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Husker Du

Hüsker Dü and R.E.M. were the two American post-punk bands of the '80s that changed the direction of rock & roll. R.E.M. became a superstar band; Hüsker Dü never was more than a cult favorite. Nevertheless, their albums between 1981 and 1987 have proven remarkably influential; they provided the sonic blueprint for the roaring punk-pop hybrid that crossed over into the mainstream in the early '90s. Not only did they shape the sound of the music, they shaped the way independent bands made the transition to the major labels; they showed other bands that it was possible to record uncompromising music on a major label without losing any integrity or creative control. From the Replacements to Nirvana, the Pixies to Superchunk, nearly every major and minor band that appeared in the alternative underground in the late '80s and '90s owed a major debt to Hüsker Dü, whether they were aware of it or not.

The band's two songwriters, guitarist Bob Mould and drummer Grant Hart, both had a knack for writing songs that essentially followed conventional pop structures, complete with memorable melodies, but were still punk songs. Hüsker Dü took the Buzzcocks' pioneering punk-pop and made it harder, both musically and lyrically. Throughout their career, Hüsker Dü never lost their edge, never turned down their amplifiers, never compromised their music. While Hart and bassist Greg Norton were an unfailingly strong rhythm section, Mould would prove to be one of the most influential guitarists of the decade. With his slashing rhythms, distorted strumming, and blazing leads, he set the stage for the alternative guitar heroes of the late '80s and the '90s.

Hüsker Dü formed in Minneapolis, MN, in 1979. Guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould was studying at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, and working at a record store, which is where he met drummer/vocalist Grant Hart and bassist Greg Norton. The three musicians had diverse tastes, but all shared a love for hardcore punk rock. Naming themselves Hüsker Dü after a '50s Danish board game (the name means "do you remember"), the trio began rehearsing in Norton's basement.

In the early '80s, Hüsker Dü developed a strong local following; nearly every local band, from the Replacements to Soul Asylum, sounded like the Hüskers. Both Mould and Hart wrote songs and sang lead. In 1981, they released their first single, "Statues," on the local label Reflex, which was quickly followed by their debut album, Land Speed Record, which was released on New Alliance Records. Recorded live, Land Speed Record boasted 17 songs that lasted a full 26 minutes. Later that year, they released an equally fast and hard EP, In a Free Land.

In 1982, they moved backed to Reflex, where they released Everything Falls Apart, their first album recorded in a studio. By this time, Hüsker Dü had begun touring the United States relentlessly, traveling across the country in a van and playing small clubs. Along with the Minutemen, R.E.M., Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, and the Replacements, Hüsker Dü formed the core of a group of independent rock & roll bands that carved out a reputation for touring ceaselessly and getting their records played through college radio stations; they formed the core of the American rock underground in the mid-'80s. Hüsker Dü concerts were a nonstop barrage; the band rarely spoke to the audience and each song segued directly into the next, without interruption. In addition to touring constantly, Hüsker Dü was recording quickly, turning out the Metal Circus EP in 1983.

After Metal Circus, Hüsker Dü developed musically at a rapid pace, with Mould and Hart coming into their own as songwriters on 1984's Zen Arcade, their first album for SST Records and their critical breakthrough. Zen Arcade was a double album -- something that was completely unheard of in the underground -- that showed the band stretching out musically, writing sharper pop songs as well as lengthy abrasive instrumentals. Critics embraced the record, as did independent rock fans. At the end of 1984, they released "Eight Miles High," a cover of the Byrds song; it was only available as a single.

Hüsker Dü continued to record and tour at a blindingly fast speed throughout 1984 and 1985. Mould and Hart were beginning to develop an unspoken rivalry as well as a dependency on alcohol and speed. Nevertheless, the group was at its peak in 1985, turning out two albums. The first, New Day Rising, was released in the spring and showed the band moving closer to concise pop songwriting while accentuating their fierce sonic barrage. Flip Your Wig, released late in 1985, featured their cleanest, most accessible production, without making any concessions to mainstream rock. Both albums received excellent reviews, both in fanzines and some mainstream rock publications.

Following the release of Flip Your Wig, Hüsker Dü became the first of the mid-'80s independent post-punk bands to sign a contract with a major label, as they closed a deal with Warner Bros. Candy Apple Grey, the band's first major-label album, appeared in 1986. During that year, tensions between Mould and Hart escalated. Mould began to clean up and Hart continued to sink further into drug and alcohol addiction. Nevertheless, they managed to write and record another double album, Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Although Warner didn't want the band to release another double record, Warehouse was released in the spring of 1987, to uniformly positive reviews.

Hüsker Dü was preparing to launch a series of concerts to support Warehouse when their manager, David Savoy, committed suicide the night before the start of the tour. Hüsker played the tour anyway -- they ran through the new album in order every night, without interruption -- but Savoy's suicide helped the inner-band turmoil reach a peak. Hart showed no signs of sobering -- he was developing a heroin addiction -- while Mould was clean. Following the Warehouse tour, the band played no more concerts for the rest of the year, which caused speculation that the group was breaking up. Those rumors were confirmed during the winter of 1987-1988, when Hart was fired and the band broke up.

