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Hard Times #1 Interview, Aug 1984

Samhain graced the cover of this NJ anarcho-zine's premier issue, but Hüsker Dü got just as much inside space with this rambling interview with Grant and Greg. The interviewers, apparently college kids, attempt to be wacky and flip with their questions, but are no match for Grant, thanks to whom there are some moments of genuine humor in this long, aimless and mostly silly chat. The table of contents lists a Hüsker Dü record review, presumably to have covered Zen Arcade, which does not appear; in its place is a review of Disorder's Under The Scalpel Blade.

1984 has been a busy year for Hüsker Dü. They just released a new album Zen Arcade, as well as having done two tours, the last being a two week stint with two nights off. We interviewed them during their first tour on March 25'th at the City Gardens in Trenton NJ, where Grant kept us amused with interesting stories and bug imita- tions. It starts of kind of silly, but gets more interesting as it progresses.

Grant: Can you answer me a question?
       How come the scarecrow had a
       heart? How come the tin man had 
       a brain?
Ron  : I don't know. Do you fight with
       your mother?
Grant: No. I fight with my father
Ron  : That's too bad.
Grant: Well, that's really bad necause
       my dad just happens to be
       half of the world tag team
       championship wrestlers.
Ron  : Do you steal food to get
       along while you tour?
Grant: Fuck no!
Ron  : What's your favorite color?
Grant: You wouldn't believe this man
       but I've always wanted someone
       to ask me what my favorite color
       is. If you had asked me that
       about two months ago my answer
       would have been blue.
Ron  : So what is it now?
Grant: Red! For a couple of reasons..
       Someone gave me a red leather
       jacket, I started smoking
       Marlboros, drinking Budweiser.
       I just sort of tailored my life
       to fit around red things. I
       became a communist, a redneck,
       I got scarlet fever.
Ron  : Why do you play the drums
Grant: It started with the hardcore
       thing. I would do my soundcheck
       in the boots that I always
       wear, big engineer boots, and
       it is like the theory of warm-
       ing up with a couple of bats and
       then batting with one, Right?
       Then I would strip down and
       take the boots off.
Dianne:Who takes the garbage out?
Grant: I always do.
Ron:   Oh, that's right, you're from
       Minnesota. Who shovels the snow>
Grant: I made it through most of the
       winter with somebody else to
        do that.
Dianne: What's your mother's maiden
Grant:  Augustine, which is a
        bastardization of D'Agostino.
        My ancestors were in the
Ron:    What's it like in Minnesota?
Grant:  I walk into a club, they
        play a song off our album,
        I get uptight and leave.
Greg Norton: Can I borrow a pen?
Ron:    Yeah. I guess. You wouldn't
        let me interview you before
        so I don't know if I should
        let you use this. How'd you
        guys get started?
Grant:  It's really funny. Me
        Greg, and Bob were originally
        in a band called Three Guys
        with Skinny Ties. Then I
        left, and then Bob left,
        then Greg left and each time

"A vote for Bozo is a vote for Reagan"

        a replacement guy would
        come in, and then we found
        ourselves in Husker Du.
Dianne: Does the name mean anything?
Grant:  Well, there was Greg, Bob
        and I, which was three guys
        part and we were into skinny
Dianne: I'm talking about Husker Du!
Ron:    It was a game, wasn't it?
Grant:  Yeah. That's how we got it.
Ron:    That song "Diane" is pretty
        interesting. Just what are
        you trying to convey there?
Grant:  That goes way back. That
        was written before "Land
        Speed Record".
Greg:   Are you talking to me?
Ron:    We're talking to anybody. We'll
        interview you too, but we've
        got to get this preliminary
        shit out of the way. What's
        your favorite color?
Greg:   Really dark purple, almost
Dianne: Who shovels the snow?
Greg:   I do.
Dianne: Who takes the garbage out?
Greg:   Whoever is handy.
Dianne: What's your mother's maiden
Greg:   Guzman; is that it?
Dianne: These are just our basic
Greg:   Did you take a lot of photos?
        You were working for the
        band you know. (Since Dianne
        is underage, Husker Du
        courteously lied to get her
        in by saying that she was
        a photographer for the band.)
Dianne: I don't even know how to use
        that camera. That was our ploy
        to get in last time.
Ron:    I shot a roll. Neither of us
        drink anyway. What did you
        think of the great crowd here
        tonight? They didn't seem to be
        discouraging to you.
Greg:   No. Not really.
J.C.:   It was a stupid crowd.  Half
        of them didn't know what

