Hüsker Dü Database
Magazine articles & interviews

Fifth Column #2, 1986

Fifth Column was a zine out of Alhambra CA. If this issue, exuberant and disarmingly ingenuous, is typical, the people behind it must have been pretty young at the time. Context suggests that the performance photo and Bob interview date to the fall 1985 swing through Southern California, and Doug Nyland -- one of the people involved with the magazine and now the husband of the interviewer, Lisa Muraca -- has confirmed that the show in question was 31 Oct 1985 at Fender's in Long Beach. The magazine was published by Melody Muraca (Lisa's sister) and Susan Rosa. The issue bears a 1986 date and must have come out early in that year. Obvious typos have been corrected, but creative punctuation has been left intact.

Nyland, writing in Sep 2008, shares some thoughts about the show and the zine, while confirming the youth angle:

"Lisa Muraca, noted on the pages, was my girlfriend at the time (now my wife of 18 years) and that night she took me on a great date, dress up for Halloween, go to Long Beach to interview Bob Mould and watch a Husker Du show. It was a fun night. I recall Bob being serious, friendly and [Grant] being like a high school kid looking for attention! He was making noises and faces while she was interviewing Bob.

"Fifth Column was a fanzine that published only two issues I think. Lisa, her sister and a friend started up the zine to get invited to parties and meet people, pretty much. We were all about 17-21 years old at the time and we actually ended up getting into several U2 and Alarm shows for free over the next few tours, press passes, photo passes etc. They were fun times."

Lots of people, lots of blue jeans and T-shirts, the simplicity of Rock n Roll, and where this simplicity burns hottest has always been the underground. The best music comes from there, the worst music comes from there. So, regardless of how many or how few records an underground band sells, you know it's the best when the music assaults at least some if not all of your senses.

Husker Du is a children's memory game. In Danish it means Do You Remember. Husker Du is also Bob Mould on guitar and vocals, Greg Norton on bass and backing vocals, and Grant Hart on drums and vocals, definitely one of the best.

"I don't know if we were part of the punk scene or not. I guess people tell us we were, by default I suppose" says Bob. "People weren't liking us back then in '79, so we figured the hell with it, we'll play as fast as we can and be as obnoxious as we can. We did that for a couple of years. Then we went to Los Angeles for the first time in May '81 and found there's other people doing this. We better think of something else to piss people off. So, we started singing pretty songs, with real melodic riffs and three-part harmonies at a pretty fast beat. And we'd have these skin heads come to the shows, and they wouldn't know what to make of it, you know. Now, we play exactly what we want to play. Instead of worrying about confusing people or pissing 'um off, we just play what we want. That usually does it anyways.

With the release of Zen Arcade, many people thought they had discovered a new band, but actually Husker Du has been together for about 7 years. Their first single and album, was released on their own Reflex label. Husker Du has always been their own boss, even by being their own management. "It started early on, we really didn't have anyone pulling for us, so we decided we're not going to sit around and wait for something to happen. We are just going to do it ourselves.

So, we started to hustle our own gigs, and we took a loan out from a bank to start our own label. As far as the management thing, basically I think managers are people who've had their license revoked selling insurance or something. We really don't want someone telling us what to do. We don't care about having an image. The music is strong enough that we don't need it. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just when it comes down to the fact that we want to play music for people, not scare them or do anything outrageous. We do it because we enjoy it, and if all of a sudden people decide to hate us, that's not going to change anything. I hate to make it sound so simple. I hope I'm not disillusioning anybody that might have a band, or any aspiring rock stars or anything. There's no glamour involved. It's basically, get up there and tell people stories and lots of hard work. Alot of bands like to create the illusion of being bigger than life or being something that they are not. I think it's a lot harder to go out there and be yourself. You get judged by the way you sing and the way you play. I like it that way."

Flip Your Wig is the latest Husker Du record. A natural progression from their others, where the band wrote, produced and mixed the album. This album is showing more sides of them, bringing them out of the thrash music genre even more.

"I'm getting real tired, we were doing what is now known as thrash a long time ago. Then all of a sudden, there were a million bands and they were all doing the same thing and there was no reason for it anymore. It got real skin head, then real escape, then it got real surf, all these passions, all these justifications. It's like, you couldn't just say, I like playing fast, that wasn't enough. You had to be a homosexual, vegetarian, skin head that was a card carrying communist. All these criteria for being in a band that made 20 bucks a week."

"For recording, we do what we do live, in one take, and build on that. We don't spend weeks getting some songs ready to record. We just sort of go in and take two days to set everything up. On the third day, we go in and record all the songs, then spend a lot of time and vocals and mixing. Just trying to get the right effects in the song. Everything we've learned we are trying to reapply in a different way. Then you can accept all the praise or the blame. It's like if something really is screwed up, you have to answer for it.

Emotion lies at the heart of the best music, often conflicting, often confusing. Relating this emotion to an audience is a musician's privilege, but this privilege can have a dark side. "If we get a real positive vibration from the crowd, then we'll be real positive and have a good time. But, if people are being stupid and antagonistic, we get real introverted about it. They are not listening to us anyways, they're just beating each other up. So why bother trying to tell them a serious event or sing them a serious song? Why bother? I'm not trying to be a rock star or anything, but their names aren't on the marquee. Nobody came to see them. The aggression is not very encouraging.
Bob, Photo L. Muraca, D. Nyland
"Emotions are a hard thing to put a finger on. We do a record or a song, we're not really sure what it means, what drives us to do the songs. It's a lot of personal stuff. Images that you see or books that you read. It's really hard to explain emotional levels. Some nights, I'm not worked up so it's more casual. Some nights I'm antagonistic, some nights I'm depressed. Sometimes I'm in the middle of a song and I'm thinking what color I'm going to paint my living room. It's different everyday. I have no idea why, probably because we're not E.L.O.

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