Hüsker Dü Biography

Formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, in 1979, this post-punk trio comprised Bob Mould (16 October 1960, Malone, New York, USA; guitar/vocals), Grant Hart (drums/vocals), and Greg Norton (bass). Their melding of pop and punk influences inspired thousands of UK, US and European bands. Indeed, it is hard to think of a single other band having such a profound impact on modern alternative music as this trio, while Mould’s buzz-saw guitar style inspired a whole generation of indie guitarists.

Taking their name, which means ‘Do you remember?’, from a Scandinavian board game, Hüsker Dü started out as an aggressive hardcore thrash band before challenging that genre’s restrictions and expanding to other musical formats. Their primary strength, like so many other truly great bands, was in having two songwriting partners (Mould and Hart) who for the entirety of their career fully complemented each other. Their first single, ‘Statues’, was released on the small Reflex label in 1981. The same year, Land Speed Record, their live debut, arrived on New Alliance Records, followed by an EP, In A Free Land. The trio’s studio debut Everything Falls Apart in 1982 saw them back on Reflex. By the advent of their second EP, Metal Circus (now on SST Records), Hüsker Dü had become a critics’ favourite in the USA - a rapport that was soon to be exported to their UK brethren. Zen Arcade in 1984 brought about a stylistic turning point - a two-record set, it followed a single storyline about a young boy leaving home and finding life even more difficult on his own. A 14-minute closing song, ‘Reoccurring Dreams’, in which it was revealed that the boy’s entire ordeal had been a dream, broke all the rules of punk.

A non-album cover version of the Byrds’ ‘Eight Miles High’ followed, and a 1985 album, New Day Rising, maintained the trio’s reputation as a favourite of critics and college radio stations, with its irresistible quicksilver pop songs. After Flip Your Wig the band signed with Warner Brothers Records (there were several other interested parties), with whom they issued Candy Apple Grey in 1986 and Warehouse: Songs & Stories, another double set, the following year. Hart, who was sinking further into drug and alcohol addiction while his songwriting partner Mould had cleaned up his act after a health scare, was dismissed from the band in December 1987 (though there are many conflicting versions of events leading up to this juncture), which summarily called it a day. Mould and Hart have continued as solo artists, although the former inaugurated the power trio Sugar in the early 90s and the latter recorded two albums with Nova Mob. Norton played with Grey Area before abandoning music to become a gourmet chef.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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