Hüsker Dü Database
Magazine articles & interviews

Ink Disease #5, Jan 1984

Ink Disease was an LA zine that looked like an MRR clone, although Joe Henderson, who shot the Fiesta House photos that accompany the piece, says it was, if anything, really more of a Flipside clone. This interview with Bob, Grant and, in a cameo appearance, producer Spot was conducted in October 1983, right after the Hüskers finished recording Zen Arcade. Note that there is already faint but perceptible tension between Bob and Grant. I didn't feel like attempting to reproduce the busy layout of this piece, but a scan appears below, followed by a text transcription. Cover of this issue is pictured here. In transcribing the interview text, I've corrected a lot of typos and generally tried to make the presentation a little more readable, but not altered any content. A review of the show at the Fiesta House mentioned in the interview also appeared in this issue, and can be found here.

*HUSKER DU* Bob and Grant of Husker Du were interviewed at SST headquarters by the beach. They had just finished recording a new album the day before.
G: Grant drums, B: Bob guitar, and S: Spot SST producer.

G: Interview take II.
ID: You're from Minnesota, right?
B: Yeah, we're from Minnesota.
ID: You've done a lot of touring?
B: We've done seven tours.
ID: What are your influences?
B: I've been listening to music since I was two, and writing songs since I was eight. So I've heard just about everything in the last 20 years.
G: I was the baby in my family and my older brothers and sisters were teenagers bopping around to stuff. The first song I ever sang was "409" by the Beach Boys. I stopped listening to rock 'n' roll in the early 70s.
B: I think everybody stopped listening to music in the early 70s.
G: Especially the people writing the stuff.
ID: For a lot of reasons.
ID: You're not a political band, are you?
B: Uh-uh.
G: I vote.
B: It can be Reagan, Carter, Mondale but they're all the same.
G: The whole political thing kinda stops once you open your front door and walk inside. It's still your place and you got to keep it clean. Reagan ain't gonna come in and clean it 'cause you voted for him. Mondale ain't gonna clean it for you 'cause he wants you to vote for him.
ID: What are some of the bands you are recording in Minnesota?
B: Otto's Chemical Lounge, Final Conflict and Loud Fast Rules.
ID: What are you doing for these bands?
B: Producing and engineering at a studio in Minneapolis.
ID: Are all the bands on one label?
B: Otto's and Finals are on Reflex and Loud Fast are on Twin/Tone, who I don't usually do things for. This is just as a favor to the band.
ID: What sorta bands are these?
G: Otto's is like bluesy psychedelic bordering more now on jazzical things.
B: They're real rough sounding. Final Conflict are real tight hardcore along the lines of Minor Threat. Loud Fast Rules are an all-purpose band, the kinda band that can do hardcore, country, and quasi-psychedelic stuff. Loud Fast Rules are real hard to describe, just real good musicians that are kids.
ID: How did your association with SST come about?
G: We met the cats in Black Flag in Chicago.
B: It was about two and a half years ago, March of '81. We've kept in touch and they finally offered to put out Metal Circus on SST.
ID: Did you just finish your new album?
B: The new one's all done; all we've got to do is edit it 1.
ID: The album will probably be out in '84?
B: Yes, about six or seven months.
ID: What will the music on it be like?
B: The hardcore is more hardcore than we've ever done, the melodic pop stuff is more melodic, the experimental stuff is more experimental. There's a few straight-ahead rockers, a few psychedelic, a few country songs. There's like 25 songs 2.
G: To let the cat out of the bag, with a double album you can have variety. With a seven-inch EP you can't go from country to (making "hardcore" sounds with his mouth). You can't make that kind of movement gracefully.
B: If you do it that way you can't make anyone listen to it. The way this record is put together it moves moves through parts, it's essentially, to let the cat out of the bag, a concept album. There is going to be a whole bunch of hubbub about it next year. This is because there's a bunch of shit we're not talking about that is going to be happening with it. Essentially the whole album is a story.
ID: Can't you tell us what the concept is?
B: It is about a kid ilke you or me and what kids go through.
G: To give you a hint it's a plural form of the word "opus." (laughter)
B: I wouldn't quite go that far. It has a lot of stuff I think people will like. There are topics in there that we haven't touched on before. I don't know if anybody in the last few years has done a lot with it. It's not about being straightedge or being a hippie or any of that. It's just about being a kid and living.
ID: How about your songs like "Wheels" and "Diane?" Are you interested in death?
B: That's Grant's "Leader Of The Laundromat" thing.
G: I wouldn't go so far as to say that. "Diane" is about this chick who gets picked up and stiffed by some nutso.
