of very diverse artistic schooling that incorporated music visual art and photography. However as her profile in the world of music elevated after joining the likes of Hole and Smashing Pumpkins other mediums took a back seat to sound.

It wasn’t until her solo ambitions grew (first under the name Auf der Maur and now as MadM) that OOOM became such a massive project. What initially started off as a straightforward collection of rock tunes to follow up her 2004 solo debut has turned into an all-encompassing mass featuring not only music but a half-hour narrative film directed by Tony Stone and a 12-page comic book illustrated by Jack Forbes.

“A lot of things have happened since my first solo record” she explains. “I sat down in 2005 to write what I thought was a record but it turned into a multi-tiered story. I never thought I’d have to choose between [artistic mediums] until joining Hole. Then I felt like music was first and foremost. Once I came back to my roots it all became clear. I could join a thematic piece in all formats: film comic and music. Once I had that epiphany everything started flowing. I was overwhelmed with embracing those aspects I hadn’t fully used for some time.”

Eliminating her self-induced repression Auf der Maur quickly embraced the opportunity to work in the other neglected mediums. That in turn allowed her to usher in collaborators. From Stone’s celluloid perspective to Forbes’s illustrations to writing and performing songs with the likes of Glenn Danzig Billy Corgan and members of Nine Inch Nails Helmet and Priestess OOOM truly is a synergetic accomplishment. Auf der Maur declares that working with like-minded artists was crucial to her own creativity.

“The goal is to be able to make art in any way I’m inspired to or when those collaborations present themselves” she says. “Not everything works in organized decisions. You want to go where the music brings you. Rock music thrives on collaborations. The simple beginnings may be solitary but collaborations are what makes them strong. I want to be able to create a MAdM world where whatever sort of collaboration is viable; I can create without any borders. At that I have no idea what a next album may sound or look like but I’ll continue to make… things.”

Most importantly though Auf der Maur recognizes that her freedom to express wantonly is the result of a fortunate past. In other words while joining those major acts may have stalled her ability for self-expression at the time she now understands how the experience has brought OOOM to life.

“My aspiration before joining Hole was to make a couple of cool records with [Chicago record label] Touch and Go and travel around in a van; nothing major” she concludes. “What I’ve accomplished is beyond any expectation. I’ve been able to pay my phone bill with music for a long time now and I want to continue to do that. Now I not only feel the freedom and ability to create how I want but I feel a commitment and gratitude towards [music]. I feel that I’d better appreciate it and sustain it… [and] that makes me want to work very hard for it.”