Robert Arthur "Bob" Mould is an American musician, principally known for his work as guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for alternative rock bands Hüsker Dü in the 1980s and Sugar in the 1990s.
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Bob: I am an American singer/songwriter/guitarist. Previous bands include Husker Du and Sugar. New album called "Beauty & Ruin". New video is for the new single "The War".
David: Filmmaker and musician. Notable works include "1991: The Year Punk Broke" and "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls". David produced, directed, and edited the video for "The War."
VIDEO FOR "THE WAR"
Bob, what were the knobs on your MXR Distortion+ set at? It was the first guitar pedal I ever bought based solely on being told once it was the one you used but I could never get a good sound out of it.
Generally, 3 PM for both. There's other pedals involved, specific guitar pickups, particular amps. There's my playing style. It's more than just the pedal, but without the D+ my basic sound would be very different.
Bob, the honesty in your book was amazing. As was the detail. How was the process of writing it? And do you have a super-human memory or did you just take impeccable notes along the way? Love you!
Thanks for the kind words. Michael Azerrad was my "writing coach". We spoke for a week about general history, put the key events on a timeline, then it was up to me to provide the details and tell the stories. I would write stories, Azerrad would make technical edits, and as we built up the pile of stories the narrative started to appear. I had no idea how certain events in my life affected my work and my personality until we were deep in the process.
BOB! Do you talk to Malcolm and David much these days? I learned to play drums to Copper Blue & Beaster...Malcolm is still one of my favourite drummers of all time. I hope that dude is well.
We've all stayed in casual touch over the years. David's band opened for my band a few years ago in Atlanta. Malcolm is attending the Boston show this Friday.
Hey Bob, is there at least one of Grant's songs that you kind of miss playing live? And, would you ever consider adding Erase Today to your set sometime in the future? Last thing, your cover of 8 Miles High is still the greatest rendition of that song that I have ever heard. So much so, that I hardly consider it as a cover as much as one of your own songs.
Grant wrote many great songs. Generally speaking (inside HD work) my guitar playing is a little better on Grant's songs. I wasn't pinned to the mic stand and was more able to create guitar flourishes.
Bob, your vocal performance at the end of Husker Du's cover of '8 miles high' is the most beautiful/painful/amazing thing I've ever heard. Do you have any recollection of what recording that was like?
It was the "warmup" track for the ZA sessions. That band recorded most everything in one take, and we didn't want to use up one of our songs for level check. Strange but true.
I know you worked with Steve Albini way back in the day, and I was wondering if you could tell us a fun little anecdote about him. What's it like working with him still after all these years?
Steve and I have never actually worked on a project together. I first met Steve at a punk rock show in Chicago back in (maybe) 1982. I have a lot of respect for his work aesthetic, even when I don't agree with it. His studio (Electrical Audio) is a living shrine to traditional recording. I'm hoping the upcoming Foo Fighters HBO doc will show everyone how awesome the place really is.
Hello and thank you both for doing this. This one's for both of you. What's your favourite Replacements album? Uninspired, I know, but I would love to hear this. Keep up the great work in your respective fields, and Bob, thank you for the phenomenal music and the impact it has had on my life.
At past 50 years old, your albums sound more youthful and energetic than most 20 somethings popular rock bands out there, what's your secret for eternal youth?
Thanks for the kind words. Part of it is me being comfortable with my legacy, part of it was in repsonse to the aforementioned Disney Hall show, and a big part of it is my current bandmates, Jon Wurster and Jason Narducy. Oh — and a lot of physical training and eating right.
Hey Bob - been a fan since approximately forever.
The question: What are the chances of seeing if you can kill Wurster with a Bob Mould/Superchunk/The Mountain Goats triple bill?
Also, you should do this in San Francisco so I can go.
It's in the best interest of all involved to keep Jon alive.
Hi, Bob! First, let me say that I’m a huge fan of your music, which continues to leave an indelible impact on me.