Hart released a solo EP, 2541, on SST later that year, followed by a full-length album called Intolerance a year later. After its release, Hart shook loose his addictions and formed a new band, Nova Mob. Nova Mob released their debut album, The Last Days of Pompeii, in 1991; a self-titled second album appeared in 1994. Norton became a chef in Red Wing. Immediately after the breakup of Hüsker Dü, Mould embarked on a solo career. After releasing two solo albums -- Workbook (1989) and Black Sheets of Rain (1990) -- he formed a trio called Sugar in 1992. Between 1992 and 1994, Sugar released two albums: Copper Blue (1992) and File Under: Easy Listening (1994). Mould broke up the band in 1995 and returned to a solo career the following year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Eight Miles High / Makes No Sense At All

Comments

I let a big husker du in the bathroon the other night.
I was one of the few guys in my high school who even knew who the hell Husker Du was.
stevenrwilli a m s
Zen Arcade: masterpiece
Got them to sign a copy of Metal Circus when they came to Detroit in '87.
C'mon man, husker du is the foundation of post punk indie success. Zen arcade is the "tommy". Of the eighties. Bob mould is the daddy bear who's bed had been slept in. He climbed out from under that and did his own thing with great success. The silver age f**king rocks.
The soundtrack to the apocalypse.
dluellen0
It's a shame that all the Husker Du recordings sound like complete garbage. Did they lay these tracks down using a cassette recorder?
Great stuff, the true beginnings of sounds we all love
This is not alternative it is flat out punk
This is alternative, not classic rock.
REM and Husker Du were actually quite similar in 198X.
Hindsight does not give an accurate depiction of them then.
timothycalaw a y
Right we're all friggn right
Its classic rock now
REM and Husker Du in the same sentence. WTF? Husker Du and THe Pixies/Sonic Youth/Dinosa u r Jr. YES. The review piece on Husker Du is just stupid and incomplete. What about giving birth to Nirvana? At least connect the dots! Jesus.
this band ruined my life
I was into this s**t wen y'all were into no existence get sum
Happy
mikemull11
8===D ~o ~o ~o
husker du were a fvcking musical cruise missile.
why cant I saee comments, blitches?
Got to lug Grant's drum kit onto the stage in the 80's for a Dead Kennedy's/Hu s k e r show in Minneapolis and sat on the stage for the whole show...
Great station, but could use Grant's solo stuff and some Nova Mob.
Shouldn't the Replacements be in that first sentence, too? It's wrong to suggest that the 'Mats somehow followed Husker Du when both bands formed at the same time and released their first recordings the same year.
kbarton73
Yes, I remember.
REM and Husker Du were actually quite similar in 198X. Hindsight does not give an accurate depiction of them then.
Zen Arcade was the White Album of the American punk scene
why, hello there husker du, greatest band ever in the world. how are you today?
sbholl84
One of the greats. "Celebrated Summer" remains one of my fave tunes to this day.
I just saw Grant Hart at the Black Cat in D.C. on Jan.13, 2011. He played to 30-40 people and it was great. His voice has improved immensely; quite a crooner now. (parrellelin g Maurice Chevalier)(S o n g : w h a t ' s a little angel doing so far from heaven)He was very relaxed and talked to the crowd often. Did at least 6 H.Du songs.(girl on heaven hill, pink turns to blue, she floated away, somehow someway, never talking to you, don't want to know
arcsalot2003
I agree with Matt Du too. The (late 70's -80's) "Minneapolis " sound was very diverse. The only thing these bands had in common with each other was the ability to rock.
arcsalot2003
"Hüsker Dü never was more than a cult favorite." Who writes this stuff? I guess getting signed to a major label (albeit towards the end of their run), does not constitute any success. But I do have to agree, they set the standard for a lot of music that followed.
The Mats piss on this article. The only thing in common was the city and time they were from.
Good luck reviewing music, Mr. Clueless.
So says the ginger that listens to Linkin Park
wow this is retarded
This thread makes no sense at all.
Haha. The Replacements called and the said Husker Du ROCKS!
another in the long list of bands/people that should be millionaires but arent ... one of my all time favorites!!!
HIIIII-YAHHH H H !
MUSICAL KARATE CHOP TO THE HAID!
IN CAPS!
Thanks for sharing, Bob Mould!
roy.douglas9 7
i think coon needs to chill bro
The Replacements just called.. they want to kick this reviewer in the nuts.
theotherange
hot. NEW DAY RISING IS THE S**T
rem and husker du,musically , w e r e quite different,ye s

however,thei r ethic was the same,at least before rem became and arena band

and they are from the same time frame

so,same time frame,same ethic,and same audience(und e r g r o u n d ) , t h i n k about it you start to see what the guy is talking about

i dunno,i guess you had to be there
Hey all, i know uh one foo who need to chill the f**k down. Bromide. What, someone stole yo birthday bromide, why you be hatin'. All fiesty n s**t. up in all our faces with yo gritty angst. man, relax. an dis husku du, it be fo bithes, but bicht music coo too, so long yo no b**ch.

this here song, man, far as b**ch music go. usha think it got some feelin. hell ya.
bromide01
I hate punk-pop.
WHOOOO!!! Minnesota Rules!!!
toferlewis
How are Husker and REM even on the same page here. WTF, really, this review and therefore reviewer are crap..."Let' s just throw some band names in there, does not really matter who just some names"...Yea h , can I have a job too...
jason_knotts
My Fav Husker Record is Zen Arcade.
Also. How dare you compare Husker Du to REM. REM is absolute garbage.
I might stand alone in saying that my favorite album was Zen Arcade.
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