BOB MOULD

Hüsker Dü’s for­mer hard­core punk gets con­fi­den­tial about how the swirl on the old Capi­tol la­bels just sends him.

Mojo (UK) - - Contents -

“I’m try­ing to stay away from club drugs.” BOB MOULD

“IT’S RAIN­ING to­day,” says Bob Mould, glee­fully, down the line from his San Fran­cisco abode. Since 2016 he’s split his time be­tween SF and Ber­lin, but it’s not the nov­elty of Ber­lin weather ar­riv­ing on the West Coast that ex­plains his sunny de­meanour. “We’ve had sev­eral weeks of ma­jor wild­fires and some pretty toxic air,” he ex­plains, “so this rain is a great re­lief on both fronts.” Mould’s new al­bum Sun­shine Rock, how­ever, is a con­sciously cloud­less af­fair, from its ti­tle to its sleeve’s homage to the iconic Capi­tol swirl found on clas­sic Beach Boys vinyl. “I was try­ing to write to the sun­shine, to the bits of op­ti­mism I could hold,” he nods, ref­er­enc­ing its big melodies, its un­abashedly ‘pop’ bite. The ap­proach was, he ad­mits, “a lit­tle bit against my na­ture,” es­pe­cially for the man who de­liv­ered such bleak mas­ter­pieces as Black Sheets Of Rain. But, at 58, Bob Mould is of a mood to em­brace change. And the change clearly suits him.

Why move to Ber­lin?

I love the city; I have a lot of good friends there. My liv­ing sit­u­a­tion in Ber­lin is white walls, and no pos­ses­sions – a blank emo­tional can­vas, as op­posed to San Fran­cisco, where all of my stuff is. Thoughts take dif­fer­ent paths when you have most of your life in front of you. Ber­lin’s a fresh en­vi­ron­ment, and I’m grow­ing as a per­son, learn­ing new things, con­nect­ing with new peo­ple, hav­ing some crazy times, and try­ing to stay away from club drugs – I’m too old for that.

Is it a re­lief to not be liv­ing in Trump’s Amer­ica right now?

I en­joy not liv­ing in the sat­u­ra­tion of all that noise. In Ber­lin there’s par­al­lels, like the AFD [far-right party Al­ter­na­tive Für Deutsch­land]. But Amer­i­can news is like the open­ing cred­its to The Brady Bunch, ex­cept it’s nine politi­cos all ar­gu­ing with each other at once. Amer­ica is fully sat­u­rated, and fully di­vided.

Sun­shine Rock con­sciously aims for an up­beat mood…

My last two records [2014’s Beauty & Ruin and 2016’s Patch The Sky] were mainly in­formed by pretty great loss: los­ing my dad, and then my mom. Go­ing to Ber­lin, it re­ally be­hoved me to stay op­ti­mistic, and sim­plis­tic, and melodic – to go back to the emo­tional con­nec­tion I had with mu­sic as a child. The sleeve… I watched that sym­bol spin on a turntable through my child­hood. And the mu­sic that was com­ing out of the speaker when that vis­ual was spin­ning was my sal­va­tion – I grew up in a pretty vi­o­lent house­hold. None of this is ironic – I went to some lengths, some­times against my own na­ture, to go back to a sim­ple place.

Are there any plans for fur­ther Hüsker Dü reissues, fol­low­ing 2017’s Sav­age Young DŸ box set? Have you won back the rights to your al­bums on SST Records?

The box set def­i­nitely cleared out the ar­chives, in terms of un­heard mu­sic. A lot of that stuff was float­ing around on the in­ter­net, but it had never been re­mas­tered and it never had as deep an ac­com­pa­ni­ment as [reis­sue la­bel] Numero gave it. As for the SST stuff, as long as the mu­sic is avail­able, and peo­ple are get­ting paid, I guess that’s all you can ask of what’s left of the mu­sic busi­ness (laughs).

Were you able to make peace with Hüsker Dü drum­mer/vo­cal­ist Grant Hart be­fore his death in Septem­ber 2017?

We had a long-run­ning peace, re­ally. Ev­ery­body in the band was in con­tact while we worked on the box set – I think we un­der­stood Grant was hav­ing health prob­lems, but we didn’t know the sever­ity, un­til to­wards the end. That was tough for ev­ery­body. But ev­ery­thing was pretty peace­ful at the end, and the box set stands as a great tes­ta­ment to that early body of work, as did our co­op­er­a­tion at the end. Hüsker Dü was a great band, a great first band, a real im­por­tant band. We wouldn’t be hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion if it weren’t for Hüsker Dü. And I never for­get that.

Tell us some­thing you’ve never told an in­ter­viewer be­fore.

I have il­le­git­i­mate chil­dren around the world, and ev­ery year at Christ­mas we all get to­gether. No, I’m mak­ing that up… I’m hard-pressed, re­ally, be­cause over the years I’ve shared way more than I should. Hon­estly, I have noth­ing left.

Ste­vie Chick

“It be­hoved me to stay op­ti­mistic”: Bob Mould, back to a sim­ple place.

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