Bob Mould on being in a young unknown punk band touring seedy venues: “One woman who was a regular at the Calgarian was stabbed on Monday night, and then stabbed again that Wednesday. It was that kind of place.”
Bob Mould on what many people consider Husker Du’s finest moment: “I hesitate to say this, but here goes: Zen Arcade means a whole lot more to others than it does to me. I began to outgrow and move beyond those feelings almost at the moment I documented them, but the fact that they resonate so deeply with my audience, the critics, and generations of fellow musicians – there is the reward.”
Bob Mould on the difficulties of coming to terms with his homosexuality: “As more of an aggressive masculine figure, I had very little time for the effeminate gay stereotype. For better or worse, that was my ignorant and sheltered rural upbringing. I had no role models and no exposure to gay culture. So when I was confronted with certain variants of gay life, it made me hate the fact that I was gay – not the act of gay sex, but the image that the media would hype up, or the one I kept in my head, of what a gay man was: queer, effeminate, camp. That was so far removed from how I perceived myself. But I was terribly ignorant of the diversity in the gay community. All I had was me and the media stereotype of what gay was, and the two were so far apart, I felt no connection.”
Bob Mould on what yours truly considers the greatest break-up album ever recorded, Black Sheets of Rain: “The label became concerned about how to market such a dark album. This thing was beyond the “wall of sound” – listening to it felt like being trapped in a large factory that was quickly filling up with motor oil. What can I say? I wrote the songs in a troubled time and the record reflected that.”
Bob Mould on the music industry: “I realized that my business had gotten away from me. It wasn’t that I was being taken advantage of, but I had lost control of the finances and logistics. I wasn’t writing the checks, I wasn’t monitoring what was happening... Everybody I was employing was making more money than I was.”
Bob Mould on forming Sugar instead of releasing solo album #3: “I also realized that the average indie rock fan in 1992 didn’t want some guy’s name on the T-shirt – they wanted a shirt emblazoned with a band name. These days many solo projects have a band name because it sells more T-shirts.”
Bob Mould on Kurt Cobain: “It almost seems like the more you show of yourself, the more people want. People gravitate to the artist, wanting to see deeper pain, higher joy, brighter light. And once you become successful, the business won’t let you catch your breath.”
Bob Mould on which period of his career was more fun: “Husker Du was an eight-year ground war that started with me and some guy burning Thai stick in the basement of a record store, and ended with that guy’s mom suggesting we should only play on weekends. Sugar, in twelve months, went from three men building a stage extension out of road cases for a punk show in Monrgantown, West Virginia, to playing gigantic European festivals with Metallica. Which part of my life do you think I enjoyed more?”
Bob Mould on something we’ve lost: “I went to the record stores and I watched other people browsing through records. Nothing is more telling than when someone pulls that one-square-foot piece of cardboard out of a bin filled with similar pieces of cardboard. You’re definitely going to look at what he’s chosen. You see him pull out the Pat Benatar record, so you blow right by that person. But if he pulls 20 Jazz Funk Greats by Throbbing Gristle, you perk up and take interest in what he might pull next. We’d do this dance around the record store with each other, and that was one way to find like-minded people. We don’t do that dance now.”
…And I’m not even quoting the juicy bits about Mould’s love/hate relationship with his father, Husker Du’s development and break-up, his boyfriends, his alcoholism, the tension between him and Grant Hart, and having Pete fucking Townshend tell him that he, Pete, is a big fan of his. See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, Bob Mould’s autobiography, is a great rock ‘n’ roll book and not just for Mould fans. It simply is a fantastic memoir.
You know what the best thing is? I started reading the book on the same week that Mould’s excellent new album, Beauty and Ruin, came out, so I had the perfect soundtrack for it. Go buy both now.