The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world










Mark: Hi, Bob, welcome to Australia. How are we treating you so far?



Bob: So, far, so good, the coffee’s good, the weather’s good, so far, no complaints.



Mark: Why did it take so long to come out and see us?



Bob: I’m not sure, there’s no excuse really! I’m sure you’ll have us back after you see this band tour!



Mark: I hope so, for me, my relationship with your music goes back many, many years. The first real band I discovered on my own, was Husker Du, I picked up a copy of “Candy Apple Grey”.



Bob: Yeah, not a bad band!



Mark: Yeah, they were pretty good! Over the years I’ve never managed to catch you, and so I’m really looking forward to this tour. The new album, “Silver Age”, is absolutely wonderful!  The song, “First Time Joy” the reflective one you’ve got at the end, really echoed that early Husker Du stuff for me. There are some great songs; did it feel good to make that album?
Bob: Yeah, it was funny a lot of things conspired at once to make that record what it was. I had spent three years working on the auto biography, and I wasn’t writing music at all, from the Fall of 2008, until 2011, when I finished the book, and I knew the Sugar 20th anniversary of ‘Copper Blue’ was coming up and I had that motif in mind, you know the guitar pop songs, a little louder. So I got back to writing and all the stuff with the Foo Fighters was happening,  I was hanging out with those guys a lot, in 2011 I went out on tour with them. Playing with Dave and those guys was a lot of fun, which got my energy level back up. I also had a tribute show in 2011 that was a big thing for me.



Mark: That would have been amazing to see, just the artists that were there, playing your songs and looking back at your career. Did all those things coming together, the book, the concert, making the album, make you nostalgic?



Bob: I don’t, I rarely get nostalgic. I only think about the past when I’m doing press! (Laughs) It’s great to have a history like that. All the things that led up to the writing of “Silver Age”, that record was written very quickly, it was written right after the tribute show, and I got right in the studio with Jason and John, and the three of us got in a room and named those songs, and it was great to go back to that style of recording. For many years I’ve been on my own, recording drums later, and I love those records, but with “Silver Age”, all of the energy came back and it was a good thing. I’ve been playing the Husker Du songs forever in solo shows and the “Sugar” stuff since they’ve been written. It’s really funny though on this tour we have got together and looked at the set list, and there are at least twenty songs every night, that don’t get played. We get asked why don’t you play “Wishing Well” and why aren’t you playing something off ‘The Last dog and Pony Show’, and it’s just crazy the amount of songs we have available!



Mark: It’s impossible to please everyone as well. If I were to ask you, I’d be asking for “Too Far Down”!



Bob: I know, we have thought about that song a little! This tour of Australia is the first time I’ve been over with a rock band, that’s the sort of headline on this tour, this is a loud rock band! This tour is pretty short and sweet, we blaze through an hour or so of non-stop loud rock, we are coming over with a purpose on this one.



Mark: It’s pretty much perfect! I just feel privileged that we’re going to be there, but also the people that I talk to, that are going, are young kids! People who didn’t get chance to listen to Husker Du, first time round, didn’t even get ‘Sugar’  but have followed bands that have been influenced by you over the years. I think it will be a fantastic tour.



Bob: I do too. We’ve been noticing, in the States and over in Europe last year, definitely there’s a younger contingent, like you said that missed out, they weren’t around the first time around, and weren’t around for the “Sugar” stuff, so it’s good. Also, like you say it’s great that bands like The Pixies, or Nirvana, whomever, it’s really great that other musicians think highly of the songs. Whatever affect it had on music at the time, I am very grateful for that.



Mark: I think the affect is undeniable. I have actually just finished reading through your book, it was very enlightening, and often when you read a biography, you pretty much know the story, but there were some things in there which threw light upon the early part of your career. Did you enjoy the experience of writing, and what do you think you got out of it at the end?



Bob: It was a really exhausting process. I thought, yeah, I’ll tell a few stories, we’ll have a few laughs, I’ll pat myself on the back and working with Michael Azerrad, he really pushed me for the deeper story. My childhood, my family upbringing, what music did for me as a child, and how that informed my early years in Husker Du. It’s my life, I live it, and I can laugh at it, and so can other people, but the stuff about my relationships, my family, religion, these were all things I never talked about. I think now the circle is complete, I think in trying to explain the story to everyone, it helps me make sense of it. Now I’m very aware of the process and what it all means, it’s made things interesting.



