Last fall, Bob Mould had his faith in humanity restored. The former Hüsker Dü and Sugar frontman went on a short tour of seven solo electric shows to work out new material. At each gig, he asked the audience not to record any of the shows and put anything online — and they complied. "It was fucking incredible," Mould says. "It was amazing in this day and age where everybody posts everything they've ever done. I've always had great fans, but what a hell of a testament."
Now, those songs are finally emerging on record. Recorded with his current trio — drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy — Mould's latest solo disc, Patch the Sky, is prime-era, intense Mould, no more so than on one of the album's most pulverizing tracks, "The End of Things." A San Francisco dweller since 2009, Mould was inspired to write the song by the state of the state — and the world as well. "There have been earthquakes, and things can change very quickly," he says, "and when something like that happens, my mind wanders into places like, 'What happens if it does fall apart, so to speak? What if everything collapses?'"
The result is one of Mould's most lyrically bleak songs, a sort of rock & roll Walking Dead minus the zombies: "When the sun sets, I can keep you warm at night," he sings. "When the floods come, hope our house is watertight/Will the earthquakes shake our cottage to the ground?/Hear the silence, there'll be no one left around." Adds Mould with a gleeful laugh, "It's the epitome of contrast in my work — match the brightest chorus with the darkest title. Of course!"
Patch the Sky will be released on March 25th. On April 20th, Mould will embark on a U.S. tour with his band. And on Record Store Day, April 16th, Merge Records will release a Mould-centric issue of a new zine, OMRG, featuring stories, artwork and photos from the songwriter's fans, an introductory essay by Michael Azerrad and a 2014 live CD, Live at Studio X.
The arrival of a new Hüsker Dü online store last fall instigated much speculation about a possible reunion, but Mould is quick to shoot down those rumors. "No, there's no talk of a reunion," he says. "Nothing going on like that. This three-piece band I have now is incredible, I don't look backwards. The merch store is a new way to imagine the assets and I think that's great. There's nothing else I can add, other than people should buy lots of T-shirts."