Bob Mould was the singer of Hüsker Dü. I was so excited to see his book, See A Little Light, on a shelf at Barnes & Noble last week while I was looking for cat calandars. I was with a friend who was paging through Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, which seemed to be written by Mark Arm, except somebody put a Y in front of his last name. I mentioned that I was going to buy the Bob Mould book and my friend asked why on earth I'd do that. "It's just going to say, 'Oh, I'm gay and it's hard to be gay,'" she added. I shrugged my shoulders because Hüsker Dü meant a lot to me as a lad and I'd already read Hüsker Dü: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock. That book was only told from the side of drummer & drug guy Grant Hart and moustache food-master Greg Norton. Bob Mould didn't have anything to do with that book, because he wanted to write his own unbiased book. I bought the book. It was $25. Books are expensive!
See A Little Light begins with a preface that relates a tale of Bob Mould and his boyfriend at a clothing-optional resort in Palm Springs, California. Bob Mould's boyfriend is rude to some of the hotel staff and Bob Mould and his boyfriend are asked to leave the clothing optional resort. As they are leaving, Bob Mould gets the last laugh in his head when he compares the hotel person's job to his own. The hotel person has to work at the hotel, but Bob Mould is going to play his music in front of 999,999 people at Coachella. If you're a hotel manager, you're a loser!
Bob Mould is from a small town in New York state. His dad was a boozy convenience store owner who yelled at his customers and everybody in the family. He also bought Bob a whole bunch of stuff, guitars, tour vans, trips to wrestling matches in Montreal, college, etc. Child Bob Mould obtained a bunch of pop singles in the late 1960s and fell in love with music. Eventually he become wild about the Ramones and his father drove him to a record store an hour away to buy a copy of Leave Home. Bob developed a major drinking problem and decided to leave home himself and went to college in Minnesota. In college Bob studied to be an engineer (toot-toot!) but drank a lot and started taking some speed and got really into the Suicide Commandos. Eventually he went into a record store and Grant Hart was working there and then Grant Hart put a closed sign on the door and Bob & Grant went into the basement and smoked Thai Stick.
Grant knew Greg Norton and they all started playing music together with some other guy but then they kicked the other guy out. Hüsker Dü decided that they wanted to play really fast music, so they took a lot of amphetamines and played really fast music. It was around this time that Bob Mould had to get his only job, aside from working in his family's convenience store. He lived at Grant Hart's house and worked some temporary jobs stamping papers or something. Then Hüsker Dü decided to play a bunch of shows and plan a tour. Bob's dad bought them a van and drove it 1,250 miles from New York to St. Paul. Hüsker Dü went on tour and got really good!
Hüsker Dü met a lot of important people while on tour. Hüsker Dü played with Minor Threat in Chicago but since Hüsker Dü liked drugs and Minor Threat didn't, Hüsker Dü put a bunch of aspirin on stage when Minor Threat played. Eventually Hüsker Dü went to Texas and ate at a Mexican restaurant and decided not to pay. Bob Mould then met Rick Rubin who played him LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat" before it was released, but Bob didn't like it. Around this time Bob met a guy named Mike who became his boyfriend. Then Hüsker Dü recorded totally legendary records such as Metal Circus and Zen Arcade. In See A Little Light, Bob Mould makes it clear that Zen Arcade means a lot to everybody but not to him, it was just a bunch of songs on a record. Everybody he was hanging out with was on acid and he felt like he was on acid by being so close to everybody, but really he was drinking boxes of wine every night. While on tour, Greg did all of the driving so Grant and Bob could sleep. Later in the book, Bob Mould says that Greg really didn't do much in Hüsker Dü.
Around this time, Hüsker Dü became really popular with people going to college. SST, the label that had released most of the Hüsker Dü records up to this point, wasn't doing a good enough job printing enough records for people to buy. Bob Mould was mad at this and also mad that Grant Hart talked a lot and sometimes didn't say the right things to the press. Grant Hart also wrote a song about a failed relationship called "2541" but Bob Mould didn't like it because it sounded like a Dream Syndicate song, so he wouldn't let Hüsker Dü play it. Hüsker Dü decided to change record labels because they wanted to buy cars and houses, but then they realized that they hated each other. Bob Mould moved to a farm, Grant Hart moved into heroin, and Greg Norton opened a restaurant.
In See A Little Light, Bob Mould makes it clear that when he's done with a thing, he never looks back. Once Hüsker Dü was over, he closed the door on it forever. Bob Mould holed up on a farm and didn't really talk to anybody and made some acoustic guitar records. Then he got tired of being alone on a farm and decided to move to New York. He then fell in love with a guy named Kevin who worked at Kinko's. They moved to a 4,400 square foot loft in Williamsburg where Bob Mould realized that somebody at his record company signed away his songwriting royalties, so he fired everybody in sight. Then Bob Mould heard Loveless by My Bloody Valentine and decided to start a band called Sugar. It was the early 1990s and alternative rock was really popular. Since Hüsker Dü invented alternative rock and Bob Mould invented Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould decided he should get a bunch of the alternative rock money, so he bought some striped shirts and hired some alternative rock guys.
My favorite part of this book is when Bob Mould refers to Sugar as "one of America's hottest rock bands." Bob Mould was having difficult times with his boyfriend Kevin, who seemed to like him most when his career was going well. The other members of Hüsker Dü contacted Bob Mould with a lawyer to have some contracts looked at, but Bob Mould was really offended. He was in one of America's hottest rock bands! He didn't have time for that! The other members of Hüsker Dü also wanted to sue SST because they weren't receiving any money, but Bob Mould just gave the members $15,000 instead. He explains in the book that it sounds like he was paying them off, but that he really wasn't. Hüsker Dü also released a live record around this time, but Bob Mould couldn't be bothered to listen to it because he was in one of America's hottest rock bands. Soon Bob Mould and his boyfriend moved to Texas and adopted a dog. Then Bob Mould's boyfriend cheated on him but Bob Mould didn't care. Sugar played some shows in Japan and went out to dinner and ate whale sperm. Upon learning that what he ate was whale sperm, Bob Mould writes, "I thought for a second, and then pretended to be grossed out, seeing as the record company folks were heterosexuals." WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? Sugar released two LPs and an EP and then broke up the band but forgot to tell the drummer. WHOOPS!
Eventually, Bob Mould and his boyfriend moved back to NYC. Then they planned to move to Atlanta to start a family, but Bob thought Kinko's Kevin smoked too much pot, so they didn't. Then 9/11 happened and Bob Mould got offended that people would try to blow up NYC so they stayed but then they moved to Washington D.C. Bob Mould decided to stop playing rock music so he told everybody that he was never going to play it again. Bob Mould got really into electronic music and made some records that people mostly didn't like. Kevin cheated on Bob again so Bob tried to incorporate the other person into their relationship. That didn't work so they broke up. The last time Bob saw Kevin was in a coffee shop. Kevin tried to talk to Bob but Bob just pretented that he was Jesus Christ on a cross (?!). Then Bob embraced being gay and single and had sex with a bunch of people and got into bear culture. Eventually he went to church and really liked it and started going every week. At this point I stopped reading See A Little Light because I just got back from Butte, Montana and I really just wanted to eat Taco Bell in bed.
In conclusion, you should buy and read Bob Mould's new book, See A Little Light. This is a really good book review! You're welcome!