Bob Mould

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Bob Mould
New York City
Nationality United States of America
Genres alternative rock · punk rock · post-hardcore · power pop · noise pop
Instruments guitar · voice

Bob Mould
Mould performing live in 2005
Mould performing live in 2005
Background information
Birth nameRobert Arthur Mould
Born (1960-10-16) October 16, 1960 (age 62)
Malone, New York, United States

Musical career[edit | edit source]

Hüsker Dü[edit | edit source]

Forming in 1979, Hüsker Dü first gained notice as a punk rock group with a series of recordings on the independent label SST Records. In 1986, they signed with a major record label (Warner Bros. Records), but found only modest commercial success. However, they were later often cited as one of the key influences on 1990s alternative rock, including bands such as Nirvana and Pixies.

In the late 1980s, Hüsker Dü broke up acrimoniously amid members' drug abuse, personal problems, disputes over songwriting credits, musical direction, and the suicide of the band's manager, David Savoy. Mould and Grant Hart, the band's other songwriter and vocalist, still took occasional jabs at each other in the press until Hart's death in 2017, though the two briefly revisited their Hüsker Dü back catalog together at a 2004 benefit concert for an ailing friend, the late Karl Mueller of Soul Asylum. having quit drinking and drugs, and wrote the songs that would make up his first solo album. Signing to the newly formed Virgin Records America label, 1989's Workbook eschewed Mould's trademark wall-of-noise guitar for a lighter tone. Drummer Anton Fier (of The Feelies and later The Golden Palominos) and bassist Tony Maimone (of Pere Ubu) served as Mould's rhythm section. The album peaked at number 127 on the Billboard 200 chart, and the single "See a Little Light" reached number 4 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

1990's Black Sheets of Rain had a much heavier guitar sound, recalling Hüsker Dü's louder, angrier moments. According to the liner notes for the 2012 re-release of Sugar's Copper Blue, Creation Records president Alan McGee verified that total album sales were 7,000 copies. Still, the album peaked at number 123 on the Billboard 200 chart, and the single "It's Too Late" reached number 10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Mould also co-founded a record label, Singles Only Label, with Coyote Records label founder Steve Fallon. The label released singles from bands such as Daniel Johnston, Grant Lee Buffalo, Moby, Mojo Nixon, Morphine, Nikki Sudden, and R. Stevie Moore from 1989 to 1994.

Sugar (1992–1995)[edit | edit source]

Mould then formed the group Sugar, with bassist David Barbe and drummer Malcolm Travis. Along with extensive touring, Sugar released two albums, an EP and a B-sides collection before breaking up. 1992's Copper Blue was named as NME's 1992 Album of the Year, and was Mould's most successful commercial album, selling nearly 300,000 copies.

While in the band Sugar, in 1993 he contributed the track "Can't Fight It" as a solo artist to the AIDS Benefit Album No Alternative produced by the Red Hot Organization. In 1994, he recorded "Turning of the Tide" for Beat The Retreat, a tribute album to the English guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson.

Second solo period (1996–present)[edit | edit source]

In 1996, Mould returned to solo recording, releasing a self-titled album in 1996 on Rykodisc, often referred to as Hubcap because of the cover photo. Mould played all of the instruments himself, and programmed the drums instead of using a real drummer. The album peaked at number 101 on the Billboard 200 chart, and number 1 on the Heatseekers chart.

In 1998, Mould released The Last Dog and Pony Show, his final album on Rykodisc (who had released all of the Sugar albums in the U.S.). The album was named as such because Mould decided that the tour that followed would be his "last electric band tour."

After the tour, Mould took a break from the music world to get involved with another passion of his, professional wrestling, when he joined WCW as a scriptwriter in 1999 for a brief period. Creative differences with some of the other writers led to Mould's leaving the company and returning to music. The liner notes for the 2002 album Modulate thank some of the wrestlers he associated with, most notably Kevin Nash and Kevin Sullivan.