ID: Did you write the song?
G: Yeah, it's about a real person, contrary to what it says in the LA Reader. It's not a purification of the rock rape aesthetic savage. I get many of my ideas driving down the highway in my car.
B: We have trouble explaining each song separately because we write so many songs. It's real hard to say which one's the definitive statement on collectivist stamp=bartering or something. (laugh)
ID: How many songs do you think you've written?
B: A couple hundred.
ID: Do your songs still run together like on your live album?
B: Yeah.
ID: Did you tour on the way out?
B: Yeah, but this was essentially a mission -- to get this album done while we were at a peak. We were starting to write songs so fast over the last few months that we knew we were going to have to record imediately, and it was gonna have to be more than a single album. Moneywise we're doing okay. We can get from place to place and eat with the money we got playing shows.
ID: Next to MDC and Sammy Hagar you tour more than anyone I know. Why is that?
G: Bringing the music to the people, meeting people, folks like you.
ID: Do you think you've been successful?
B: We've enlightened a few people. That's not to sound religious; I think we've got something to say that a lot of people can understand. We're not trying to talk about communism or anarchy or any of that stuff. We're just trying to talk about shit that everybody knows, but if they hear somebody else say they fel a little better inside. They go, "Yeah, I was thinking that, but I didn't know quite how to say it." Trying to get people to realize things that they know. We're not so grand and intelligent; we just know what we know. I think I know what a lot of other people are thinking about. If you can help them get it out of their systems, it might be good.
ID: Do you think people don't do anything if feel like they're the only ones who think that way?
B: Yeah, like do you ever think that people you go to high school with are real weird 'cause they just sit there and don't say anything? A lot of times those people are just afraid of putting their foot in their mouth, when actually they may have a great idea. We're just speaking for a lot of people who don't say the right things or something, I don't know.
ID: How long has the band been together?
B: About four and a half years, almost five.
G: We've always been together, man. (laughs)
B: Previous lives. Ten years when we were the Plastic Cops.
ID: What does the future hold for Hüsker Dü?
B: We have to [sit?-- word missing] and talk. Things are getting real weird with the band. We're just working so hard and sometimes you don't get anywhere. Maybe we have to do somethng different.
ID: Have their been any strains, any members wanting to quit?
G: That's it.
B: I quit. (laughter) Yeah, a couple of us wanna leave the band. (more laughter) Nah, no breakup yet. We haven't reached the status of rock legends yet, and it would be real hard to book a farewell tour right now. For the future, watch out for the records, a couple more tours the beginning of next year. We're going out East and then South.
ID: How about to Europe?
B: Hopefully Europe sometime next summer.
ID: How about Kansas?
G: Kansas as soon as we can score. (laughs)
B: As soon as we can get some of that elker vomit wine we'll be down there.
B: No, we're gonna wait for the next station. There's gotta be a better one than MTV>
ID: Did you see yourselves on the Flipside Video?
B: Yeah, that was pretty weird.
ID: You came off as being quite depressed, I thought. Is that true, or ...?
G: We were sleepy too.
B: Well, sometimes if you can create that aura it can work to your advantage, 'cause people will feel sorry for you.
G: Oh look, poor Bob.
ID: Areas of punk vegetarians, anarchists, straightedge -- what do you think of that?
B: I drink, eat vegetables, and I'm not into anarchy. I do what I please, as everybody should. I don't go out and drive around in a Corvette drunk off my ass with three babes hanging in the back seat.
ID: Wish you could?
B: I go home at 7, I drink and I may get drunk, but I'll stay in. I've been drinking long enough, I've learned how to drink. A lot of kids are straightedge; that's great if they choose to. I don't think they should do it because it's the thing to do; I think they should do it because it's what they feel they should do. Minor Threat are a good role model, but don't do it just because they're doing it.
ID: Do you think a band like MDC are carrying the political statement too far?
B: They have a right to do it. They have as much right to do what they're doing as we do to do what we're doing. I can't justify what they're doing 'cause I don't believe in it. They're doing something that was done 15 years ago, under a different guise, and that's fine. If that's what they believe in they should do it.
G: Going to the library and doing research to write a song, that's not how you write a song.
B: If you don't feel it in your soul, you ain't gonna feel it. It's like going to take lessons to play blues guitar. How can you learn the blues?