        they were doing here.
Ron:    Yeah. I thought so too.
Grant:  Half of them went, "Husker Du,
        what's that?"
Greg:   If they're just standing there,
        the chances that they're
        listening are better than if
        they're jumping off the stage.
Grant:  Yeah. But if they're dancing
        around, chances are that
        they've heard it before. Was
        that an audience or a still
        life painting? That's all
        I want to know.
Ron to J.C.: Are you their manager?
J.C.:   Yeah.
Grant:  Nah. J.C.'s like our spiritual
        adviser, our guru.
Greg:   Palmreader. (laughter)
        That's an inside joke.
Grant:  Actually, he's out lover, all
        of our's. Why do you think he
        looks so old? He's really
        only thirteen.
J.C.:   I make 'em take me along or I
        fuck 'em, because I'm so bad.
Grant:  J.C.'s father owns all the
        nightclubs in the twin
        cities and he said, "You take
        my boy along or you'll never
        play in this town again."
Ron:    Back to the song, back to
        "Diane". It was written before
        "Land Speed Record" and?
Grant:  There was this girl, and what
        was done to her is what happens
        in the song. That's about it. I
        hope people realize that it is
        DEFINATELY* not a pro rape song.
        I've had people on this tour
        as me...
Ron:    I didn't think that at all. I
        just couldn't figure out what
        you were saying.
Grant:  It's a very real song--
Ron:    Taken in the right light.
Grant:  It's kind of expressing-- I
        can sympathize with a need for
        love and I can take it a step
        farther and see through Joseph
        Tourrie's eyes, who's the
        guy that did all the nasty
        business. It's just kind of
        a--I hate to generate any

*Here is proof that this spelling did not originate on usenet.

        sympathy for him whatsoever.
        through that song, but it's
        just like seeing through
        his eyes.
Ron:    I forget what I was going to
        ask you.
Grant:  What am I going to do when
        I rule the world. First off,
        there ain't going to be no
        paper cups, and there ain't
        going to be no plastic cups.
        Everything, EVERYTHINGthat
        you buy is going to come in
        a six inch stainless cylinder
        that screws together and
        has a wax seal within the
        screw part, right? Soup,
Ron:    Insulated?
Grant:  No.
Dianne: So you get cold soup.
Grant:  You get soup that you can
        cook, but the fact of the
        matter is that you're
        going to save all your cont-
        ainers that all your food
        came in and bring it back
        down to the grocery store
        and that will pay for the
        packaging right there. How
        many times have you bought
        three screws at the hardware
        store in a little package
        and it's 98¢ and you know
        damn well that it took a
        lot longer to package those
        screws than it did to make
Ron:    Like those plastic things with
        the cardboard that you can
        never open up. They really
        piss me off.
Grant:  You gotta punch them
        through the back but yeah,
        I'm really bothered with
        packaging right now. Let's
        see, another thing that
        really ticks me off that I
        would definately change, um-
        you know, I think that a lot
        of us have that desire to
        be a fascist dictator,
        mafioso type, but the thing
        is that I would really
        love the people that I
        dominated.  What's the point
        of being a leader if you
        don't think you could do
        people good? Certainly I
        wouldn't do it for my own good
        because I'm living on top of
        the world right now. I have
        nothing to gain by being
        emperor of the universe.
Ron:    You probably won't make it
        that far, maybe president
        though. Reagan got it so
         you never know. In twenty
        years you could cut your hair
        and people will remember you
        from Husker Du. They'll say
        "He was a B singer. I remember
Grant:  He was an A singer", they'll
        say.  No, I'm not doing this
        to get by, I'm doing this
        to get better, to get-- let's
        put it this way. All of my life
        I've taken care of my music.
        If I were to tell you that I
        am not concerned with monetary
        goals, I would be lying to you.
        If I was telling you it's
        like, "Oh, I'm bringing my music
        to the people" -- Of course I
        get up on the stage for my ego
        but, bread is your only
Ron:    Is it possible to support
        yourself playing?