During a stint living in New York City in the late-1990s, as he more fully embraced his identity as a gay man, Mould's tastes took a detour into dance music and electronica. Those influences were clear on his 2002 release Modulate, which featured a strong electronica influence to mixed critical reviews and poor fan reaction. One song, "The Receipt," was fairly straightforward, according to City Pages: it "can be taken as a barely veiled attack on Mould's old Husker Dü-mate Grant Hart." (In fact, another song on the album ["Trade"] had been written and performed live during his Hüsker Dü days.) In further pursuit of this sound, Mould also began recording under the pseudonym LoudBomb (an anagram of his name), releasing one CD ("Long Playing Grooves") so far under this name.

Bob Mould at McCarren Park Pool in July 2007.

His next solo album, Body of Song, had been originally scheduled to closely follow the release of 2002's Modulate. Instead, Mould worked on the album for the next three years, resulting in a 2005 release. By this time, he had changed his mind on touring with a band, and announced his first band tour since 1998. The tour lineup included bassist Jason Narducy (of Verbow), drummer Brendan Canty (of Fugazi), and Mould's Blowoff collaborator, Morel, on keyboards.

In addition to his solo work, Mould also worked as a live DJ in collaboration with Washington DC-area dance music artist Richard Morel, under the collective banner Blowoff. They frequently staged at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. A Blowoff CD was released in September 2006, consisting of songs recorded together by the two. Mould has also done remixes for a variety of dance and alternative rock artists, including a remix of the Interpol song "Length of Love."

District Line was released February 5, 2008. A little over a year later, on April 7, 2009, Mould released his next album entitled Life and Times in the midst of researching his life for an autobiography.

Mould ultimately wrote that memoir with Michael Azerrad, the author of Our Band Could Be Your Life and Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. The book, See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, was published in June 2011.

On August 6, 2012, Mould released the first single from his first album on Merge Records, Silver Age, on September 4, 2012. It peaked at #52 on the Billboard 200 album chart, #12 on the Alternative Albums chart, and #3 on the Tastemaker Albums chart. In 2014 Mould released Beauty & Ruin and in March 2016, his most recent album Patch the Sky was released.

On October 25, 2018 Mould shared a new song, "Sunshine Rock" from his new album of the same name, arriving February 8, 2019 via Merge Records

On June 3, 2020 Mould released a new song "American Crisis" the lead single from his album Blue Hearts, released on September 25.

Instruments[edit | edit source]

As a member of Hüsker Dü, Mould was known for playing Flying V–style guitars, mainly an Ibanez Rocket Roll Jr.

In 1988, Mould bought a blue Fender American Standard Stratocaster off the rack after playing it "for about 15 seconds, unplugged." The Stratocaster has been his electric guitar of choice since the breakup of Hüsker Dü around that time. His favored acoustic guitar is a 12-string Yamaha APX. In 1991, Mould sang and played guitar on the Golden Palominos album Drunk with Passion on the song "Dying from the Inside Out." In 1992, he contributed vocals to the song, "Dio" on the Throwing Muses album Red Heaven. He also contributed vocals to the 2009 Fucked Up cover of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" He made sporadic appearances with the band during their Wasting Light tour to perform the song on stage, including on the Conan O'Brien show. In December 2017, Mould opened for the Foo Fighters in four states during their Concrete and Gold tour.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Though Mould's sexual orientation had previously been something of an open secret, he was outed in the early 1990s in an interview in the music magazine Spin; he came to terms with being openly gay, even appearing in the movie Bear Nation, self-identifying as a bear.

In April 2004, Mould was a co-organizer of the WEDRock benefit concert for Freedom to Marry. "WedRock" was a play on the word "wedlock". The event raised an estimated US$30,000. Mould also contributed the song "See a Little Light" to the 2006 album Wed-Rock: A Benefit for Freedom to Marry, an album to support in the legalization of same-sex marriage.

