Hüsker Dü Database
Magazine articles & interviews

Conflict 34, 1984

Back in 1984, Gerard Cosloy, later to achieve fame and fortune as Matador Records honcho, had already been putting out Conflict from his home in suburban Wayland MA for four years. Conflict 34 (Jan-Feb 1984) ranked Metal Circus as the top EP of 1983 and Everything Falls Apart as the #9 album (the Replacements' Hootenanny came in at #1). It also included an interview he conducted with Bob Mould, a facsimile of which appears here with Gerard's kind permission.

AN ALMOST CRYPTIC CONVERSATION WITH Bob Mould, guitar & vocals for Hüsker Dü (done 12/14/83).
Gerard Cosloy: So you're just doing three dates on the East Coast on this tour?
Bob Mould: Yeah, just a brief jaunt out east. SST wanted us to basically support the record, and we'd already been on the West Coast in October. We're hoping to come back to the East Coast in March or early April, if possible.
GC: I've got plenty of questions about the new record (Metal Circus). Is "The Real World" directed at anyone in particular?
Bob Mould: Reading the fanzines and stuff, you'll see a lot of kids write in and sign their letters "anarchy and peace," that kind of thing. I don't think that many of them live what that means; I mean, they all live at home with their parents, they all value greatly their possessions, I'm sure. There are exceptions, too. But that's just my view of the world.
GC: It seems that a lot of the "political" 'zines, what they're talking about doesn't have a lot to do with day-to-day life.
BM: It doesn't have a lot to do with day-to-day life and it doesn't have a hell of a lot to do with music. I'm not saying that music and politics can't be bedmates. The song was just something I felt I had to say at the time. I think it holds true that people are basically the same. That's the general point, that you can sing any song you want, but you're still the same person. People look out for #1, first and foremost.
GC: Production on this record seems a lot louder than on any of the others.
BM: Louder? Great. It's a lot edgier sounding, the guitars a lot more forward this time. There are more guitars too.
GC: When you record, is everything one take? Do you overdub a lot?
BM: We'll go in and do our basic tracks. The three of us will do essentially the same things you'll hear live. I might overdub a guitar solo or another guitar track, 'cause when we're doing the basic track, we're mainly trying to lay down a hot rhythm line.
GC: Are yu still using your basic distortion box/chorus setup?
BM: Yeah, although I did use a harmonizer on this record, which is basically a chorus hooked up to the board. It's warmer and sounds cleaner than a foot pedal.
GC: I'm not always sure who's singing on what songs sometimes.
BM: Grant sings "Diane" and "It's Not Funny Anymore," and I sing the rest on this record.
GC: Some radio folks in Western Mass. have had some pretty interesting interpretations of "Diane...."
BM: Hmmm. Like what?
GC: Well, one person claimed on-air that the song is condoning rape.
BM: No, not at all. It's based on a true story. There was this girl Diane Edwards who Grant knew sort of vaguely. She was working at the Perkins Restaurant, which is like Country Kitchen, one of those chains, and she was picked up hitchhiking. The guy who picked her up drove her down to Elk River, down by the Girl Scout camp there, and raped her and stabbed her over and over...it got a lot of publicity. It was in all of the newspapers, a real local thing. It's not a condoning of anything, it's just an account of what happened.
GC: I saw it as taking on the voice of a character, not that anyone would sympathize, but perspective changes.
BM: Yeah, it's through the rapist's eyes. It's anything but pro-rape. I feel sorry for people who take these things at face value, but you take that risk any time you're dealng with printed or spoken expression, I guess. People want things made easy.
GC: It does seem like you guys are taking great pains to distinguish yourselves from everybody else on the new EP.
BM: Reactions have been 90% super-positive. Some people have slagged the production, some have slagged the vocals as being too same-y. Just the general slags you're apt to get when you're dealing with so-called new wave writers or rock critics, or any self-appointed arbiter of public coolness. It's a very personal record, so I guess it's hard for people. Our next record is even more personal.
GC: Is that gonna be a double LP?
BM: Yeah, probably.
GC: So i guess you don't find it hard to come up with new material?
BM: No, it comes pretty easy. I give guitar lessons, and when I'm not doing that I'm practicing, so I'm always coming up with new ideas. What isn't so easy is writing the words. If we had an easier time with lyrics, we'd have 20 songs a month, no problem.
GC: One thing that's bugged me is how so many people still view you guys in the context of being a "hardcore" band.
BM: When we started in '79 we were playing the same songs that ended up on Land Speed Record, and back then there was no such word in our dictionaries as "hardcore." I guess we sort of fell into the category for some pretty nebulous reasons. When we started writing songs about politics, we were writing about local politicians and local politics. As far as I'm concerned, the whole hardcore thing is killing itself. There are so many bands that are militantly hardcore, but still have something to say. There are clubs you'll never play, radio stations that will never play you, writers that will never care. If all these bands have such an important message, then why are they limiting themselves?
GC: You can be accessible without seling out.
BM: I mean, fuck, we've got something to say; we think it's real true. We want everybody to hear it. We'd be fools not to. Some of these bands miht be saying. "we'll never go past our circle of friends," or a circle of fanzines, and that's okay. But when you've been playing for five years, you start wondering if maybe you wouldn't like to reach more poeple, if maybe you don't like being categorized forever.

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