My question is: A few years ago musicians such as Dave Grohl, Britt Daniel, Jon Wurster, Ryan Adams, et al., came together at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA and played songs from your phenomenal career. Did you have a hand in choosing those artists? And if so, what was the impetus for your decisions?
I made suggestions, Jon and Jason had ideas, and the Disney Hall folks were very happy with our list of guests. All the musicians involved are friends of mine, and I have admiration for their respective bodies of work.
How do you feel about the lyric in the dead milkmens' "the thing that only eats hippies":
>Now it's got a sweet tooth for long hair
>so Bob and Greg and Grant you should beware
seems to me to be an obvious husker du reference, and they were implying you guy's were hippies...?
It's cute. They're nice guys. No idea what they're talking about.
What caused you to recently change up your set list? Using "Flip Your Wig" as an opener works great, and all of the songs from your last two albums Beauty & Ruin and Silver Age sound amazing live alongside your older material. How do you decide what to play?
Can you give an update on possible Husker Du reissues?
Will you be playing the blue Strat for this entire tour?
See you in St. Louis!
Jason and Jon wanted to change it up. We're playing 2/3 of the new album every night. The blue Strat is back in business. It needed an overhaul after 25 years of road work. No update on HD reissues.
This might be dumb, but it's been eating at me for years. Did you mean to use the Mississippi River in place of the Colorado River in "Hoover Dam" or am I being totally dumb?
Not dumb at all. The first verse talks about the Hoover Dam. The second verse sets a different stage (Mississippi River, New Orelans, etc.). The third verse sets yet another stage (anywhere a volcano could erupt, I suppose).
My question's for Bob. You seem like the sort who has always done what he wanted, musically speaking, between the way Hüsker Dü changed and records such as Modulate.
Was there ever a direction you wanted to go that you didn't take? If so, what stopped you?
Looking forward to catching Bob's gig at The Fillmore in San Francisco later this month! Thanks to you both!
Thanks for the good question. After HD, I had the freedom to do anything I wanted. Not to imply HD was restrictive, but there was a groupthink at play. After HD, I was sailing my own ship — much easier to be the director. I have a decent stockpile of ideas, sketches, pieces of songs from different eras that didn't fit with the core idea of the particular album of a moment. Generally, once I figure out the thesis/theme/sentiment of a group of songs, I put away the strays and focus on the core ideas.
On average, how much money does Greg Norton spend, per week, on mustache wax?
More than Colin Meloy, I suspect.
@ Bob- what is your favorite "pro wrestling guilty pleasure " to watch? You know- something that SO ISNT kobashi vs masawa but more like, I dunno, a reel of jobber matches from 1993 involving doink
WWF, early 1980's, enhancement match. Don Muraco vs. (can't remember who). Muraco grabs a meatball grinder from his manager Lou Albano, takes a few bites, then finishes off his opponent while yelling "we're going home".
Hi Bob thanks for doing this, I want to ask what kind of influence(s) did you have around the time of Zen Arcade? What made you want to make an album like that?
Fellow bands like Minutemen, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, DOA. The main difference for me was the amount of 1960s psychedelic informed pop music I was listening to. The version of "Eight Miles High" by the Byrds would be a good example.
I know you must get this question every single day, but what would it take to get Husker Du back together? I want to see Du headlining Riot Fest next year, what can I do to make this happen? Beauty & Ruin is a great album, keep up the great work. Thanks!
Husker Du was a great band but there's no need to get together and play music. Everyone went their own ways in early 1988. Some things can't be replicated, and those eight years are best left untarnished.
I don't have a question as such Bob. Just wanted to let you know how much you've influenced me as a musician.
Both Husker Du and Sugar were introduced to me by a friend years ago and I've loved both bands ever since. So thanks.
If I had to ask though, What do you think of people holding Zen Arcade in such high regard?
Also, what was writing for WCW like?
