Bob Mould TV Interview

Off-Beat Special, Tele 5, Dusseldorf, Germany

28 Nov 1989

Note: As with the Tele 5 Grant interview, the transcription below is a combination of the English portions audible through the German voiceover and the German portions translated into English by Andreas Martin.
Setting: A park bench in Dusseldorf.

Unidentified female reporter (same one who earlier interviewed Grant): We are not afraid of subzero temperatures* here at Tele 5! Here beside me Bob Mould is trembling.
Bob Mould: Hi.
Reporter: There's one question I've had on my mind a long time and I think Bob Mould can answer it best: why are there so many bands that start out playing noise and thrash, then after a while reorientate themselves to more melodies and harmonies. What do you think is the reason?
Bob: Age (laughs). Getting older I think is the is the main one. When you're younger, you've got more energy and aggression. You hate all these different things, and that's what your music is about. I think as you get older you begin to assume more responsibility for your life and try to change the things around you [...] and your work will reflect that. I would hate to be 40 or 50 years old and still screaming about my parents—you know, they'll probably have passed away by then.
Reporter: Was that maybe a reason for the Hüsker Dü breakup? That they didn't want to be the wild boys any more?
Bob: T think the reason that that band stopped working together was that we'd done all we could do. ever do. In a power trio [relationships are complex?] and I think what happened with Hüsker Dü was that it transgressed into tension that wasn't resolved.
Reporter: But you don't look back in anger, right?
Bob No, but the last few months were really difficult. We had a lot of fighting and arguments. We kept trying to resolve our differences, but it was like a marriage that's gone bad. You reach a point where you have to break up. It's no good to be bitter; there were a lot of positive things over the years.
Reporter But you have a song on your new album called "Poison Years." Isn't that a kind of retrospective?
Bob It's a look back at myself, mostly. I think a lot of people were looking for one song to go "Aha! There's the one. That's the one that says it all," but it's more a song about myself. [...] Yeah, sometimes I try to reconcile things that I don't like about myself, or things that I have problems with with myself, through my music, 'cause that's one of the few ways that I can understand it. And the writing process is really, you know, really subconscious, unconscious.
Reporter You're a hero to a lot of younger bands. Yopur style of guitar-playing was very influential. Do you listen to any of them?
Bob I hear some of them, a lot of the newer bands. I can tell that they've listened to things that I've done. I listen to Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, Pixies, Mudhoney. I like them, but i've moved toward a different style. I must say that I'm glad there are other people who continue to do this stuff. Of course, I can still play that way...maybe I'll do it tonight
Reporter Are you a folk musician underneath, inside you? Workbook sounds folky I think
Bob Yes. Workbook was the first opportunity to show people how my songs are actually written. With Hüsker Dü we composed a lot of songs on acoustic instruments, but performed them on electric ones—that was our style. On my new album, you can hear the basic instruments too: [something about "Whichever Way The Wind Blows" was lost here.] A song like "Sinners An Their Repentances," wherer it was written on acoustic guitar, that would be the presentation. I think what happens is that it just gives it a more personal feel, at least for me, and I'm hoping that translates to the listener as well—that this is the way the song was conceived. As for folk music, everybody does folk music. I think that for people to claim that popular music is anything but folk music is a little pretentious.
Reporter Two years ago you dropped out of the music scene, buying a farm in Minnesota and breeding chickens. Why did you go back into the rock ''n' roll business?
Bob It's a long thing. I moved up there right before the Hüsker Dü split. I wanted to isolate from city life and the social scene, and from the music business in general. It had become real aggravating. I was beginning to forget why I liked music at all.
Reporter Where do you think music is headed in the next decade
Bob In the 90s, given the way technology is speeding up, I think the balance will shift. Now you can make music at home with your computer. In the early 80s there were so many independent guitar bands; now everything's on major labels—everything's on CD, this and that. I think in the 90s you're gonna find a lot of people making music at home, outside the music industry; they'll develop a kind of network, some kind of new independent network. On the other hand, the music industry will continue to grow larger and larger. Many bands in that independent network won't use studios for their recordings because they'll have all their own equipment, which will be available anywhere. As for the styles of music in the 90s, I have no idea at all.
Reporter You live in New York now?
Bob I'm living in New York now, in a small apartment; I sold my farm. I'm living there to gather ideas for songs. New York is pretty exciting for me at the moment. Lots of things are going on right now and we're real excited about it—the possibility of collaborating with a lot of people on different projects, even some from the movie industry. I can do a lot of things there that I couldn't do in Minneapolis; I spent 11 years there, and most people knew me for only one thing. So, I think to move away you can sort of re-establish yourself any way that you want, and take on a new personality.
Reporter Thank you! I wish you luck.
Bob Bye bye.

*Understood to be Celsius by everyone except possibly a few of us backward Americans, whose country clings stubbornly to the Fahrenheit scale.