[FOUNDER OF HÜSKER DÜ, PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING CONSULTANT]
Have creative ideas
Have a friend of a friend on the inside
Be a former member of a revolutionary hardcore/postpunk band
Have total mastery over the history of wrestling in the United States
Bob Mould was born in 1960 in a small town in New York near the Canadian border. Little is known about his upbringing but that he listened to Revolver and the music of the Byrds on a small, portable phonograph and (though not necessarily as a result) developed a deep passion for the artfully predetermined craft of professional wrestling. Perhaps because the Canadian temperature was too forgiving, Mould traveled to Minnesota to attend college in 1979, where he met Grant Hart and Greg Norton. Under the influence of enough amphetamines to bring a small European nation to its knees, the three young men formed a band called Hüsker Dü, after the Scandinavian board game, and recorded the live album Land Speed Record, which featured an unprecedented seventeen songs in just twenty-six minutes. Though virtually unlistenable, the record marked Hüsker Dü as one of the most aggressive and unpredictable hardcore bands of its time—an era that included Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Black Flag.
Something happened, though, over the next few years. While their peers burned out one by one in brilliant, coruscant plumes, the members of Hüsker Dü began to slowly sand away the willfully abrasive surface of American hardcore music to discover the buried remains of the early psychedelic rock and pop music Mould and his bandmates had absorbed as children. Without sacrificing the chaotic fervor that gave life to the form, Hüsker Dü redefined and reengineered hardcore by exposing the pop endoskeleton that girded the static squall of the breathtaking new movement. They were the first American independent band to cross over to the shadowy world of the major record label, and their traumatic experience with Warner Brothers Records, which eventually contributed to their demise in January 1988, would serve as an object lesson for the hordes of like-minded bands they left in their wake.
Mould went on to release a slew of solo albums, and spent the early 1990s fronting the band Sugar, competing with young bands whose sound he’d practically invented. Mould’s passion for wrestling never waned—throughout the ’80s, he occasionally filled in as a referee and kept close ties to the wrestling community. Jesse “The Body” Ventura was occasionally spotted at Hüsker Dü shows although there is no consensus about his degree of participation in the mosh pit. In 1999, Mould took a break from music to work as a consultant for Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling, an experience he describes as “kind of kooky.” His latest solo album is a confident return to form entitled Body of Song.
THE BELIEVER: You’ve often been called upon to talk about why you always write about depression, and your answer, at least around the time of Workbook, was that you try to exorcise the pain—that the act of songwriting takes the edge off whatever pain you’re feeling at the time. Is “Circles,” in a way, an attempt to address the fact that this pain is actually a cycle that keeps returning? I mean, you’re still making records that are dark and ruminative—it’s almost like that pain resurfaces at regular intervals, always with the same intensity, and there isn’t much we can do but sing for a while to stave off its return.
BOB MOULD: I think, generally, I’m much sunnier than I used to be. That’s a function of age and just understanding that time is shorter, emotions have to be recognized and dealt with on a much more rapid basis. But the struggle never changes, really. I think seventeen years away from Workbook, I’m much better equipped to recognize and move beyond—to recognize and reconcile and get to the next place.
But those things never change, and if they did I would start to worry. It’s not that I revel in the depression, but I do recognize that life offers a lot of beauty and a lot of pain, and a lot of concrete ideas and a lot of indefinites that we have to shape and fit ourselves into.
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