October 20, 2006 09:00 AM

Sober for more than a year, Courtney Love is working on a comeback album after a highly publicized struggle with substance abuse.

Love was ordered into a rehab program in August 2005 after tearfully admitting court that she’d used drugs in violation of her probation terms. At that point, she knew it was either rehab or jail. “I had no choice,” the former Hole singer, 42, tells Billboard in its new issue. “I was backed up against a wall. I had f–in’ nothing.”

The previous February, Love was sentenced to three years’ probation and anger management counseling after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault on a woman at the home of her former boyfriend.

“I always thought I’d be that girl that lives with no regrets,” Love says. “I have regrets. I’ve written so many amends letters, I can’t even count them. It’s still not enough. Drugs make you an a–hole.”

Love is working on her new album with veteran music producer and former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry, whom Love had called from rehab. Perry brought Love a new guitar there.

“It wasn’t some run-of-the-mill guitar,” Love says. “It had a punk sound to it. But my hand-eye coordination was so bad, I didn’t even know chords anymore. It was like my fingers were frozen. And I wasn’t allowed to make noise (in rehab). So I’d sit there and try to quietly write and struggle.”

The final result, she says, is “a very personal album.”

Says Perry, whose Custard label also features her discovery James Blunt: “Courtney is the queen of rock and roll to me. Damn it all to hell. She is the last one.”

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