Hüsker Dü Database
Magazine articles & interviews

Smash! #5, 1983

Smash! Fanzine was a Boston-area publication put out by a guy named Jed Hresko. It circulated during the same era as Conflict. This interview, from issue #5 (Jul 1983), took place during Hüsker Dü's first visit to Boston, in Apr 1983, and was published in two parts. This is Part 1. Part 2 appeared in the following issue.

It's not all just fast. You know, I think we write fairly complex songs.
Smash!: Yeah, there's a good diversity.
Bob: We like these kind of crowds though. This looks like it's going to be a great show. (commenting on the crowd that came to see them play with Proletariat and Sorry).
Smash!: This is a big crowd.
Bob: Yeah, this is a massive turnout for an all-ages show. This is really cool. Minneapolis is sort of not happening with an underage thing yet.
Smash!: Do you notice any major difference in scenes, going from city to city?
Grant: What kind of differences?
Smash!: Differences in like dancing, or styles, or people, atmosphere, attitudes.
Bob: The scenes that don't get a lot of attention seem to be a lot more honest, in general, and they're a lot more earnest. Smaller cities like your Tulsas and your Dallases and...
Grant: Your Normans.
Bob: Norman, Oklahoma. Stuff like that. Cincinnati. They just seem to be into it really for the music. Like, Boston, DC, LA and San Francisco are, like, you know, everyone seems to know what happened in each one, and stuff. And, you know, I think some people try to live up to it in a way. Like the "New York attitude."
Grant: Not only do the people themselves try to live up to it, but newcomers to the scene also.
Bob: Yeah, that's the problem with a real big scene. It's like the rules have been set, even though there's not supposed to be any. You know, like the "social etiquette."
Grant: "I hear they do balcony dives over there."
Bob: Yeah, it's like "I hear they do" this, or "I hear they do" that. "I hear they eat tables," so you see people like over chomping on a table.
      Hüsker Dü were interviewed by Jed and Marc of Smash! at Maverick's. They are: Bob Mould - guitar/vocals; Grant Hart - drums/vocals; and Greg Norton - bass/vocals.
Smash!: What does "Hüsker Dü" mean?
Bob: It's Danish or Swedish for "Do you remember?" I guess it can mean "Can you remember?" It used to be a kids game in the sixties. A board game — have you ever seen it, "Husker Du?"
Smash!: No.
Bob: A kid's game where the child can outwit the adult. That's where we got the name from.
Grant: Yes, you got this set of 36 checkers, and there's 18 different symbols, two of each, and you like pick up and try to match them.
Bob: Like "Concentration," and you keep going in circles.
Grant: Somebody told me that they play it with quarters, so you got like 18 bucks sitting on the board.
Bob: Yeah, you can keep your chips.
Grant: Well, nine bucks.
Bob: So you gotta be good.
Smash!: Is the symbol from that?
Bob: No, no, that we designed ourselves. Pretty much our corporate logo. (laughter)
I wish we hadn't done that, because now it seems that every band has their own little symbol. But it's there, I guess. It's easy to spray paint.
Smash!: Do you get mainly a hardcore audience?
Bob: No. Uh, maybe out here the first time, but when we play out on the West Coast we attract a really diverse crowd. We do mainly hardcore shows, but we have a strong crossover with people who are into other kinds of music.
Smash!: Yeah, you had people here who were into, like, you know, Mission of Burma?
Bob: Yeah.
Smash!: That type of music.
Bob: Yeah, the more experimental, edgy type stuff. You know, I like hardcore. It's real fun, you know, kids thrashing and all that, but I'd like other people to come too. I wish everybody could have a chance to listen to us, and then decide whether they like it or not. I think, you know, when a band is called "hardcore," it turns a lot of people off. It makes it real exclusive, and shuts off a potential listening audience, in a way. I think that's not real good for as band like us, who has a lot of song material to listen to.

