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For rocker Bob Mould, telling his own stories led to a ‘hot streak’

Bob Mould says he has never considered a reunion of his beloved band, Husker Du. “I loved that band. But there’s no re-creating that. … Revisiting that wouldn’t do it a great service.”
Bob Mould says he has never considered a reunion of his beloved band, Husker Du. “I loved that band. But there’s no re-creating that. … Revisiting that wouldn’t do it a great service.”

Bob Mould sees no future in nostalgia, yet he admits that his autobiography was a catalyst in a career rejuvenation.

In March, Mould released “Patch the Sky,” his third album since 2012; all three received critical praise and each signified a resurgence from a songwriter who had seemed mired in a state of stasis. This “hot streak,” as he called it in a recent interview with The Star, followed the publishing in 2011 of his memoir, “See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody.”

“It was a turning point,” said Mould, who performs Tuesday at Crossroads KC. “It took a little weight off my shoulders and cleared up some historical stuff and showed people a little more private side of me about my childhood and family, things outside of me and how all of that shaped my work.”

The irony: Mould isn’t one to indulge in nostalgia, which is one reason he has never considered a reunion of Hüsker Dü, the hardcore punk/rock trio he founded that reigned in the indie/underground world in the early to mid-1980s.

“That was a great experience, a great first band to have,” he said. “I loved that band. But there’s no re-creating that. No way. When the band ended I just moved on to the next part of my life. Revisiting that wouldn’t do it a great service.”

Yet “See a Little Light” required some looking back, some introspection, which led to some much-needed clarity that proved to be cathartic.

“It was the first time I had stepped away from myself to see myself more clearly,” he said. “To me it was how all the threads of my life intertwined, especially the bigger moments, whether it was my sexuality or the dynamics in the music part of it and people I was working with or the politics of the country.

“When flashpoints happen in our lives, when things explode, you’re pretty much just dealing with the explosion. And you never really know what causes high points and low points as they’re happening. It was the first time I ever took inventory.”

Mould also credited his band mates, bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster, and his friendship with Dave Grohl for stoking his musical hot streak.

“We’ve been friends for a long time and together for almost eight years,” he said. “They understand what I’m trying to do, and they bring so much energy to it.

“Also a lot of the work with Foo Fighters and hanging out with Dave and doing stuff with them. He was a big champion of the work and that was nice. All that stuff combined is the fuel that’s driving this.”

“This” is the creative streak that inspired three strong albums, including “Sky.” Like its predecessors, it’s filled with steel-toed hooks and joyous melodies — a louder, harder version of his post-Hüsker Dü band, Sugar — but lyrics that come from dark places. From “Voices in My Head”: “It gets cold and it gets lonely / Gets you down inside / When it’s evening and I wander off / It’s a long, dark ride.”

“The last five years have been great professionally,” he said. “Personally, there has been a lot of loss in my life. I’m the kind of guy who writes what I know. I’m not real good at writing around things. I write and write and discover: There’s a lot of loss in here. That’s what I’m going through.

“So what can I do to offset that? Wrap it in a really bright melody and make it hooky. That’s a technique I’ve used a lot. I did it unconsciously for years, then realized I was doing it. Now it’s one of the cornerstones of how I work. This album, because the stories felt pretty heavy, I wanted to do anything I could to make it catchy because the contrast will be good. I think it works.”

In “See a Little Light,” Mould describes his music in a variety of ways: “the sound of someone starting up a chain saw in preparation for clearing a parcel of overgrown land” and “the musical equivalent of the sound of throwing a box of glass off the roof of a house.”

The music flows within him, he said. Lyrics, however, are a different matter, even after mining and plumbing his memories for his memoir.

“I tend to write more music than words these days,” he said. “I don’t know why. The last couple years I wouldn’t say there’s a scarcity of words, but I’d say I’m more careful with words.

“For this record I probably had 50 music ideas but I didn’t want to have 50 songs worth of thought when I knew only 12 of the thoughts would be heard. So I was a little more careful with the words. Sometimes the words come from anywhere: back of the napkin to slaving over a typewriter and anywhere in-between. Music just comes. I can’t stop that.”

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

TUESDAY

Bob Mould performs Tuesday night at Crossroads KC, 417 E. 18th St. The Fury Things open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $66.50 at CrossroadsKC.com.

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