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MRR #2 Interview, 1982

Here's the text of an interview with Hüsker Dü that appeared in Maximum Rocknroll issue #2, sometime in the latter part of 1982--it seems almost quaint now. I've corrected a few obvious spelling errors, but otherwise left the piece unaltered. The interviewer is not identified.

Hüsker Dü
Do You Remember?

Bob Mould: Guitar, Vocals
Greg Norton: Bass
Grant Hart: Drums, Vocals

MRR: How long have you guys been playing together?

Bob: We have been a band for over three years now. In our original form.

MRR: You must have seen a lot of changes in the Minneapolis scene since then.

Bob: Yeah, club turnover, a lot of bands that you'd think, "Jeez, these guys have got it made; in a year they will be on top" and instead they just disappear.

Bob: Minneapolis is a strange town. Geographically it's split by the Mississippi River, so a lot of people wonder whether the music is influenced by the west coast or by the east coast, New York-art cancer type stuff. And then there's a contingent that think they're Huntington Beach clones. So it's a pretty weird place in that sense.

MRR: Do you think the film "The Decline of Western Civilization" has influenced a lot of kids to either start bands or get into hardcore kind of music?

Grant: Well, we've never seen it, but I guess you can say, to a degree, it may have influenced some kids. Actually, it was playing somewhere just as we had left to go on tour but we missed it.

MRR: You have been playing pretty much the same music since you began, haven't you?

Bob: We have been doing what is supposedly called "Hardcore" since three years ago.

MRR: How have audiences reacted to you on tour?

Greg: A lot of times, if the audience has never heard of us before or never seen us, I think we confuse them. I'm not sure.

Bob: I don't know. What do you think crowds think the first time they see us? (motioning to Biafra, who happens to be in the room)

Biafra: Umm, I think it's more a case of like standing in the dentist's office waiting to be drilled on and not knowing what's going to happen next. There are a lot of people who dance at first, and then realize that maybe this just wasn't familiar and then stopped. People do not go to the back of the room and talk to their friends, they just kind of freeze.

Greg: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Bob: If you have heard our album at all, there's that non-stop part on it that's a good example of what we play like. You will get bands that maybe play faster than us or something, but we don't stop. That's our difference...stamina. You'll find bands that will do a thirty second song then take a two minute break. We do ninety second songs and don't stop. For thirty minutes of that straight it can become pretty confusing.

Greg: It's like the difference between a sprinter and a marathoner.

MRR: Do you see yourselves as being political in any sense?

Grant: If you're willing to accept a political ideology, that's like accepting a label.

Bob: Somebody was in the room with us a minute ago and thinks Grant said something like "aren't you glad this thing with Britain and the Falklands is winding down?" and the guy goes "wait a minute, there was this one really good quote that Anti-Pasti had in NME and it summed it all up" and I felt like saying to the guy "what do YOU think of it?" I think that kind of explains our position in a nutshell.

Grant: THINKING FOR YOUR FUCKING SELF. Or else you're going to have other people thinking for you, who will probably do a much poorer job.

Bob: Our general message is "Don't look up to us, 'cause we're not the answer." What we try to do in our music is pose questions, not answers. We have our own answers, but they're good for us and not necessarily good for everyone else.

MRR: Do you think the audience picks up on that? Do you think that they really question themselves and other people?

Bob: Well, I think they question everything after they've seen us, because it's a confusing thing. This is sort of off the track, but, like the best way in terms of brainwashing or breaking down somebody's mental capacity is through repetition. If you can hammer something at someone over and over again you can get a message through. I think in a way our music does that in a kind of subconscious way. People tend to think "What the hell is going on?" And they maybe have to go home and think about what happened. Like it wasn't "Oh, what a great time, the Budweiser was cheap tonight." It's not like that. They may have to think a little.

Grant: People walk out of our gigs going "Boy, I don't know about these guys."

Bob: It's nice to confuse them because then they have to straighten things out for themselves.

MRR: What is your discography like so far?

Bob: We have a single that we put out ourselves in the beginning of '81, we have the live album which came out on New Alliance in January of '82, the new single "In A Free Land" that just came out recently, and we have been working on a new 12 inch which should be out in a while.

MRR: There was a TV show the other day and this woman named Serena Dank was the guest. She heads this group called "Parents of Punkers" that is supposed to rehabilitate kids who have gotten into Punk music. One of her arguments on the show was that younger kids could not handle the music, that it would have a negative effect on their life. How do you feel about this?

Bob: Well, is it like not being able to decipher the message, or osmosis, or are they just becoming part of it? There are different reasons why different people get into this kind of music. Some are in it for fashion, some for the politics, some solely for the music, and some just to have fun. It's like whatever level or however many levels you want to get into it at. I think that regardless of age...

MRR: Specifically, I think what she was trying to say was that kids between the ages of twelve and sixteen are not smart enough to think for themselves.

Bob (motioning to a friend of the band, in the room): How old are you Jesse?

Jesse: I'm thirteen.

MRR: How do you feel about someone like Serena Dank saying that this form of music might be hurting you? Or the idea that if you're at this young an age, you can't think for yourself, and therefore, if you go to shows and listen to this kind of music, it will make a negative impression upon your life.

Jesse: That is just ludicrous. You can't generalize about people like that. I really don't want to go into the social conditioning that we've all gone through, and what not, but I think it really depends on what kind of a person you are. Some people are, for lack of better words, weak. They will slash themselves up, and wear swastikas and circled A's without fully understanding what these things signify. On the other hand, I believe that there are a lot of people--me for instance--who will not necessarily conform to society and its standards but at the same time are sensible about our actions. We can think for ourselves, yes.

Bob: As far as I'm concerned, people who wear spikes and stuff, I think it's all right, but if you get confronted for it and can't back it up you had better take it off. And that goes for all the political stuff and all the social stuff, it goes for all the ramifications the word "Punk" or "Hardcore" carries with it. If you don't want to live it or back it up then pack it up.

MRR: So what you are saying is people who spout all this ideological stuff about doing what you want to, thinking what you want to think, should take on some responsibility for their actions?

Grant: I would not call it ideological.

Bob: That's being sensible, logical.

MRR: Yeah, but do you think that they have a responsibility as to how their actions are going to affect other people?

Bob: Sure, that's what anarchy is supposed to be about, right?

MRR: Do you think that the majority of people who go to shows realize this?

Bob: No, but they are the blind followers, they're the ones who are going to drop out when the new Classics Nouveau album comes out and it looks like they're dressed hardcore. The people who are really into it do not care about the labels or the attachments, or what the media thinks of it. They're just interested about receiving or getting a message through to other people, just relating with other people about free thinking.

Grant: you don't find many people, as Jesse said, who wear circled A's that when asked what it means, will give you a responsible spiel.

Bob: Most of them should just say asshole. (maliciously)

Grant: The only labels I care for are record labels.

Bob: Or clothing labels.

Grant: Oh my God, your shirt is from Sears. I don't like you any more! You don't belong!

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