Grant:  I haven't held a job in four
        years. I live like a pauper,
        but such living makes me do
        things for entertainment
        like jam, write songs,poetry.
        It keeps me closer to my
        craft by keeping me away from
        a working environment. Every
        job that I have had since I've
        been in the band, they've
        really gotten uptight because
        I've had something else to
        dedicate myself to. I really
        wonder if you get that same
        type of pressure on the job
        if you have a wife? I'm sure
        you do. I would hope if I
        ever get married that I
        would love that person more
        than my music, but I've come
        to the conclusion that it's
        impossible. I've chosen music
        over particular people numbers
        of times.
Ron:    Where do you plan on taking
        Husker Du from here? You've
        been around for what-- four
Grant:  Five years on Friday. We're
        having a big gig in Minneapolis
        getting our picture on the
        front page of the paper. It's
        happening. I mean, name one
        punk rock band that's
        lasted five years with the
        original members. Can you
        think of one?
Ron:    No. I've never really gotten
        into who's in what band. How
        long do you think you can
        do hardcore and make
        money, being that you said
        that you were concerned
        with making money?
Grant:  I stopped writing songs for
        people with mohawks two and
        a half years ago. I started
        writing songs for myself.
Ron:    But they're still your
Grant:  Yeah, but it's getting to be
        different than that, which
        will be proven even more so
        when Zen Arcade comes out,
        sometime in June hopefully.
Ron:    Have you ever thought about
        doing other types of music?
Grant:  Yeah. Definately. Last
        night before Husker Du played
        I got up and did a version
        of Data Control with a
        violinist and an acoustic
        guitar player. I'm always
        thinking about doing other
        music and I try to get
        myself into every musical
        sense possible. As well as
        playing drums--it's obviuos
        that I write for the band
        and its hard to write songs
        on drums. I play a whole mess
        of instruments: piano, drums,
        organ, not at the same time
        though. Just banjo and drums
        at the same time.
Ron:    Really?
Grant:  No, not really.
Ron:    I play bass and stand up
        at the same time.
Grant:  Stand up bass?
Ron:    Yeah, you stole my joke.
        What other types of music
        do you listen to?
Grant:  The person who used to shovel
        the snow and take out the
        garbage also tok the stereo
        so I've been looking at a
        lot of records, which is good.
        In my home, I have no tele-
        phone and to tell you the

        truth, I find a lot of music
        to be distracting to my
        evolution because naturally
        the stuff I will hear
        without seeking out will be
        something that's already
        popular and that's beating a
        dead horse to start getting
        into something that's popular
        because by the time you're
         proficient at it, it's unpopu-
        lar or at least passé. I had
        really bizarre musical
        upbringing because I didn't hear
        any rock music in between the
        ages of 10 and 16. You want to
        hear about a really scary
        experience I had? Have you
        ever done LSD? When I was
        really into doing LSD in junior
        high school, I'd be lying in bed
        tripping, trying to fall asleep
        and the most time consuming
        thing that I could do was to
        masturbate. Now, one time I
        was really buzzed and I thought,
        "I'm not going to masturbate
        myself to sleep tonight, I'm
        going to think the whole thing
        through and without any
        manual stimulation whatsoever,
          I'm going to completely
        fantasize sex and cum with-
        out touching myself. Now this
        was some really really
        fucking good acid, right?
Dianne: It would have to be.
Grant:  I attempted this and I did
        it. you know how after you
        cum a little while later you
        feel chilly because of the
        endorphine that's released in
         your body? All of a sudden I'm
        shivering, and I'm thinking,
        "oh my God, if I can make
        myself cum, I can make myself
        freeze to death." So I bundled
        up completely. I wasn't going to
        mess around with that one.
Dianne: It probably didn't put you to
Grant: NO! I just laid awake thinking,
        "I'm not going to die."
Ron:   Do you still do drugs?
Grant: No.
Greg:   This is going to be a real
        good interview isn't it?
Ron:    Did he just make that story
        up? Could you verify all this?
Greg:   Let's see you do that again,
Ron:    Do you want me to print any of
        this stuff that Grant is
        saying? Is it OK?
Grant:  I think it would make an
        amusing anecdote. What time
        is it anyway?
Ron:    It's only 2:19.
Dianne: We have a class at 10:00
Ron:    We can't leave yet; we haven't
        gotten anything useful out
        of these guys yet, and we've
        been sitting here for so
Grant:  You got a good story, what
        do you mean? I sent that into
        Readers' Digest as an amusing
        anecdote. They sent me $200.
        but they never printed it.
        Life in these United States--
        " Yeah, one time I was tripping
        my brains out and..."
Ron:    You don't really expect us
        to believe that they sent
        you $200. Where's Bob ( the
Grant:  Over at the bar.
Ron:    Is it true that you're throw-
        ing him out of the band?

