Believe it or not, Melissa Auf der Maur used to get mistaken for a boy. “I was the last girl to have breasts in my class,” says the 37-year-old musician, photographer and all-around bombshell. “I was pretty androgynous.” She also had to contend with the whole coloration issue. “Redheads are… unfortunate in their youth,” she sighs. “They’re a little puffy.”

Auf der Maur’s come a long way since those days—and not just cosmetically. She’s toured with the Smashing Pumpkins; recorded with Hole; collaborated with Rufus Wainwright and Ric Ocasek of the Cars and launched a burgeoning solo career with her peculiarly feminine, incantatory brand of metal. After a successful 2004 solo album, she’s releasing a second called Out of Our Minds as part of a conceptual project that also includes a short film and comic book.

Auf der Maur loves the fantasy elements of metal almost as much as the music itself, and the real significance of her new project is hinted at in her film’s otherworldly imagery: marauding Vikings and spell-casting witches, brawny pickup trucks and sexy dames. Though she made the film with director and boyfriend Tony Stone, the images are distinctly products of Auf der Maur’s own mind, illustrating a topic of endless fascination to her: “That strange dynamic between the masculine and feminine.”

Call it late-bloomer syndrome, but Auf der Maur’s entire album is essentially an exploration of the war between the sexes. (Yes, war. Note the Viking.) “Within every woman and within every man, there are both sides, having a duel,” she explains. Does that mean that the metal-tinged OOOM is Auf der Maur’s effort to get in touch with her manly side? “The more feminine I get, the more masculine I will become,” Auf der Maur jokes. To which we say: we’ll believe it when we see it.

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