I think it's great that people like ZA as much as they do. It was a pretty daring thing to do (double concept album) in 1984 punk rock world. Writing for WCW: Technically I was a "creative consultant", which also involved keeping the show on track as it was happening live. I wish I could have had more of a hand in the overall direction of the stories. I also wish some of the people I worked with would have taken some of my kind advice about having things make sense from week to week. The company was in a free fall and some of the key writers were a little desperate in trying to keep eyeballs on the free weekly product. I was out of there before the iceberg ate those folks.
Hey Bob! Back in 1998, I got my first BJ during "New #1." Thanks man. Every so often, I play "New #1" and my wife can never understand my obsession with that song.
She wasn't there. How could she know?
You should probably change your Reddit PW now.
What song/album, from your entire career, do you feel is the most under-rated?
Today's answer would be "Bob Mould" (Hubcap). There's some really interesting moments on that album. I was writing from a very dark headspace, I felt emotionally isolated (my own doing), and I mostly composed on bass guitar.
Bob -what inspired you to cover the Mary Tyler Moore theme ?
HD was from Minneapolis and we thought it would make a cute B-side.
I agree with the question posed by indiegeek. I would also like for that triple bill to have a tour stop in Brooklyn, please.
Speaking of kill or be killed on the road, what do you listen to when you're on tour (in the van/bus/Lear jet) to escape?
We rarely listen to anything but the hum of the tires. It's our quiet time.
Bob, Sir, First Time Joy off of Silver Age
has a little trumpet-like bit at 1:08 and 1:15 which is driving me bananas. I know it from somewhere. Maybe you could let me off the hook if it is indeed a sample?
Keyboard, no sample. Thanks for asking.
Bob. Is there an alternate version of Zen Arcade floating around with different vocal tracks (less screaming)? Heard a rumor about that.
Not to my knowledge, and definitely not on any of my songs.
The new Ryan Adams record "1984" sounds so much like a Husker Du album, and he appears in your video for The War. I am wondering if there was any collaboration between the two of you for "1984"?
I think so, but you should ask Ryan to be sure. I haven't heard the finished "1984" so I can't say yes with confidence.
Bob, are you comfortable with your place in the pantheon of rock and roll innovators? Is it something you're even conscious of?
I have a pretty good spot at the table. I am aware of the lasting value of the work through events like the Disney Hall show. I'm pretty lucky and grateful for all of it.
And what sort of physical training? Details please!
Five to six smaller meals each day. Little to no sugar. Little to no white food (bread, potatoes, etc.). I dropped 30 pounds in the last five months in order to gain stamina for the tour. I usually lift heavy and hard but replaced that regimen with running this staircase in SF. 17 flights of stairs. It only takes two minutes (now) but that high intensity interval training seems to do the trick for me. Planking for core strength. Stretching before shows. Simple stuff, really. Anyone could do it and would see instant results.
How can we convince you to play two full sets in Portland in a couple of weeks?
The PDX Show will end up being the same amount of songs without the 30 minute break.
On a scale of £1-£5, how much money do I have to pay you to play New Day Rising and Little Glass Pill at the London date of the UK Tour?
This would be in addition to the ticket, yes? Kidding. Depends on how we're feeling.
Bob, huge fan of all your work here. Great show at the 9:30 club Saturday! I was wondering what advice you would give to aspiring creative person? I love all aspects of music, including playing and writing about it. I also like film and writing and general. What advice would you give to figure out what I should do with my interests? Thanks!
Also, I know your busy, but if you would do an interview for my blog, it would be amazing!
Follow your muse. Figure out your strongest skill set. Find people who can teach you how to build your skills. If you do it for the money, you'll likely end up disappointed.
For David & Bob...do you think Ryan Adams will eventually get himself a denim jacket that fits properly?
Bob: Whatever suits Ryan best is what he should wear. And on that note, I have to jump off. Thanks to everyone at Reddit and to all the folks for the thoughtful questions, and please head over to bobmould.com for all the current tour dates!