Bob Mould Strums The 'Body' Electric

Bob Mould is once again performing hard-core electric versions of Husker Du and Sugar songs.
Bob Mould is once again performing hard-core electric versions of Husker Du and Sugar songs. (Nasty Little Man)
By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 7, 2005

BOB MOULD'S new album, "Body of Song," has garnered increased attention because it features him serving up rock guitar and loud music for the first time in seven years. During that time, the frequently frenetic frontman of hard-core punk pioneers Husker Du and grungy power pop trio Sugar seemed much more interested in pursuing the danceable pulse of electronic music.

Now, in his first band tour since 1998's Last Dog and Pony Show -- that tour name implying Mould was retiring his rock persona -- he's showcasing songs from his entire career, the first time he has ever done that with a full band.

Maybe Mould should call this tour "Body of Work."

Certainly, fans wanted to hear the older songs, and Mould revisited some in his solo concerts. But his latter bands always focused on current material, and Mould specifically refused to dip into the Du bag, mostly because of bad memories relating to that band's breakup and his fractious relationship with drummer Grant Hart, Du's other principal songwriter.

"It's a big deal to some people," says the now-Washington-based Mould, acknowledging hard-core fans' reaction to his willingness to revisit the past. "To me, it's just that I'm getting comfortable with my legacy. The fact is, I don't hold the electric guitar-bass-drum version of Husker Du stuff sacred anymore because there's no good reason to -- they're just my songs.

"And they sound so much better with Brendan playing drums," he adds, referring to Brendan Canty of on-hiatus Fugazi.

Which sounds suspiciously like a dig at Hart.

"It's not mean if it's true," Mould says evenly.

Mould has known Canty for years. After all, both Husker Du and Fugazi are charter members of the Iconic American Punk Band Club. In fact, Mould notes wryly, "there's a few promoters out there who are taking advantage of the lineup in their advertising, which makes it look like we're an '80s hair band! People should know better."

But, Mould adds, he didn't get to know Canty personally until he moved to Washington three years ago. They first collaborated last year on the film "Burn to Shine," Canty producing and Christopher Green directing Mould in a solo performance of Sugar's "Hoover Dam" in a Bethesda house that was then burned down (all on the up-and-up: It was a training exercise for the county fire department).

When Mould decided to put a band together, Canty was an obvious choice, though the drummer had to do some serious iPod listening to familiarize himself with those Husker Du and Sugar oldies. Mould insists Canty "knows the essence of it, he just needed to get the structure down."

Although Mould is reconnecting to band versions of his Husker Du material, don't expect that band to reunite in the manner of such similarly contentious '80s groups as the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. Though it was named after a classic Danish matching and memory board game -- Husker Du means "do you remember?" -- Mould seems intent on forgetting since the Minneapolis band's breakup in 1988. He and Hart had no contact for 17 years before sharing a stage last October at a benefit for Karl Mueller, the bassist for Soul Asylum, one of numerous Minnesota indie bands influenced by the Huskers. (Mueller died of cancer in June.) They performed two Husker Du songs -- the Hart-penned "Never Talking to You Again" from "Zen Arcade," and Mould's "Hardly Getting Over It" from "Candy Apple Grey" -- and those titles proved ironically accurate.

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