Melissa Gaboriau Auf der Maur (born March 17, 1972) is a Canadian rock musician of Franco-Swiss ancestry from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Her career has included stints as a bassist with the band Hole and later with The Smashing Pumpkins. She is also a published photographer.
Auf der Maur (whose surname literally means “on the Wall”, with “Maur”, pronounced to rhyme with “power”, derived from the German word for “wall”, Mauer) was born to journalist and politician Nick Auf der Maur and literary translator Linda Gaboriau.
Her native language is English, though she has also learned French and Spanish. She spent some of her early childhood in Kenya with her mother, but after several bouts with malaria returned to Montreal, where she attended F.A.C.E. School, a performing arts high school, and then Concordia University as a photography major.
Auf der Maur became friends with Billy Corgan after apologizing for a friend who had thrown a beer bottle at the band during one of The Smashing Pumpkins’ first Canadian concert dates at Montreal nightclub Foufounes Électriques. Her band, Tinker, opened for The Smashing Pumpkins in Montreal in 1993. In 1994, when Hole was in need of a new bassist following the death of Kristen Pfaff, Corgan recommended Auf der Maur to Courtney Love. Auf der Maur initially turned the job down, but later reconsidered. She joined Hole two weeks before the Reading Festival, and stayed through the album Celebrity Skin, leaving on October 20, 1999.
The Smashing Pumpkins
Not long thereafter, she toured with The Smashing Pumpkins, just after the band had finished the recording of Machina/The Machines of God, and the departure of original bassist D’Arcy Wretzky. She played with the band on their farewell tour, which was in support of the Machina album.
She also collaborated with the French group Indochine on the song “Le grand secret”, jointly singing vocals and appearing in the video with Nicola Sirkis, and toured with Ric Ocasek in 1997. Auf der Maur also contributed bass and backing vocals to childhood friend Rufus Wainwright’s 2001 album Poses on the song “Evil Angel”. She appears in his 1998 video for ‘April Fools’.
Hand of Doom and The Chelsea
After The Smashing Pumpkins’ breakup, Auf der Maur fronted a short-lived Black Sabbath cover band called Hand of Doom, in which she was the lead singer. In 2002, she and drummer Samantha Maloney (another Hole alumna and also formerly of Mötley Crüe, and Peaches), Paz Lenchantin (of A Perfect Circle, and Zwan), and Radio Sloan (of Peaches, The Need, and The Courtney Love Band) created a new band called The Chelsea. They performed original songs and played one show in Los Angeles, California.
Auf der Maur
In 2004, her band Auf der Maur released its self titled debut album, garnering significant airplay on modern rock radio stations for the singles “Followed the Waves”, “Real A Lie” and “Taste You”. The same year, she appeared on the CBC television program The Greatest Canadian, as David Suzuki’s celebrity advocate. Auf der Maur was part of the November 2004 Love Metal tour also featuring HIM and 2004’s Curiosa. She was also the opening act for Matthew Good’s Put Out Your Lights Tour in 2004. She contributed backing vocals on the track “Do Miss America” which appears on Ryan Adams’ 2003 album Rock N Roll.
On February 2, 2006, MTV.com reported that Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin had signed a new management deal with Front Line Management, with a spokesperson confirming they had signed under the name “Smashing Pumpkins”. In response, Auf der Maur said in a separate interview, “As long as Billy has Jimmy, he can make the essential Pumpkins record, I’m sure.” When asked of her involvement, she said she was not participating in any reunion plans, but was quoted as saying, “My services are always there to play my favorite songs. If D’arcy is not available, I’m always happy to be second in line.” Despite her public interest, on April 23, 2007, The Globe and Mail reported that Auf Der Maur would not be rejoining the Smashing Pumpkins.
In 2006, Auf der Maur was included in Blender magazine’s hottest women of rock alongside Joan Jett, Liz Phair, and Courtney Love.
In a recent interview with the Visions of Rock website, Auf der Maur announced that she had finished her second solo album which would go hand in hand with a graphic novel and a concept film which should be released in late 2007/early 2008. The website for this project, Out of Our Minds, was launched in August, 2007 and can be found at xMAdMx.com.
Auf der Maur is also an experienced photographer. She was a photography major specializing in self-portraiture at Concordia University when she was invited to join Hole. Her photos have been published in Nylon, Bust, Mastermind, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other magazines. Her photos were also in the exhibition The Kids are Alright at Sotheby’s in New York City along with photos by Yelena Yemchuk. A book of photos entitled Channels has been in the works for a few years as of 2007.