Ünderground legend talks solo career and side project

Allan Lamb

Courtesy Granary Music

Credit: Ron Soltys

Bob Mould Band with Halou

Saturday, 9 p.m.at The Grog Shop

$15 adv, $16 dos

Bob Mould may not be a household name, but he’s been a major influence in the alternative music scene since the early ’80s.

His band Hüsker Dü formed in Minneapolis and was cited by several alternative bands in the ’90s, such as Nirvana, Sonic Youth and The Lemonheads, as a prime source of inspiration. VH1 named them No. 68 on its 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock list.

“I’m well aware of all the things I’ve done and people never let me forget that,” Mould said.

Being more than just a musical pioneer, fusing punk rock, hard-core and alternative, Hüsker Dü was part of a much larger movement of an underground, do-it-yourself mindset.

“Hüsker Dü is one of dozens of bands around the country who had the same idea and didn’t know it,” Mould said. “I think all of us in our own little towns were frustrated with where music was and what the live music had become.”

Mould said most of these bands’ first shows were at any building they could find — garages, gyms, basements — and they advertised shows with fliers and promoted their music fan-zines.

“Sometimes the only way you’d know when and where the next show was is if you were at the last one,” he said.

Hüsker Dü, along with other experimenters such as Black Flag, Minor Threat and several others in the movement, was documented in a book by Michael Azerrad called Our Band Could Be Your Life. Mould said that mindset is relevant for any time or place.

“If you’re sick of the things around you, do something about it,” said Mould.

After Hüsker Dü disbanded, Mould began a solo career and formed the band Sugar. After Sugar, he focused on his solo material and has been doing that ever since. Not only has Mould’s music and attitude influenced many other influential bands, but his career has outlasted theirs. Instead of a regretful demise, he sees the end of Hüsker Dü as a gateway to personal artistic freedom.

“I think especially when Hüsker broke up in ’88 and I worked on Notebook, that’s when things took off,” Mould said. “I think that’s where the longevity has come from. I just do what I feel like doing.”

Recently, Mould has teamed up with electronic artist Richard Morel on a joint dance-club project called Blowoff, which combines both of their respective sounds and talents.

“Blowoff has been getting huge,” he said. “We just had a huge gig in New York City. We do that once-a-month at the 9:30 Club in D.C. We’ve dabbled with other cities in the past, but have no official plans for bringing it to Cleveland.”

According to their Web site, Blowoff attracts everyone from beer-drinking men’s men to music-loving hipsters to leather-daddies.

Mould is bringing his solo act to the Grog Shop on Saturday.

“I’ve got a long history with the venues in Cleveland,” Mould said, recalling playing at Peabody’s with Hüsker Dü.

“The Grog Shop is sort of where I’ve settled lately,” he said.

Mould has played two solo shows in the last three years there. He said the crowds consist of a lot of longtime fans of Hüsker Dü and Sugar.

“The Sugar records are where a lot of people got into it,” Mould said. “It’s funny: When I’m out meeting and greeting, people always mention their first live show, something like, ‘I remember seeing Sugar back in ’92!'”

Mould released his seventh solo album, District Line, early last month. His sound is a good blend of both Hüsker/Sugar loud-and-fast and his own melodic, reflective sound. His distinctive gruff voice remains as it was in the beginning. He said the show is going to be mostly loud, with his four-piece band, and hopes the small venue will be packed.

“Music is really about community,” he said. “Where everybody gets together for a shared experience.”

Contact all editor Allan Lamb at [email protected].