Friday, June 24, 2011

Bob Mould's Wild Ride

The 1980s were an interesting time for music, there was an evolution in the mainstream and underground music scenes. While bands like Duran Duran and pop-icons like Michael Jackson were at the top of the charts, the hardcore-punk scene was starting to pop up all over America in various cities. The Los Angeles based record label, SST Records, was leading the way in the hardcore punk movement. SST Records' roster included several of the legendary names in hardcore punk music such as Black Flag, The Minutemen, The Meat Puppet's, and a Minnesota based band known as Husker Du.

Bob Mould was the the frontman for the band Husker Du. If you've never listened to Husker Du, you have never experienced the sometimes raspy vocals of Bob Mould screaming out lyrics that dealt with broken homes, broken hearts, and more emotional depth than most of their contemporaries who were about destruction, chaos, and anarchy. His book tells the story of his childhood and growing up in Malone, NY. He discusses his 175 IQ, his violent father, his love of music, his ability to compose music at a very early age, and his relief when he left home for college; his college days are where he met Grant Hart and Greg Norton, whom he started a local band that spent time gigging around Saint Paul, MN doing covers and playing a few originals they wrote; the band eventually became Husker Du. The band's name was inspired by the board game of the same name. The band attracted the attention of SST Records and Black Flag guitarist, Greg Ginn, who signed the band to the label.

Mould discusses the early days of the band spent in a van provided by his father as they played all over the United States. The band spent time hopped up on truck-stop speed and alcohol, and soon he was coming to grips with his sexuality, trying to make sense of the band's finances and record releases as SST Records encountered cash flow problems, and the crowd shenanigans at the band's shows. The mentioning of his homosexuality touches upon his fears in the early days of AIDS, his attempts at a romantic relationship with various men, his long-term relationships, and the homophobia of his father and his contemporaries (The Bad Brains are mentioned in a story he tells about how they stayed with Grant Hart and left him an anti-gay note the following morning).

The split with Husker Du as told by Mould was due to each of the members drifting apart, fighting over creative differences, and the nail in the coffin comes after he and Greg Norton discover Grant Hill's heroin addiction. He later finds himself picking himself up and resuming as a solo act and discussing the events of the 90s, a brief hiatus while he took a job working at WCW, and into the current day as he continues to make music and tour. The troubled relationships, the issues with his management, and finally finding peace with himself while not looking back prove that Bob Mould has the ability to heal and persevere. This is definitely a great look into a fascinating period in musical history as well as into the life of one of the hardcore-punk movement's most influential figures.

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