G: It's like going to soul school.
ID: Is that what the song "From The Gut" is about?
G: No, that's a jilted love song. Unfortunately, no one died in a car crash. I would have called it "Leader Of The Laundromat" then.
ID: Are all the songs on your new double album originals or are there some covers?
B: No covers.
G: Totally original.
[Question appears to be missing here.]
G: I think the statement "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" is a... (laughter)
G: No!
ID: Slogan for the new age?
G: It's social.
B: A rally cry for the 80s.
G: It's saying I'm willing to carry the weight of someone else because I love them.... You laugh, but... if you care enough for somebody, they're going to help you and you're going to help them. Return the feeling of love. That word...
B: ...We're not supposed to say.
G: Yeah, the 80s, let's not love.
B: We're supposed to hate everything and be automated.
G: returning the favor of love in any way, whether more love or...
B: You wouldn't get that impression, maybe, seeing us live. I think we're trying to put a different emotion in people's minds when they see us play.
G: It's just that we love to scare people. (laughs)
B: People think that we're pissed off or bummed out all the time; that's not really it. Almost all the time when I play I get in real different personalities.
ID: Do you think you scare people?
B: I think people think about it. We're not trying to intimidate anyone. We're trying to make people feel something, whether it's fear or anger. Statements that kids are afraid to make. Trying to evoke some kind of emotion out of people, 'cause there is nothing like a band that moves you to either hate them or love them.
G: I'd rather be hated than liked. I'd rather be loved than hated.
B: sometimes you have to be a little extreme-- turn up your amp a little bit louder or scream a little bit louder 'cause that's what you feel like doing.
ID: Do you think people are the same around the country or are they different?
B: The people are different; the country's real regional. People are like where they live. There's no getting around it. People in the Midwest are a lot stronger in the constitutional sense. When you get stuck in the snow, or if you see someone stuck, you're gonna get out and help push them whether you know them or not. Or the cold, when it doesn't get above zero for 25 days straight. You show me a billboard and I could probably tell you where in the country you are, just by the angle they sell things from. B: The people are different; the country's real regioal.
ID: Have you guys actually been starting to record at midnight?
B&G: It's cheaper.
ID: Why?
G: 'Cause no one else is doing it at that time.
B: The graveyard shift. The demand is for three in the afternoon.
G: Have a light lunch.
B: Do some coke.
G: Hang around the boat for a while.
B: But we're just workhorses when we get in the studio. We like to get it done.
ID: What do you want to say to the youth of America?
B: Grow up! (busting up) Don't get outta bed. Stay in bed!
ID: Stay in the crib?
S: When your mom wants you to wake up in the morning, don't get outta bed; get her into bed with you.
B: Kids should just learn to think and not be afraid to be wrong. You weren't born right; you gotta learn by mistakes.
ID: So are you the shining example of that?
B: I'm still learning -- just starting to learn, really, in the last couple years, what's going down. Up until then I thought I knew, but I found out I was completely wrong and had to start over.
S: The thing to learn is how not to repeat the same mistakes, but keep coming up with new ones.
B&G: Yeah, yeah!


      Because of the fact that our tape recorder blew it on the first try, we had to do the interview a second time. Some interesting things that were said on the first time were not repeated on the second so I will try to tell you what some of this was. First of all, Bob and Grant told us some of their favorite contemporary bands. Some of these were: Articles Of Faith, Y DI 3, No Thanks, Die Kreuzen, Butthole Surfers, N.O.T.A. and the Minutemen. They both agreed that they didn't really care for any British bands.
      On places they have played: "DC is great, it's everything people say about it," said Bob. Other good places were Denver, Tulsa, Kansas City (these shows had about 150-200 people). Bob strongly advocated Madison, Wisconsin as a great place for touring bands to play.
      That's all I can remember from the first take. Fortunately, most of the important stuff was covered on the second take. I'd just like to say that the "Huskers" (including Greg, who isn't in the interview, but we met) were warm and friendly, with a wild, if slightly offbeat, sense of humor. They invited us to a beach bar-b-q after the interview and a merry old time was had by all.......

1. Bob is talking, of course, about Zen Arcade.
2. There were exactly 25, of which 23 made it onto the album.
3. Y-Di opened for HD in Philly, 16 Apr 1983

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