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New Musical Express, 14 Jan 1984

[Transcribed by Zvia Admon.]

Iron Tamers

Hüsker Dü Send Distress Signals

by Barney Hoskyns
Hüsker Dü, signed to Black Flag's SST label, are one of America's mightiest hardcore trios. From Minneapolis, aching heart of the Midwest, they've sent out some powerful signals of distress.

There was a single, 'Statues/Amusement' in 1980, described by some as "Fallish". There was a completely crazed live album ('Land Speed Record') which could've been 'The Who Live At Leeds' fed through an Inquisition mangle, then chainsawed into a blurred blizzard of splinters and fillings. (Noise reprise, pt. 10).

There was 'In A Free Land', an interesting mid-'82 EP that balanced fast'n'slow, hard'n'soft, and there was an album last year called 'Everything Falls Apart' (title track a solid gold classic).

But the best of their hundred or so songs seem to have ended up on the current 'Metal Circus' EP, which is simultaneously torrential and harmonic. Three-part hardcore? M. Snow has already determined that 'Diane' is the year's only true love song, and 'Real World' reminds me of a lot of Stiff Little Fingers, although Bob Mould and Greg Norton of the three Dü's maintain the song is simply their equivalent of 'She Said, She Said'. I dunno, these lumberjack-shirted punk types....

'Metal Circus' would suggest Duchamp or Glenn Branca or something, but this is gleamingly hard stuff. Bob Mould's guitar is like the best of Geordie and tracks like 'Out On A Limb' are metallic weldings of Killing Joke and Sex Pistols. But if Hüsker Dü - Swedish for "Do You Remember?" - are the Blue Cheer of the fast lane, they don't plan on being just another thrash in the pan. That said, they once clocked up 360 b.p.m. for 'Bricklayer' and could justifiably have claimed to be the fastest group on earth.

"Four and a half years ago, that was the stuff we were writing," explains Mr Mould. "We toured two and a half months, and the longer we played, the faster it got. We just couldn't have taken that any further."

Today they see no harm in adding a little mellow melody: "If your lyrics are important to you, you want them to be heard. Also, its actually harder to play slow!". Chimes in bassist Greg Norton: "I don't tend to walk down the street whistling hardcore."

Bob: "We wanna be able to reach anyone that'll listen to us, as we feel we have something to say to anybody, though people who are really into fashion might not like us."

Hüsker Dü's lyrics are rather droll: the band is pretty cynical about things like The Day After, As they put it on 'Deadly Skies': "I made a sign to carry to show that I really care / I've heard it does some good if the television people are there."

"Movements aren't the solution", says Mould: "no-one's come up with anything that caught my attention or made me want to do anything. Banners, Channel 5, blind protest... I have enough trouble keeping unity with myself."

Hüsker Dü further claim that punk was just something that happened to suit them: "We didn't see Minor Threat and then decide to form a band. We just wanted to play fast."

In his spare time, Bob Mould gives guitar lessons - folk music and Dylan, actually.

April promises another HD opus by name of 'Zen Arcade' - 26 Songs in all - and the group may be supporting Black Flag's next Euro-jaunt. In the meantime, you should check this wild and madly melodic music. Inside the bigtop of metal, Hüsker Dü are iron-tamers.

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