Bob Mould: My Life in 15 Songs

Indie-rock vet surveys Hüsker Dü hardcore ragers, electronica-informed solo experiments and more

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Hüsker Dü, "Chartered Trips" (1984)

I don't remember what fanzine it was, but if you go back to [1983's] Metal Circus, I said, "The next record will be even bigger. Something nobody in hardcore has ever done before." I said that not knowing what the fuck I was saying or what we were doing. Then you say it, and it just happens. There were no board meetings or PowerPoint presentations for Zen Arcade. It's just shit you do: "Oh, let's make a concept record! Let's create some fictional characters and have an arc." It's a less structured version of a Broadway musical.

Zen Arcade was pretty bold. I was tired of all the fucking rules everyone made. I said, "I'm going to go over there with my Byrds and H.P. Lovecraft albums," which I was finding at Goodwill stores at the time. As personal and autobiographical as people like to make Zen Arcade out to be, there was also a lot of playful psychedelic gibberish on there that gives it color and texture that was not in a lot of people's music in 1983 when we recorded it.

By this time we're years deeper into our journey. Touring all over the U.S., constantly. Down to Texas and Oklahoma and getting a deep sense of American regionalism. Being on the road with open long stretches from Phoenix to Austin or something, I would look out a window and see these big buses coming by. And instead of a city bus with a destination on top, it would say "Chartered Trip." I said, "Oh, that's a bus full of I don't know who, but they're going somewhere together on this journey and it has nothing to do with the journey I'm on. I wonder if it's more fantastic than in this van, and where do they stop to eat?" Simple stuff.

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