The "90s alt-rock boom never would"ve been possible without the "80s groundwork laid by Bob Mould: Here"s the story that his success lap


If 1991 was the year punk broke, climate 1992 to be the year anyone tried to choose up the pieces, or, alternately, figure out how to offer the pieces. Bob Mould was not among those wringing their hands over keeping the sanctity of secret DIY culture or the tangled values of advertising success. His groundbreaking Minneapolis punk trio Hüsker Dü capped their historical career v two albums top top Warner Bros. Before breaking increase acrimoniously in January 1988.

Mould exorcised (and exercised) those poor Hüsker vibes ~ above 1989’s sparse, acoustic Workbook and also 1990’s lacerating black color Sheets of Rain, but the poppier new songs he had actually aired out during solo shows in 1991 begged because that a little backup. That enlisted bassist David Barbe (of the Athens, Georgia band Mercyland) and drummer Malcolm Travis (who played v Boston punks human being Sexual response and the Zulus) to learn some the his new demos. In September of ’92, the brand-new project, Sugar, exit Copper Blue — a bright, blaring riposte come surging Hüsker Dü-influenced bands like Nirvana and also the Pixies. That sold an ext than 350,000 copies, thus ending up being the best commercial success of Mould’s career, thanks mostly to its fourth single, the unabashedly pop-leaning “If ns Can’t change Your Mind,” which went optimal 30 in the U.K. No exactly brand-new Kids on the Block numbers, but brand-new Kids on the Block didn’t make Zen Arcade. “I felt prefer I was acquiring my early out after a long time,” that says.

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Twenty year later, Mould is celebrating the belated mainstream success by play a handful of Copper Blue shows, through Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster sitting in because that Barbe and also Travis (Barbe has actually played through Mould occasionally due to the fact that Sugar disbanded in 1995 and is currently director the the Music organization program at the university of Georgia). Even an ext intriguing, though, is Mould’s album early this autumn on merge Records, with Narducy and Wurster, made really much in Copper Blue’s image.

After much more than a decade of trying out his interest in run music and club culture, come say nothing of his attention in exploring himself — the memoir view a little Light, which came out last year — Mould is providing the people what castle want. Well, various other than a Hüsker Dü reunion; the human being aren’t ever getting that.

What carry out you remember around writing “If i Can’t adjust Your Mind”? Bob Mould: It’s funny. The seems favor some of the song I’ve written over the years — the catchier, poppier people — don’t take more than a half an hour come write, begin to finish, and also this was among those. After black color Sheets, I spent almost every one of 1991 on the roadway playing acoustic shows. Ns would store trotting out brand-new material that would certainly wind increase on Copper Blue. I more than likely wrote this approximately September or October of 1991; the was more than likely one that the later additions.

I wrote that on a 12-string: I put a capo ~ above the third fret and basically checked out first-position B. It’s a real simple riff. It reminds me a many “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” that type of melody.

Do friend remember consciously trying to create a track that can be a pop hit?Mould: various other than the song, Copper Blue to be a nice hard-driving record. Ns knew “If ns Can’t change Your Mind” to be going to be one of the highlights, so once Lou Giordano heard the arrangement, that said, “Shouldn’t the guitar solo be twice as long as it is now?” and I said, “Not really — this is walking to be a single; it’s best to store it relocating to get earlier to the city as quickly as possible.” We kept it nice clean compared to the remainder of the record. It stands out because it’s no as loud.

Lou Giordano: i honestly don’t mental wanting the solo to it is in longer. Bob and also I pretty much agreed on everything except vocal levels and also tempos. And we weren’t much off, simply that I would certainly favor enlarge vocals and slower tempos.

Mould: This to be 15 month after “Smells prefer Teen Spirit” — the door to be open, anybody could do everything they wanted. This gift itself together a pop tune that have to be a single. Seemed pretty clear that’s what it was supposed to be.

David Barbe: Bob had really detailed home demos of whatever by the moment we started rehearsing in beforehand 1992. Over there is a most pop sensibility ~ above the album, which was what distinguished those songs from the Beaster us were functioning on in ~ the exact same time. In retrospect, that is far much more pop than many of the material. Bob is unabashed about his childhood love that ’60s pop singles, and also “If i Can’t change Your Mind” certainly sounds like a product of the musical upbringing.

Even though the commercial climate for music favor yours was much more open by late 1992, to be you surprised by the hopeful reaction come the song? and was there any kind of blowback from older fans? Mould: It was the fourth U.K. Single and the 3rd video, and it’s what really placed the document over the top. MTV and also KROQ in Los Angeles noticed us were successful in the U.K. The large thing was the video, which said this story, and it to be an amazing place because that me since I wasn’t out as a gay man. However if you go back and look in ~ the video, it’s an extremely clear what we were trying come do: It’s about all various kinds of relationships, every these Polaroids, including one the me and also my then-partner, and also I turned that over and also it said, “This is not your parents’ world.”

Most the the Copper Blue tourism happened before the video clip and single. Following time us came approximately to play , us were act Beaster, which we’d play beginning to end, and also there to be a mini acoustic set. I’d play “If ns Can’t adjust Your Mind” acoustically, without drums even.

Barbe: ns think that many Hüsker fans were excited around the possibility of Bob Mould gift in one more rock band. It is also worth noting that the fans who bought Zen Arcade in 1984, prefer I did, to be eight year older when Copper Blue hit and also may have been an ext open come Bob expressing himself in a different format. I see just how somebody who eats and sleeps Land speed Record can be put off, yet I don’t recall any backlash. Due to the fact that I wasn’t in Hüsker Dü, it wasn’t my legacy to worry about. We pretty pointedly didn’t play any type of Hüsker consist of — or Workbook or black Sheets the Rain, for that matter. The was always intended to it is in its very own thing.

It to be a blur the activity. Because I had come native the Mercyland elevator of van touring, indie seven-inches, and also sleeping ~ above floors, the entirety thing to be a little bit of a rush. At first, I erroneously assumed the this level that popularity and excitement was standard problem for Bob. That didn’t take lengthy to establish otherwise. In enhancement to make two records at the very same time and also touring, I had actually a wife and also two babies — v a 3rd coming soon — and was engineering a slew the indie and punk records when I was off the road. Malcolm to be the first person to ever call me a workaholic. It to be hectic, but a blast. Ns was always aware the I was in a unique position, and also quite happy to be.

Mould: Honestly, once I see people’s faces when that tune comes up, I know that that was the suggest where fifty percent of them very first heard of me; that’s wherein they came in. They heard that track on the radio and said, “I gotta know much more about that guy.” So the song has a lot of power in the catalog.

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Why go Copper Blue organize up so fine after 20 years, come the point where you’re revisiting not simply the album, yet that entire mode of songwriting? Mould: The apparent answer is, I might see the 20-year benchmark coming. I love playing those songs, i loved recording those songs. It was a good time because that me, a most excitement. I knew the reissue would be coming out. Ns figured, why not?

There’s a variety of things that led me back to the spot — working through the Foo fighters , spending three years creating the story of my life, climate the next nine months telling that story come people; the felt organic to go ago to this moment. I was in call with Malcolm and David , however David’s schedule go not enable for what we want to do, and also without David, the was difficult to make it go. That would have actually been great, however this countless years later, civilization have various lives. It’s funny to say, oh, let’s make a document that sounds choose Copper Blue, yet it’s also daunting. We’re no trying to emulate Sugar, simply pay tribute and also move forward.