In interviews to promote his 2019 album Sunshine Rock, Mould revealed that he had been residing in Berlin, Germany, since 2015.

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

Bob Mould's star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue
Mould's song "Dog on Fire" is the theme song for The Daily Show. He originally wrote the track for his third solo album, but cut it as redundant. The name was picked by mastering engineer Jim Wilson from an offhand comment Mould made in an interview. They Might Be Giants performed updated versions which were used in the 2000s, and the song was later remixed by Timbaland when Trevor Noah took over as host. On December 19, 1996, Mould made a cameo appearance on The Daily Show Holiday Spectacular in an homage duet of "The Little Drummer Boy" with Mould playing the part of David Bowie to Craig Kilborn's "Bing Crosby".

Mould is a passionate wrestling fan and was previously a writer for WCW.

The song "See a Little Light" has been used more than once in various television applications: It was used in the closing scene of the original un-aired test pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it was also used in the closing scene of the season 1 finale for 13 Reasons Why, it became one of the principal theme songs for the HBO series The Mind of the Married Man and was also used in a television commercial for TIAA-CREF (August 2007). Mould also composed the theme for the TLC program, In a Fix.

In 2001, Mould played lead guitar in the house band for the film of John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and on the film's soundtrack. In 2003, Mould also participated in a Hedwig tribute album, Wig in a Box, on which he covered the song "Nailed."

On September 29, 2005, Mould's song "Circles" was included on The OC.

Mould appeared on an episode of Independent Film Channel's The Henry Rollins Show on June 15, 2007.

On November 21, 2011, musicians such as Dave Grohl, Britt Daniel and Jessica Dobson of Spoon, Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady, Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt of No Age, Margaret Cho, Jason Narducy, Jon Wurster of Superchunk, and Ryan Adams came together at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and played songs from Bob Mould's career. During the concert, Bob discussed his then-forthcoming album Silver Age, involving Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster (of Superchunk), and a limited tour of Sugar's debut album Copper Blue.

Mould has been honored with two stars on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue, one for his solo work and one for Hüsker Dü. The stars recognize performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue. Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis," according to journalist Steve Marsh.

Discography[edit | edit source]

Bob Mould discography
Studio albums15
Live albums2
Compilation albums2
Music videos2

Studio albums[edit | edit source]

Year Information Chart positions
US Heat.
1989 Workbook[A]
  • Label: Virgin
  • Released: April 1989
1990 Black Sheets of Rain
  • Label: Virgin
  • Released: May 1990
1996 Bob Mould
  • Labels: Creation, Rykodisc
  • Released: April 30, 1996
101 1 52
1998 The Last Dog and Pony Show
  • Labels: Creation, Rykodisc
  • Released: August 25, 1998
164 11 58
2002 Modulate
  • Labels: Cooking Vinyl, Granary Music
  • Released: March 12, 2002
45 18
Long Playing Grooves (as 'LoudBomb')
  • Labels: Cooking Vinyl, Granary Music
  • Released: 2002
2005 Body of Song
  • Labels: Cooking Vinyl, Yep Roc
  • Released: July 12, 2005
22 37
2006 Blowoff (with 'Blowoff')
  • Label: Full Frequency Music
  • Released: September 5, 2006
2008 District Line
  • Labels: Anti-, Beggars Banquet
  • Released: February 5, 2008
191 5 24
2009 Life and Times
  • Label: Anti-
  • Released: April 7, 2009
2012 Silver Age
  • Labels: Edsel, Merge
  • Released: September 4, 2012
52 13
2014 Beauty & Ruin
  • Label: Merge
  • Released: June 3, 2014
38 5 96
2016 Patch the Sky
  • Label: Merge
  • Released: March 25, 2016
82 6 54
2019 Sunshine Rock
  • Label: Merge
  • Released: February 8, 2019
2020 Blue Hearts
  • Label: Merge
  • Released: September 25, 2020