Interview & Photos by Scott Preston
Bob Mould begins his solo run of his Distortion and Blue Hearts tour this Friday at the Castle Theater in Bloomington, IL and will end in Iowa City, IA at the Englert Theater. Mould also announces that his show at the Stoughton Opera House in Stoughton, WI will be available to live stream here. Mould shares, “First, I’m thrilled that the Bob Mould Band shows had 99-100% mask compliance! We were able to complete the tour without any health incidents. Thank you so much, and let’s keep the mask on for the Solo Electric shows.
I’m really looking forward to this month’s run of Solo Electric dates. These shows were originally scheduled for March 2020 — right after recording and mixing Blue Hearts (Merge, Sep 25, 2020). I’ll be playing lots of new material, some favourites from DISTORTION, and a handful of early songs.
It’s great to be back on stage, and I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday this Saturday, October 16. Buy a streaming ticket, have some virtual birthday cake, and enjoy the Stoughton (WI) Opera House show.”
Fred Armisen was a surprise special guest at two of Mould’s concerts earlier in October, joining bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster and Mould at shows in Los Angeles and Boulder. For fans that missed the Mould-Armisen performances on those dates, the pair’s set at this year’s virtual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is viewable below. (from press release, 10/14/21)
Scott Preston: I saw that you just finished up recently, your first post pandemic tour. How how did all that go for you?
Bob Mould: Most challenging tour that I can recall. Mostly because of COVID and because of protocols and because of public safety and public health. The logistics were pretty challenging too. Having to work with venues at a state level, city level and promoter level, as far as what’s needed to get into the building. I think it also helped when I sent a video message directly to my audience about the importance of keeping a mask on at all times indoors.
Because we’re still in the middle of this and it’s constantly changing. People were amazing on those shows about it. I would say one or two people forgetting to keep their mask up at all times at each show. People have been really compliant. I haven’t had to jump on anyone about it, but having said all that, we were doing a lot.
We were doing a fair amount of air travel. The schedules, flights get canceled at a moment’s notice and that can throw a couple days off course. Equipment breaks and trying to find a replacement and supply chain problems. It’s just stuff that, thats made it challenging.
Scott Preston: When I was going over your website, I was looking at the sheer size of your retrospective series that you put out. When you were going through the material for all the Distortion volumes, did you rediscover any of your music that you might have forgotten about?
Bob Mould: I’ll try to answer it this way. When I was writing my autobiography back in 2009, 2010, and 2011, I had to go back and really dig into my past and get all the details as accurate as I could. So, with the Distortion box, I thought, “Oh, I’ll clean up the words. I’ll clean up the credits. We’ll touch up the mastering.” And I didn’t foresee the emotional resonance when I had to go back in and dig through all the songs.
Different songs took on different meanings. A lot of the people, places and situations came back to life, which is always interesting . I knew the book would be that way. I did not think the box set would be that way. I’m real proud of the way everything turned out. It was a lot of work and a lot of planning.
Scott Preston: I was listening to Blue Hearts and it just made me think about the last four years with everything that was going down with our last president. It made me think… I was wondering if Hillary had actually won, how much of that album do you think would’ve been different?
Bob Mould: Unfortunately the United States has been a polarized political entity for a good 11 years now. I think it really started in 2010. But that’s just my opinion. I think some things would’ve been different. I don’t think, as a country, we would have adhered to the constitution and protocol of politics a little bit more effectively. I’m not a real big fan of scorched earth and that’s what we just went through. Now we’re starting to see what kind of growth is emerging after that scorched earth. I’m not sure it’s healthy either. Blue Hearts was a very timely record. Maybe a little too on the nose.
Scott Preston: You’ve already released so much work recently. Are you thinking about the next thing right now?
Bob Mould: Nope. Not at all. And I’ll explain why. My cycle is I sit at home. I gather up all of the loose thoughts from the period prior. I look at them for themes and ideas, and then I start to write and I write towards making a 40 minute album. Then I record the album and then there’s that four months in between until it’s released. Once it’s released, I typically tour until touring is done. That’s the end of a cycle. This cycle got broken by one year. I am just now feeling as if I am presenting my thesis.
I’m out touring and I’m getting the response to the current work and how it sits with the prior work. I’m keeping my notes and my melodies and my words on pieces of paper and little bits of tape. When all of this touring is complete and I have a moment to sit at home, wherever home might be at that time. That’s when I start to think about what you were asking. I’m in the middle of filibustering the last record. I got to wait till I’m all done. Wait till I exhaust this one and then I’ll know.
Scott Preston: Just, one more thing. I caught the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass set with Fred.
I didn’t know. He played. He did really good. How did that come about?
Bob Mould: Well, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is normally a three day outdoor festival. The first weekend in October in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. It typically draws a high half million people. Because of the pandemic it was online for the second year in a row. They asked me to film a set. They also asked me if I had a colleague who might be able to sit in. I immediately thought of Fred. Fred drove up. We ran through the set once, and then we had a 30 person film crew there, and we ran it for real the second time.
Fred’s a dear friend. He’s a very accomplished musician. In the nineties, he had bands when he was living in Chicago. Trenchmouth was his primary band where he played drums. He’s a fellow musician who can stand on a stage and do it.
October 15 – Bloomington, IL – Castle Theatre
October 16 – Stoughton, WI – Stoughton Opera House (SOLD OUT)
October 17 – Kalamazoo, MI – Bell’s Eccentric Café
October 19 – Kent, OH – Kent Stage
October 20 – Nelsonville, OH – Stuart’s Opera House
October 22 – Cincinnati, OH – Memorial Hall
October 23 – St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway Nightclub (SOLD OUT)
October 24 – Iowa, City, IL – Englert Theater
January 19 – Dublin, IE – Whelan’s
January 21 – Liverpool, UK – Arts Club
January 23 – Cardiff, UK – The Globe
January 24 – Chester, UK – The Live Rooms
January 25 – Birmingham – The Mill
January 27 – Stoke-on-trent – The Sugarmill
January 28 – Bristol, UK – Theka
January 29 – Nottingham, UK – Rescue Rooms
January 31 – Glasgow, UK. – Oran Mor
February 1 – Newcastle, UK – Riverside
February 3 – Southampton, UK – Engine Rooms
February 4 – Brighton, UK – Concorde 2
February 5 – Oxford, UK – Academy O2
February 7 – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
February 8 – London, UK Islington Assembly Hall