Yeah, Minor Threat do a lot of good things for the scene itself.
Bob: Yeah, regardless of their music, they're a good force to have around. That's important to me, even if a band is real average. None of the Above, from Tulsa, they're like a real good band, but if it wasn't for them there wouldn't be a scene in Oklahoma. I like them a lot just for that reason, if nothing else. I mean, they're good musically too, but, you know, that's real important. They're doing something with it.
Grant: It's like you can go and see a band, and they're like real good musicians, and the music just blows you away. Or esle you can go and see a band and, you know, they're doing it, and it's coming out as them, and they may not, you know, know a fucking barre chord from their ass, but they're doing it too.
Bob: Yeah, there's bands, you know — well, I'm not going to name any names — but there's bands that are so timely now that it's real disgusting. Bands that have the look, and the political stance, and the whole rigamarole down. It's like there's, you know, a "punk formula." You know, if you sing about the right politics, and you look right, you got it made, even if you suck. You know if you get kids thrashing at the door, there's like 4000 records you've sold, and if you sing about such and such, there's another 3000 stuff. I don't know, I hate to rag on it. i'm not trying to be negative, but you know, we consciously try to stay away from that, because it's a real limited thing.
Grant: It would seem rather obvious that, you know, these 5000 kids that are in these bands that sound exactly alike, it seems really amazing that they all came up from the same experiences. It's just one person mimicking another person, and then you've got a scene! (laughter).

Grant: "Tape over the mouth."
Bob: Yeah, "tape over the mouth." (laughs). Yeah, but you know, we try not to look at it that way. We really don't see it until we're up there playing. Then we can tell for ourselves, because that's the only way you can really see. You know, you're watching people down front, or you're watching the crowd's attitudes towards things. Then you can tell. It's sorta hard to stand back and watch. This show looks like it's going to be real good though. I was just saying that it seems that everybody looks a lot healthier than places like...
Grant: Like Chicago.
Bob: Like Chicago, where everybody looks like they're drug addicts. Or like San Francisco, where kids try to look like they're real vegged out or something. We though maybe the kids here eat real well or something. (laughter). They have more color to their skin and look real healthy, which is encouraging, because I'm not really into the decadence thing.
Smash!: Yeah, like "living on the edge."
Bob: Yeah.
Smash!: Are there any hardcore bands that you really get into?

Grant: Die Kreuzen.
Bob: Die Kreuzen from Milwaukee. I really like Void a lot. I think they're excellent.
Smash!: That new EP by Die Kreuzen is hot.
Bob: Yeah...let's see, who else?
Grant: Flag, of course.
Bob: Black Flag.
Smash!: Everybody likes Black Flag.
Bob: Yeah, well they've helped us out so much. I like them more as people than I do as a band. We're really good friends with them, so it's...
Grant: They care for us, we care for them.
Bob: Uh, it's really hard to say. You know, I pretty much like all the stuff, and listen to it and all. Articles of Faith, from Chicago, are excellent. It's like, you know, bands that really mean it — not so much bands that just heard a couple of albums and started playing. Bands like Articles of Faith have roots in other kinds of music. They're really honest when you see them. You know that they mean what they're doing. Minor Threat are like that too. I respect them more than I like them, actually. They do good things. You know, they have the same gripes.

Bob: It's hard, though. It's hard to have a new sound, you know. I think that this summer and this fall things are really gonna change. I think people are gonna be in for a big surprise. I think a lot of the established bands — you know, the bands that everybody looks to — are really gonna try to change. I know our sound has changed a lot over the last year. The new album is starting to show what we're gonna be like, I think. TSOL are doing it; I don't like their stuff that much, but they're changing, you know. There's a band that nobody though would go from "Abolish Government" to "Soft Focus." Big Boys too.
Smash! (Marc): The only music I've heard from TSOL has led me to ask the question, "How do people define this band as hardcore?" Because the music I've heard doesn't sound anything like other bands.
Bob: Well, it's real post-hardcore. There's like a whole new thing starting up. The Big Boys are in there too. I think we're pretty much in there. I think Minor Threat is starting to tend towards it: more melodic, a little bit slower.
Grant: Black Flag.
Bob: Black Flag are definitely changing.
Smash!: More bass-oriented.
Bob: Their stuff's more like power-oriented now. They've always been a real crunch band, even more so now, if you saw them on the last tour. Like they're really, really powerful now.
Grant: The difference between a steamroller and a jackhammer.


Go on to part 2 of interview, in Smash! #6.
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