Mark: So, it was a voyage of discovery, some of the things I particularly loved in it, was when you were trying to describe your music, my favourite, was like “throwing a box of glass off the roof of a house!”



Bob: Yeah, one thing that made itself apparent to me when the book was done, and when I was writing it, was how important location is, like where I’m living and what kind of life I’m having, as I put the book together. I mean, we all know this, but when I really had to dig in to what I was experiencing as I was writing ‘Workbook’, the isolation and the solitude, and when I looked at how “bleak” it was, in a way, so now I am very aware of it as I go on and do more work, and I continue to live my life in different places. I’ll be able to appreciate it more, as its happening.



Mark: That’s very interesting that you say that that it’s all to do with place and time. Do you find you are constantly inspired or do certain things inspire you to write?



Bob: It’s sort of a three step process for me; it’s having a quiet life at my home, so that I can get inspired to do the creation of the work. The second step, has always been the actual recording of the documentation, and getting it ready to share with people, and the third step is going out and presenting it to people. Each step is a cycle, that always perpetuates, that always feeds on itself. So, right now I’m on step three, I’m presenting and touring, and it’s very hard for me to get specifically inspired, it’s great to play shows and see the reaction, that’s inspiring, but I can’t really think about what it means until I take it all, I guess, and sit with it, and have that quiet time to reflect on what’s happened, and think about the experience, and that shapes the next cycle. It’s a pretty fascinating thing, even as I’m doing it; it’s an interesting way to live.



Mark: Has that really changed over the years, or is that something that you found that has always worked for you?



Bob: I think like anyone and as time goes on, you have more experience, and you are more in the moment, you see what’s happening, it seems to make more sense, I don’t know. I’m really fortunate, I guess.



Mark: I think it’s just the perspective, over time. One of the passions that you and I, and a lot of other people share, is a love of wrestling, and I love the stuff in the book about that. Is that something you can see yourself going back to in some way?



Bob: I think I may have had my time, in that! I still follow it, I’m still a fan, I think that was my fleeting moment with wrestling, and I think since 1999 the ‘art form’ if you will and the wrestling world has changed completely. I think what they are trying to present to the people today is very different to what I thought I knew about it, if that makes sense.



Mark: I know early on, you talked about the influence of The Ramones, over the years, who would you say your most enduring and sustainable influences have been? Who motivates you?



Bob: Oh, certainly that would be the Beatles, and that’s over any other in the last seventy five years!! (Laughs) They wrote the book on what all of us do in one way or another. Nobody before or after, had the ability to change the world like they did. They redefined what the art form was, so when in doubt, go back to The Beatles.



Mark: I guess that answers my next question! If you could have witnessed the recording of any album, over time, which one would you have liked to be a fly on the wall for and why?



Bob: Well if it was the Beatles I guess, “Sergeant Pepper”, because that was just such a revelation for music. I would have loved to have been kicking around when My Bloody Valentine made ‘Loveless’;   I would have loved to have been  around to see if The Sex Pistols did actually play on “Never mind The Bollocks” (laughs). I think we are lucky in this day and age; a lot of the music video channels are able to get people back together and do those “Behind the music”, see how Steely Dan did ‘Aja’ or see how Fleetwood Mac did “Rumours” and so on, those are really fascinating to watch. Now, Dave Grohl has the Sound City documentary, which I haven’t seen yet, and I have heard nothing but great things about it, in terms of the story telling by the musicians.




Mark: I got to see a preview of that a couple of months ago, it was really good with some really riveting stuff, very recommended. Any surprises for us in the set list? Are you going to mix it up a bit in the different cities?



Bob:  Well it’s a fair amount of ‘Copper Blue’ and a fair amount of ‘Silver Age’, and then you know, a lot of noisy pop songs after that! We change up the end of the show quite a bit, and there are a lot of songs we haven’t even touched on. On the US tour it was like ‘when was the last time I didn’t play “Celebrated Summer”’? We’ve got an abundance of songs right now, I think people will like it, we’re having a lot of fun, with John and Jason, we’ve been playing together for five years now, and this year especially, people have been saying, the consensus is this is the best band I’ve ever had. We are having a great time on stage, and people will see that, I think it’s going to be a really good bunch of shows coming up.




Mark: It does sound like you are having a really good time, must be something to do with the Australian sun maybe! You do sound happy at the moment. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today, Bob, can’t wait to see the show, and enjoy the rest of your time in Australia.




Bob: Thank you, have a great day.




By Mark Diggins 7th March 2013




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