Capital Times – Bob Mould Feature
Bob Mould’s back in Madison, and he couldn’t be happier
JOSHUA M. MILLER | Special to the Cap Times Apr 19, 2016
To say that Bob Mould is excited to play the Majestic Theater on Wednesday would be an understatement.
The former Husker Dü frontman estimated that it’s been close to a decade since his last performance in the city; a striking fact since at one point it was one of his frequent stomping grounds. When it came to booking his upcoming tour to support his latest album “Patch the Sky,” his desire to return to Madison was so great that he made the show his tour opener.
“We have shows in Minneapolis a couple days later and I asked the office and said ‘Do you think there’s any chance that Madison would be interested in having us this time?’ And they were really responsive to it,” Mould said.
He’s looking forward to seeing how much the city has changed or stayed the same since the last time he performed. But he’s confident it won’t take long to feel at home.
“It’s funny because back in the ‘80s when Husker Dü was going on I was hanging out in Madison a lot,” Mould said. “There were the (Madison band) Tar Babies and all the bands from that time were all good friends. The connection between Minneapolis and Madison back then was pretty huge so it’s always been a great place to play and it just worked out this time.”
It’s particularly fitting that he’s playing a few days after the “The Smart Studios Story” documentary premiered at the Wisconsin Film Festival, since he has history with the infamous studio. When the studio first opened, Mould worked at the studio with Butch Vig recording a pair of EPs for the Tar Babies in the early 1980s.
Mould said the experiences were fun and says he still bumps into Vig from time to time. Besides performing, Mould also enjoyed watching musicians skate since it was a “really big skateboarding town.”
“A lot of guys in the bands then were big into skating and that was always something to look forward to,” he said. “I never took part in that. I probably would have cracked my skull.”
He feels that independent-minded backs like Husker Dü offered an alternative to “corporate rock.”
“A lot of good punk rock shows got put on in weird spaces and eventually clubs would take a chance on it and maybe have bands come and play on a Monday night,” he said. “And they’d do really well and end up playing weekends. That’s how you try to change things.”
Mould believes the more songs he writes, the better he gets at writing catchy hooks.
“I’ve always had a good sense of how to hook people with melody and words,” Mould said. “There were times in the past where the rage and energy overshadowed the catchiness.”
He’s glad that part of history still resonates with people.
“I’m really happy to see it, whether it’s the Smart Studios documentary or The Replacements book that just came out,” Mould said. “Any of that stuff it’s good to see that era being recognized because it was really important and a lot of fun for everyone involved.”
Even to this day, Mould feels there’s still a strong connection between hardcore and punk rock scenes in the Midwest and said fans have been really supportive of his transition as a solo artist.
So supportive that he’s surprised at the positive attention he’s received for his recent solo albums, including “Patch the Sky,” which is one of his darkest releases thematically. He was going through a rough patch that he put exiled himself for six months to do some serious soul searching.
“I wanted some time for reflection,” Mould said. “A lot of things changed in my personal life and I was ready to spend my time working on music and not much else. Music always heals the soul, and I guess that’s what led me to the six months of creative isolation.”
Mould said the dark theme made itself apparent over time, adding that “it’s not my style to sit down and write a song with an end goal in mind.”
“It’s better for me to write first and shape things later,” he said. “Sometimes a song shows up fully formed. Sometimes a song takes months or years to reveal itself. The album is a reflection and distillation of essential and recurring themes inside that six-month process.”
On the flip side, he feels sunny melodies on the album balance out with that dark theme. He said that it’s something he’s done for years but this time he turned it to “high contrast.”
“It’s the way I choose to tell stories,” he said. “I think this combination works really well for me and for my audience, so that’s what I focused on in presenting this new album to people.”