Grant: No, that was another band.
Ron:   I'm going to fuck everybody
       up and mix up quotes.
Greg:  Just remember that I'm the
       guy that said, "you have
       nothing to fear but fear
Ron:   I've heard that before; you
       must be pretty famous.
Greg:  What kind of sport are those
Ron:   The boots? They're riding
       boots. I tried to get tham
       without the spikes.
Grant: It's the jacket I'm admiring.
Ron:   I painted it myself. I just
       did it the other night.
Grant: I meant before you messed it
       up. So how long have you
       studied finger painting?
Dianne:Why is the door open? It's
Grant: We're from Minnesota; it makes
       us feel at home.
Dianne:Are you guys into hockey? There
       is always ice up there.
Greg:  When I get up in the morning
       I have to make sure that
       there's no ice in the toilet.
Grant: You know what's really bad?
       If you lick the pump
       handle, your tounge gets
       stuck and you have totear
       all the skin off your tongue
       to extricate yourself.
Greg:  It's really hard to take a
       piss outside when it's
       thirty below.
Grant: You know what happens? Now
       this only happens to guys, but
       when you pee, you get this
       very long icicle.
J.C.:  Except for Grant's.
Grant: Yeah, mine's real little.
       Actually, I get two streams
       because when I was a young
       child I shoved a clothespin
       in my penis.

Dianne:And they never took it out?
J.C.:  Now he hangs his clothes in
Dianne:These are really good stories!
Grant: Do you remember the original
       Bozo the clown?
Ron:   Yeah, he's running for
Greg:  I thought he won.
Grant: But the original Bozo, the
       dead Bozo. I saw it on t.v..
       He jumped off a platform with
       a lit book of matches into a
       full tank of gasoline and
       committed suicide.
Ron:   Now you definately just made
       that up. There was a picture
       of him in the paper announcing
       his candidacy saying, "Let's
       get a real Bozo in the White-
Grant: Yeah, a vote for Bozo is a
       vote for Reagan; I definately
       wouldn't support Bozo because
       Walter Mondale lives next to
       my parents. The other day I
       was driving down I-94 and we
       encountered the Mondale
Greg:  We followed the Mondale
       motorcade all the way from
       Minneapolis to St. Paul.
Ron:   In your Husker-Vana?
Grant: Like a chainsaw? I get it.
Ron:   That was the pun of my life.
       I'm glad somebody got it.
       (Husqvarna is a Swedish
       chainsaw and motorcycle manufac-
       turer) I thought it was pretty
       witty. Besides, when will I ever
       get the opportunity to use that
       pun again?
Greg:  I don't know. Probably in about
       five minutes.
Dianne:We're gonna walk outside and
       he's going to say that again.
Grant: You know why it's easy to
       catch elephants in Alabama?
       Cause the Tuskaloosa.
Ron:   We know so many bad pun jokes.
Dianne:What do you call a fat person
       who starts fires?---Arson Wells.
Grant: That's enough.
Dianne:What do you call a black
       woman who urinates while she
Grant: Mom.
Dianne:No, but I can't top that
       punch line. That's the new
       punch line for that joke.
Grant: What do you get when you
       cross red wine with sliced
       prunes? Madra, Madria,
Dianne:You're just pushing these
       jokes too far.
Grant: I'd just like to stop a
       lot of rumours that've been
       going around about me and
       Ethel Kennedy.
Dianne:My mom mentioned that to me
       and I didn't believe it.
Ron:   I got into an argument with
       a guy in a bar about it and
       I said that Ethel would
       never do a thing like that.
Grant: Greg got his dick shot off
       in Nam and now he pees in a
Greg:  Wanna see it?
Dianne:No, that's OK.
Voice from the bar: HEY GET OUT OF
Grant:  guess we better go.
( Walking out to the parking lot)
Ron:   Hey, that's my car you just
       slammed into with your
       Husker-Vana door!
Greg:  What did I say? He said it
       again, and he's still got the
       tape running too.

Dianne:He's so proud of that joke.
Greg:  Let me ask him a question.
       What's your favorite color?
Ron:   Do you guys know how to get
       out of here? We don't
Greg:  Wonderful interview. We'll
       have to do it again sometime.

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